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Caution! More than 200,000 attorneys are eligible to practice law in California. Many attorneys share the same names. All discipline reports are taken from State Bar Court documents and should be read carefully for names, ages, addresses and bar numbers. Read the Discipline Key for an explanation of the different levels of disciplinary action. Use Attorney Search to check an attorney's official bar membership record.

DISBARMENTS

SUSPENSION/PROBATION

DISBARMENTS

PHILIP HARVEY BUDA [#83369], 56, of Redwood City was disbarred Jan. 11, 2007, and was ordered to comply with former rule 955 of the California Rules of Court.

In a default matter, the State Bar Court found that Buda failed to comply with rule 955, as required by a 2005 disciplinary order. He did not file with the Supreme Court an affidavit stating that he notified his clients, opposing counsel and other pertinent parties of his suspension from practice. Failure to comply with rule 955 is grounds for disbarment.

The underlying matter involved Buda's failure to perform legal services competently, communicate with a client, maintain a current address with the bar or cooperate with its investigation. He also improperly withdrew from representation, charged an illegal fee and failed to support California law by engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, an act of moral turpitude.

Buda also was privately reproved more than 20 years ago.


ROBERT STANLEY SHATZEN [#54542], 65, of Portland, Ore. was disbarred Feb. 17, 2007, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Shatzen did not comply with rule 955, as required by a 2005 disciplinary order. He did not file the required affidavit with the Supreme Court, stating that he notified his clients, opposing counsel and other interested parties of his suspension.

Shatzen was disciplined in Oregon in 2004 for violating four professional responsibility rules. He continued to list himself as a certified public accountant for about six years after his CPA certificate and permit lapsed in 1983 and he told clients that he was a CPA. Two clients complained that he failed to prepare their tax returns, and the Board of Accountancy revoked his license and assessed $52,000 in civil penalties against him.

The California bar court found that his actions amounted to moral turpitude and false advertising. He also failed to cooperate with the bar's investigation.


ROBERT EDWARD NOEL [#68477], 66, of Fairfield was disbarred Feb. 17, 2007, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Noel failed to comply with rule 955, as required by a 2002 interim suspension. He did not file with the Supreme Court an affidavit stating that he notified his clients, opposing counsel and other interested parties of his suspension.

Noel was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and owning a mischievous animal causing death in a notorious dog mauling case in San Francisco. Noel and his wife, Marjorie Knoller, kept two huge Presa Canarios for a prison inmate who was their client and adopted son. The dogs attacked and killed a neighbor of the couple.


ROBERT D. PRYCE [#114382], 56, of Los Angeles was summarily disbarred Feb. 17, 2007, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

Pryce pleaded guilty to four federal charges in 2003, including mail fraud, a crime that contains as an element the specific intent to defraud. Felonies that involve moral turpitude are grounds for summary disbarment.

He also was convicted of bribery, conspiracy to engage in money laundering and conspiracy to interfere with commerce by extortion.


JOHN R. LOTHROP [#158111], 49, of San Leandro was disbarred Feb. 17, 2007, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Lothrop committed misconduct in handling a business dispute. He filed a complaint for partnership dissolution on his clients' behalf but did not serve the defendant.

When Lothrop did not respond to numerous attempts by the other party to contact him, the other party sued Lothrop's clients for breach of contract and partnership dissolution. Lothrop did not file an answer, defaults were entered against his clients and he failed to set aside the defaults. Opposing counsel offered to set aside the defaults if Lothrop would submit both cases to binding arbitration, but he never responded. 

He later told the court the original case also was set for binding arbitration when he knew or should have known that was not the case. He also agreed to binding arbitration in the second case without his clients' authorization and agreed to pay the other attorneys more than $2,000 in fees and costs. He never followed through on either agreement.

His clients hired a new lawyer after they were sanctioned and Lothrop failed to appear at a case management conference. They learned they had 10 days to set aside the defaults and tried to contact Lothrop at least 13 times without success. The new attorney managed to have the defaults set aside.

The bar court found that Lothrop failed to perform legal services competently or keep his clients informed of significant developments in their case, and he committed an act of moral turpitude by falsely telling the court the two cases were set for binding arbitration. He also did not keep his address current with the bar.

Lothrop was disciplined twice previously: in 1998 for nine counts of misconduct and in 2001 for three counts – appearing at a deposition while suspended, and failing to respond to a bar investigator's inquiries or comply with probation conditions.

Bar court Judge Joann Remke said disbarment was appropriate "given the seriousness of the misconduct in this matter, the extensive aggravating circumstances, the complete lack of mitigating circumstances and the similarity of the misconduct in this matter to that in (Lothrop's) prior disciplinary proceedings."


OLIVER LEE SAUNDERS [#97300], 68, of Fresno was disbarred Feb. 17, 2007, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

Saunders filed a rule 955 compliance declaration with the State Bar probation office almost three months late. The bar court rejected his "unreasonable excuse" that he did not file the declaration because he had no clients and therefore thought he was relieved of the obligation.

As part of a 2005 stipulation, Saunders agreed to comply with rule 955, which requires attorneys to notify clients, opposing counsel and other interested parties of their suspension, to submit an affidavit to that effect to the Supreme Court and to provide a compliance declaration to the bar.

He acknowledged receiving the disciplinary order in the mail but said he read only the first sentence because he has a character flaw – he does not read "real bad news." He did not open a subsequent letter from the bar until he received a phone call from a probation deputy. He filed a declaration on time but it was defective and was rejected.

Saunders said he was not aware there was a specific declaration form, and at trial stated he still had not read rule 955 because the research tool on his computer was turned off.

He has been disciplined three times previously, in 1991, 1992 and 2005.

In recommending Saunders' disbarment, bar court Judge Joann Remke noted that he did not read the underlying stipulation before signing it, did not read the Supreme Court order and did not read rule 955. His "conduct and his indifference to his responsibility as an officer of the court demonstrate that he does not fully appreciate the seriousness of his conduct and cast serious doubt on his fitness to practice," Remke wrote.


SUSPENSION/PROBATION

JAMES MICHAEL SIMMONS [#159726], 51, of Inglewood Probation was revoked, the previous stay of suspension was lifted and he was actually suspended for one year. Credit will be given for a period of involuntary inactive enrollment that began Sept. 15, 2006. The order took effect Dec. 28, 2006.

Simmons did not comply with probation conditions of a 2004 disciplinary order – he did not submit three quarterly reports, submitted three others late and did not submit proof that he attended ethics school.

In the underlying matter, he was disciplined for practicing law while suspended for non-payment of bar dues and non-compliance with MCLE requirements.


MARILLA LANE ROSS [#138920], 48, of Santa Barbara was suspended for two years, stayed, actually suspended for 30 days and until she proves her rehabilitation and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Dec. 28, 2006.

On appeal by the State Bar, the State Bar Court review department recommended that Ross' discipline be increased from the public reproval recommended by a hearing judge to a suspension. Ross has been convicted twice of resisting arrest, which "leads us to conclude that (she) has an unresolved problem" with law enforcement officers, Judge Ronald Stovitz wrote.

Ross went to the Laguna Beach Police Department in 2004 to file a harassment complaint; she believed someone she hired was making harassing phone calls to her and supposedly had tape recordings of the calls. The watch commander told her he could take a report but she needed to provide the tapes. Ross became increasingly agitated, began cursing and screaming obscenities and finally left under threat of arrest.

She eventually was arrested after she refused to put on her seatbelt in her car, stopped her car in the middle of the street and refused to move and later stopped the car in a fire station driveway. Police confiscated a Larazepam tablet when they arrested her.

She pleaded no contest to one count of resisting and obstructing an officer. A charge of possession for sale of a designated substance was dropped. The court waived a $100 fine after finding Ross is indigent.

She also was found guilty of resisting arrest in 1999 after she refused to leave another lawyer's office and resisted police officers who were called to escort her from the premises.

Ross' default was entered in the bar proceedings when she did not participate. The review department recommended that she seek professional treatment.


JOHN WILLIAM JOHANSON [#82001], 54, of Henderson, Nev. was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 60-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Dec. 28, 2006.

Johanson stipulated to misconduct in two matters.

He was terminated by his client in a workers' compensation case, but did not sign a substitution of attorney form or provide the file to his client's new lawyer. The new lawyer obtained a court order to substitute in and served Johanson with a deposition subpoena in order to obtain the file. When Johanson did not produce the file despite a court order, his former client complained to the State Bar. A year passed before Johanson returned the file.

He stipulated that he failed to promptly release a client file and he violated a court order.

In another matter, Johanson received a check for almost $175,000 payable to him and his client. He deposited the check in a non-client trust account. Although he opened the account specifically to process the funds, he never designated it as a client trust account.

Johanson also was disciplined in 1998 for failure to perform, engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in another jurisdiction, misappropriation of client funds, trust account improprieties and misrepresentations to a client.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar's investigation and suffered the deaths of his father and two close friends.


MAURICIO ERNESTO HERNANDEZ [#123368], 50, of Pomona was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 30-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Dec. 28, 2006.

Hernandez stipulated to misconduct in handling a personal injury claim he filed in 2003. He agreed to a $5,000 settlement, but did not inform his client he received a check for that amount. He did not respond to the client's many inquiries about the matter, so she complained to the State Bar. As a result, he finally sent the client her share of the settlement.

Soon after he filed the claim, he was placed on not eligible status by the bar for failing to comply with MCLE requirements. Nonetheless, he remained attorney of record in the personal injury case.

He stipulated that he failed to notify his client of his receipt of settlement funds, promptly disburse the funds or respond to status inquiries, and he practiced law while not eligible.

In mitigation, Hernandez has no other discipline record in 20 years of practice and his family was under severe stress due to his son's medical condition.


DAVID JEFFREY EARLE [#98968], 51, of Glendale was suspended for one year, stayed, actually suspended for six months and until the State Bar Court grants a motion to terminate the suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Jan. 11, 2007.

In a default matter, the State Bar Court found that Earle engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, committed acts of dishonesty and failed to cooperate with the bar's investigation or maintain an official address with the bar.

Earle asked that the bar change his official address in 2003, but his address in bar records remains incomplete. He did not respond to efforts to obtain a complete and accurate address.

When the bar was notified by a bank that Earle had written a check against insufficient funds in his client trust account, he did not respond to phone messages and letters sent to him were returned as undeliverable.

Earle was suspended for non-payment of bar dues and non-compliance with MCLE requirements in 2004 and has been suspended ever since. He appeared as attorney of record for a client in Los Angeles Superior Court numerous times while suspended.

In mitigation, Earle practiced for 23 years without a discipline record.


JASON S. GUETZKOW [#191280], 36, of Washington, D.C. was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 90-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Jan. 11, 2007.

Guetzkow stipulated to 15 acts of misconduct in three matters.

He prepared a living trust for a couple who found several errors in the draft he provided. He returned only one of many phone calls and scheduled a meeting his clients were unable to attend. They fired him and sought a refund of their $700 advance fee. They heard nothing for months and eventually learned Guetzkow had moved his office without notifying them.

After they complained to the bar, he refunded the advance fee.

In the second matter, a client hired Guetzkow to provide legal assistance with his mother's estate and to handle issues related to his sister's death and his appointment as guardian of his niece. Guetzkow completed most of the work related to the mother's estate and filed pleadings and appeared at a hearing in the sister's estate and guardianship matters. He then stopped all work for the client who was unable to contact Guetzkow by either phone or letter.

When the client terminated Guetzkow and asked that all files be returned, he received only a few documents. Guetzkow also did not respond to a bar investigator's inquiries.

Guetzkow performed some work in a probate case but did not complete the work or reply to his client's phone messages, letters or e-mails. When the client hired a new lawyer, Guetzkow did not sign the substitution of attorney form or return her file.

Guetzkow stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently, respond to client inquiries, return client files, refund an unearned fee, take steps to avoid prejudice to his clients or cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In mitigation, he suffered from depression, which is now treated with medication.


ALAN WESLEY CURTIS [#56827], 63, of Costa Mesa was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a six-month actual suspension and was ordered to comply with rule 955. The order took effect Jan. 11, 2007.

Curtis stipulated that for several months in 2005, he issued a check against insufficient funds in his client trust account, commingled personal and business funds in the account and used the account as a personal or business account. Some of his actions involved moral turpitude.

He has been disciplined three times previously and was convicted in 2003 of federal conspiracy to avoid currency reporting.

In mitigation, Curtis had serious health problems, including leukemia and kidney failure, resulting in memory loss and confusion that affected his law practice.


LUCIEN EMMANUEL DIERICKX [#181960], 64, of Temecula was revoked and he was actually suspended for 90 days and was ordered to comply with rule 955. The order took effect Jan. 11, 2007.

Dierickx stipulated that he failed to comply with probation conditions attached to a 2004 stipulation: he did not file three quarterly probation reports on time or complete ethics school on time.

He was disciplined after he took collection money from a church he was hired to incorporate and installed himself as its owner and chief executive officer. In that matter, he stipulated that he committed acts of moral turpitude by filing a false statement, taking the church's funds and closing its bank account without its consent, misrepresenting when the account was closed and by failing to return the church's funds.

In mitigation, he contends that his longtime diabetes causes confusion and short-term memory loss and he thought he filed one of his probation reports when he had not.


MICHAEL WARREN COOPET [#111063], 50, of Long Beach was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a nine-month actual suspension and he was ordered to comply with rule 955. The order took effect Jan. 11, 2007.

Coopet stipulated to two acts of misconduct, both involving his failure to comply with probation conditions attached to a 2005 discipline order. He did not file the required affidavit with the Supreme Court and filed two quarterly probation reports late.

In the underlying discipline, Coopet stipulated to five counts of misconduct as a result of practicing law while on inactive status, including failing to perform legal services competently, communicate with a client, render an accounting or refund unearned fees and he practiced law while not an active member of the bar.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar's investigation.


BROOKE POWELL HALSEY JR. [#142330], 44, of Tiburon was suspended for four years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with an actual three-year suspension and until he proves his rehabilitation and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Jan. 12, 2007.

While prosecuting a prominent physician in Sonoma for murder, Halsey, who was a deputy district attorney, dismissed the charges after evidence came to light that a key witness had been extensively coached. The State Bar Court found that he committed six acts of misconduct.

He violated California law by withholding, prior to trial, impeaching evidence and evidence favorable to the defense, committing acts of moral turpitude, and he improperly suppressed evidence, made multiple misrepresentations to the court and sought to mislead a judge.

In another matter, he intervened in the case of a casual acquaintance who was charged with violating the Fish and Game Code while hunting for wild pigs. Although it was not his case, Halsey evaluated the matter on his own and had it dismissed without informing anyone in his office. The court found that he had a conflict in the case because of a prior relationship with the defendant.

In mitigation, Halsey presented 17 character witnesses who testified to his integrity. He has no prior discipline record and he has performed extensive community service.


JAMES B. CANALEZ [#177649], 57, of Fresno was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Jan. 12, 2007.

Canalez stipulated to eight counts of misconduct in two matters.

In both cases, he failed to complete legal services for clients who retained him to help obtain permanent residency status. One paid an advance fee of $1,500 and the other paid $1,200, both without a written fee agreement. Both filed small claims actions for the return of their fees, which Canalez eventually refunded.

He stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently, keep his clients informed of developments in their case, refund unearned fees or take steps to avoid prejudice to the clients when his employment ended.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar's investigation.


JAMES FRANCIS-JU GOODFELLOW [#133082], 46, of San Francisco was suspended for two years, stayed, actually suspended for one year and until the State Bar Court grants a motion to terminate the suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Jan. 19, 2007.

In a default proceeding, the bar court found that Goodfellow's conviction for possession of a controlled substance warranted discipline. He was stopped for shoplifting food from a Whole Foods market in San Francisco, and police seized eight small bags of methamphetamine.

When Goodfellow failed to appear for a progress report, his probation was revoked and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. He later appeared and his probation was reinstated.

In mitigation, Goodfellow practiced law for 16 years without a discipline record.


DEBORAH ANN DUGGAN [#113112], 60, of Oakland Probation was revoked, the previous stay of suspension was lifted and she was actually suspended for three years and until she proves her rehabilitation. The order took effect Feb. 4, 2007.

Duggan violated the terms of a 2005 probation: she filed four probation reports late, never filed a fifth report, did not complete ethics or trust accounting school or make restitution payments, and did not submit a law office plan or proof that she obtained mental health treatment.

The underlying discipline was imposed after Duggan stipulated that she engaged in extensive misconduct in 11 matters, including repeatedly failing to perform legal services competently or communicate with clients, and she committed numerous trust account violations, including acts of moral turpitude, by issuing 32 checks against insufficient funds.


JAMES M. COOSE [#154099], 52, of New Caney, Tex. was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual six-month suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Feb. 17, 2007.

Coose stipulated to misconduct in two matters.

He shared an office with a non-lawyer who owned Budget Legal Centers (BLC). A couple paid BLC $500 to prepare and file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, and they agreed to make future payments of $900 to BLC in order to have Coose handle a lien matter. Coose never filed either petition or refunded the clients' fees. BLC gave him $500 for his work on the bankruptcy petition.

Coose stipulated that he accepted compensation from someone other than the client without the client's written consent, shared fees with a non-lawyer and failed to refund unearned fees.

He was on probation for a 2005 discipline, but filed two quarterly reports late, failed to file one report and did not take the MPRE or complete ethics school. He stipulated that he violated the terms of his probation.

The 2005 discipline was imposed for charging an unconscionable fee.


CLAYTON CORWIN PATRICK [#45735], 62, of Clatskanie, Ore. was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation with a 30-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Feb. 17, 2007.

Patrick is a member of the Oregon bar and an inactive member of the California and Washington bars.

He and a close friend established what is now known as the Clearspring Trust with a business partner. One of the trust's income-producing ventures was to make loans to individuals. Prior to filing for bankruptcy, Patrick began borrowing money from the same friend; the loans were eventually transferred to the trust.

When he sought to discharge the funds borrowed from the trust, his friend, on behalf of the trust, filed an adversary action in the bankruptcy.

Patrick was disciplined by the Oregon bar.

Prior to filing for bankruptcy, Patrick referred another client to his friend for a loan and represented the client in negotiating with the trust. At the same time, he performed legal services for his friend, who depended on Patrick to ensure that the trust's interests were protected.

Patrick had also suggested to his friend that the trust make a loan to other friends, and he performed legal services for both parties without receiving their informed written consent. He negotiated and facilitated the loan and signed a promissory note as a guarantor for the loan. He did not advise his clients to seek independent legal advice or make certain that the terms of the transaction were fair.

In both matters, he stipulated that he represented adverse interests without their consent.

In mitigation, he has no prior record of discipline, demonstrated remorse and cooperated with the bar's investigation.


WAYNE WINROW [#153632], 55, of Emeryville was suspended for two years, stayed, actually suspended for two years and until he proves his rehabilitation, and he was ordered to comply with rule 955. The order took effect Feb. 17, 2007.

Winrow was convicted in 2004 of misdemeanor unauthorized practice of law.

Disciplined in 2001 (for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law), he received a delay of his suspension because of a wrongful death case that was about to go to trial. When he sought the delay, he did not mention another pending criminal case in which he had already appeared at the preliminary hearing. Winrow continued to handle the criminal case without advising the court or opposing counsel of his suspension.

He was convicted in a court trial of unlicensed practice of law, sentenced to three years of probation and fined $1,000. The bar court concluded that his conviction involved moral turpitude.

Winrow was disciplined again in 2006 for misconduct in three matters, including failing to perform legal services competently or respond to his client's phone calls.


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