DAVID MARTIN AGNEW [#49991], 53, of Westlake
Village was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on probation for two years
with an actual 60-day suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The
order took effect Sept. 17, 1999.
Agnew was placed on interim suspension in 1994, following a
conviction for conspiracy to transport, distribute or import marijuana. At the time, he
was ordered to comply with rule 955 of the California Rules of Court by notifying all
clients, opposing counsel and other pertinent parties of his suspension and submitting an
affidavit to the Supreme Court stating that he had made the notifications.
He filed the affidavit two months late, immediately following a
status conference with a bar court judge. The new discipline is based on a finding that he
wilfully violated rule 955.
Agnew argued that he thought the public would not be harmed if he
failed to submit an affidavit. He is physically disabled by a severe spinal injury,
terminated his law practice in 1989, has been an inactive member of the bar since 1990,
and has no clients or cases.
He also believed he had to have an affidavit notarized, requiring him
to crawl to a notary public and exacerbate his medical condition.
In mitigation, Agnew has no record of discipline in 22 years of
practice. His chronic spinal problems also were seen as mitigating.
Because the hearing judge did not order Agnew to submit quarterly
probation reports, the bar appealed to the review department, but it declined to add
further probationary requirements.
RICHARD A. CANATELLA [#53264], 61, of San Francisco
was suspended for 18 months, stayed, placed on 18 months of probation with a 30-day actual
suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Sept.
Canatella stipulated to filing numerous frivolous actions in courts
in San Mateo, San Francisco, and Santa Clara county courts, as well as in the California
Court of Appeal and federal district and appeals courts.
Six were civil matters he filed relating to a criminal case in which
he represented a babysitter who was convicted of second degree murder and felony child
abuse. The civil cases, filed on behalf of the babysitter and her parents, who owned the
house where she lived, included legal malpractice, insurance bad faith, and allegations
that various defendants conspired to deprive his clients of their constitutional rights.
Canatellas involvement in nine other matters also was the
subject of discipline.
Sanctions were ordered against him or his clients 37 times. Courts
repeatedly found him responsible for frivolous, meritless and vexatious actions. Sanctions
totalled more than $18,000 in one matter, and the opposing parties were granted all fees
and costs in another.
In one case, a federal judge said, This complaint is a paradigm
for frivolous. Wrote another federal jurist: Plaintiffs
repeated attempt to challenge the sanctions and judgments . . . in the face of clear
authority that his claim is frivolous evidences his bad faith and wrongful purpose.
In mitigation, Canatella has no record of discipline since beginning
to practice law in 1972 and he demonstrated his good character by presenting testimonials
from eight people, including four attorneys and three judges. He also presented a lengthy
list of his professional accomplishments.
WILLIAM EDGAR DAVIS III [#101641], 45, of Los Angeles
was suspended for four years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual
three-year suspension, and was ordered to make restitution, prove his rehabilitation, take
the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Sept. 17, 1999.
In a personal injury case, Davis deposited two insurance checks into
his client trust account. However, at one point, the balance fell below the required
amount, and Davis thus failed to maintain client funds in trust.
He also failed to promptly pay out client funds by delaying payment
of a medical lien for 19 months, and he misappropriated client funds, committing an act of
Davis has a prior record of discipline. He was suspended for
abandoning clients and disobeying court orders to appear at hearings for those clients.
He did not cooperate with the bars investigation of the newer
JEFFREY D. EASLEY [#149036], 43, of Denver was
suspended for six months, stayed, placed on one year of probation, and was ordered to take
the MPRE within a year. The order took effect Sept. 17, 1999.
Easley was disciplined by the Colorado state bar as a result of
activities during his representation of 60 women in a sexual harassment case.
He employed a private investigator and a female counselor to assist
him in handling the litigation. Although he drafted a memo offering to pay the two 7.5
percent of his fee, the employees ended up billing on an hourly rate basis.
During the course of the litigation, Easley had sex with one of his
Easley entered into a stipulation with the Colorado bar that his
conduct violated three rules of professional conduct. The Colorado Supreme Court
subsequently ruled in an unrelated case that a sexual relationship between a lawyer and
client during the course of the professional relationship is inherently and
insidiously harmful. Easley was suspended for 60 days in Colorado.
Sex with a client violates the California Business and Professions
Code. An attorney can be disciplined in California for professional misconduct in another
jurisdiction if that same conduct would have violated California law had it occurred here.
In mitigation, Easley has no prior record of discipline, cooperated
with the bars investigation, and voluntarily stipulated to misconduct.
BARBARA JEAN KUEHN [#152283], 47, of Burlingame was
suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a one-year
actual suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE. Credit toward the actual suspension
will be given for an interim suspension which began Dec. 5, 1998. The order took effect
Sept. 17, 1999.
Kuehn represented a woman in a dissolution in which the family home
was sold, profits were to be split 50-50 after payment of debts, and Kuehn was entrusted
with the proceeds of the sale.
She distributed more than $6,000 of the entrusted funds to herself
without obtaining the courts authorization. As a result, she was charged with, and
pleaded no contest to, embezzlement. She agreed to cease practice for one year, home
detention for six months, a fine of $3,750, three years of probation and 200 hours of
Kuehn was placed on interim suspension last December.
In mitigation, she and her bookkeeper assert that the client gave
them permission to take the legal fees from her share of the funds. Slightly more than
one-half was taken through oversight and a failure to carefully supervise. Kuehn believed
at all times that she was acting with her clients authority to pay her fees.
The bar received more than 75 letters attesting to Kuehns good
character. She was a recipient of a bar pro bono award, and has been an active leader in
local and state bar associations.
There were claims, supported by witnesses, that a criminal
prosecution for a minor embezzlement that would otherwise have been addressed in civil
court, was highly unusual.