RALPH S. BRANSCOM [#53209], 56, of San Diego
was suspended for six months, stayed, placed on three years of probation and was ordered
to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect June 7, 2000.
Branscom stipulated to four counts of misconduct in two cases.
In the first, he failed to perform legal services competently or
respond to his clients inquiries in a patent application. Despite advance payment,
he did no work on the application, failed to attend a meeting about his lack of progress,
and never filed the application. He did not return his clients numerous phone calls.
Branscom stipulated to similar misconduct in another patent
application he was hired to prepare and file in January 1995. He did not respond to four
letters and 19 phone calls, and in May 1996, a member of his staff told the client the
firm was dissolving and Branscoms whereabouts were unknown. Branscom spoke to the
client at some point that month and said he would not meet with him.
The client submitted a petition for an extension of time to the
Patent Trademark Office. In November 1996, Branscom filed the patent application and
followed it to the point at which a fee was due. He did not pay the fee.
In mitigation, Branscom is a former president of the San Diego Patent
Law Association and twice chaired the local bar associations client relations
committee. He has no record of discipline.
DENNIS R. CONSTANT [#85119], 47, of Upland was
suspended for 30 days, stayed, placed on one year of probation and was ordered to take the
MPRE within one year. The order took effect June 7, 2000.
Constant did not timely comply with the terms of a 1997 private
reproval: he filed quarterly probation reports, made restitution and attended ethics
school after the required deadlines.
In mitigation, he did not practice law, was earning a minimal salary,
and could not make restitution because of financial hardship.
The original discipline was the result of Constants failure to
perform legal services competently, refund unearned fees, keep clients informed about
developments in their case and cooperate with the bars investigation.
JOHN DAVID RANDOLPH [#87613], 57, of San Jose was
suspended for one year, stayed, and was placed on one year of probation with an actual
30-day suspension. The order took effect June 7, 2000.
Randolph stipulated that he misused or mismanaged his client trust
account and commingled personal and client funds. He deposited and maintained personal
funds in the account, wrote checks to himself not related to the payment of attorney fees,
and wrote checks against insufficient funds in the account.
He kept no client funds in the account since he was suspended from
practice from February 1997 to February 1998.
In mitigation, no clients were harmed, Randolph suffered family and
financial problems and he took steps in recognition of his wrongdoing.
The original discipline was imposed for splitting fees with a
nonlawyer, mishandling client funds and failing to cooperate with the bars
ARTHUR F. SILBER [#130768], 52, of Los Angeles was
suspended for four years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual
one-year suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation, take the MPRE and comply
with rule 955. The order took effect June 7, 2000.
Silber stipulated that he failed to comply with the probation
conditions attached to two disciplinary orders. He did not attend ethics school, submit
five quarterly probation reports, submit evidence that he obtained mental health treatment
or furnish proof that he had not practiced law while suspended. He committed a total of 15
Silber had been disciplined for failure to perform legal services
competently, keep clients informed about developments in their cases, return client
property and cooperate with a bar investigation, and he improperly withdrew from
In mitigation, Silber states that his noncompliance was due in
significant part to his previously undiagnosed alcoholism. He now is sober and attends
regular AA meetings.
MICHAEL B. SPIZER [#35211], 63, of Los Angeles was
suspended for one year, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a 90-day actual
suspension and was ordered to comply with rule 955. The order took effect June 7, 2000.
Spizer was suspended from practice from January to March 1998.
Because he was living in a sober living situation, he did not receive notice
of the suspension immediately.
He practiced law while suspended, making court appearances in a case
he had accepted before his suspension. He said he had not received notice of his
suspension at the time. He also had accepted a $2,500 fee to represent his client.
Following one court appearance, Spizer entered an inpatient
residential drug treatment program for a 28-day stay. Two days later, he was suspended for
failing to pass the professional responsibility exam, a probation condition which had been
attached to an earlier discipline.
He missed several court appearances because he was living in the
inpatient facility. He later explained to the court his reason for missing the hearings.
Spizer did not refund the unearned fee until after a complaint was made to the State Bar.
Another client hired Spizer to represent him in a criminal matter,
but when the client learned Spizer was suspended, he declined the representation. Spizer
said he could not refund the clients advance fee because he did not have the money.
He returned the money after learning that the client filed a claim with the Client
Spizer has a record of three other disciplines. In 1990, he received
a stayed suspension and probation for failure to perform, communicate with clients or
promptly return files. Following a default hearing in 1997, he was again disciplined for
two client abandonments. A year later, he stipulated to misconduct that included accepting
a fee while suspended and disclosing a confidence while representing a client with whom he
was romantically involved.
In mitigation, Spizer, who became a drug addict after the breakup of
his marriage of 25 years, lives in a residential treatment facility whose administrators
report he is committed to sobriety. He cooperated with the bars investigation and he
JOSEPH TRENK [#101459], 45, of Van Nuys was
suspended for two years, stayed, and was placed on two years of probation with a 30-day
actual suspension and until he attends ethics school and completes six MCLE hours in law
practice management and six hours in legal ethics. If the actual suspension exceeds 90
days, he must comply with rule 955, and if it exceeds two years, he must prove his
rehabilitation. The order took effect June 7, 2000.
Trenk failed to comply with probation conditions attached to a 1997
public reproval he submitted four quarterly probation reports late and he did not
attend ethics school or complete six hours each of MCLE courses in ethics and law office
Trenk has two prior records of discipline. The public reproval was
based on a failure to perform, return the clients file or cooperate with the
bars investigation. In a 1998 case, he mishandled four client matters by failing to
perform or communicate with clients and in one instance, he failed to obey a court order.
The court gave some mitigating weight to Trenks family
circumstances, which include his wifes multiple sclerosis and his fathers two
bypass surgeries, and to the fact that he complied with probation conditions either in
part or late. The bar court also conceded that part of the discipline order may have been
JOHN COLLIER PYLE [#98212], 53, of Lodi was
suspended for four years, stayed, placed on four years of probation with an actual 30-month
suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation, take the MPRE, attend ethics
school and comply with rule 955. The order took effect June 9, 2000.
In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Pyle
committed multiple acts of wrongdoing, including trust account violations, writing bad
checks, misappropriation, misrepresentation and practicing law while suspended. His
actions involved moral turpitude and dishonesty.
Pyle was publicly reproved in 1996, and although he made the required
restitution, he did not take the professional responsibility exam or attend ethics school.
In another count, the court found that he improperly used his client
trust account as a personal account by both writing personal checks and commingling
personal and client funds. He also wrote checks against insufficient funds and did not
cooperate with the bars investigation.
Pyle substituted into a civil action, but according to the court, he
did not defend the action, refund unearned fees, keep his client informed of any
developments, and entered into a stipulated judgment without his clients knowledge
or consent. A default judgment in the case had been set aside, and after Pyle filed an
answer to the complaint, he did not conduct any discovery or take any action to defend the
case. Sanctions were issued against his client, but Pyle did not notify him. He allowed
facts against his clients interests to be admitted.
After not hearing from Pyle for seven months, the client went to his
office and learned a trial date had been set. He authorized Pyle to make a settlement
offer of approximately $1,800 and paid Pyle $250 to prepare letters of
discovery. No letters were prepared, no discovery was conducted and Pyle agreed to a
stipulated judgment of $4,500. When the client objected, Pyle said he would rectify the
situation by writing a letter to the judge.
When the client received his file, it contained a letter to the judge
which had not been mailed and a document which had been altered.
The client sued Pyle; a default judgment was entered when Pyle did
not defend the action. He was ordered to refund $1,000 to the client but did not do so.
In another case Pyle took on a contingency basis, he received and
cashed a settlement check, but did not place the money in his trust account. He repeatedly
told his client there was a delay with the draft clearing his account and did not disburse
his funds for six months. The bar court found that Pyle misappropriated client funds, made
misrepresentations to a client, failed to place entrusted funds in a trust account, and
used the trust account for personal purposes.
Pyle also was the attorney of record in three cases and took action
on those matters while he was suspended for nonpayment of bar dues.
Pyle has a prior record of discipline.
ROBERT NEIL MARCUS [#158299], 37, of Los Angeles was
suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a one-year
actual suspension, and was ordered to make restitution, prove his rehabilitation, take the
MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect June 11, 2000.
The State Bar Court found that in representing a client in a loss of
consortium claim, Marcus asserted a claim in bad faith to fees he was not owed, failed to
deposit and maintain the disputed fees in a client trust account although he had notice of
pending tax liens against him and allowed the funds to be taken by the IRS to satisfy his
personal tax obligations and, in part, a default judgment. He took no steps to have the
levied funds released by the taxing authorities.
In addition, the court found, Marcus charged an unconscionable fee,
claiming in excess of $28,000 for work the court valued at no more than $2,000 and for
which he was awarded no fees in two arbitrations.
The case began as a personal injury and loss of consortium claim by a
couple who eventually divorced. The divorce settlement provided the wife with spousal
support of more than $72,000, plus 5 percent of any future net recovery received by the
husband in his personal injury case.
When the wife hired Marcus to handle the loss of consortium claim, he
was put on notice that his contingency fee did not extend to the clients divorce
settlement money, which had been agreed to prior to his hiring.
The personal injury case settled in favor of Marcus client and
her ex-husband and the loss of consortium claim settled for $100,000. Marcus had several
discussions with the couples personal injury lawyer calculating the wifes 5
percent share of that settlement. They agreed she would receive $82,480.79, which included
the $72,000 from the divorce and another $10,000 representing her share of the personal
injury settlement less about $3,000 in costs.
When Marcus and the client received the $100,000 settlement in the
loss of consortium case, he claimed he was entitled to $61,826 as fees one-third
from that case and one-third ($28,493) from the divorce settlement lien against the
personal injury settlement.
The client disagreed and instructed Marcus to take one-third of the
loss of consortium settlement as his fee, disburse $38,173 to her and place the remaining
$28,493 in trust as disputed funds. Marcus sued her.
He and the client then placed the disputed funds in a money market
account rather than a client trust account.
Both a fee arbitrator and a judicial arbitrator ruled that Marcus was
not entitled to any part of the divorce settlement in fees.
Meanwhile, the money market account was depleted when the IRS and the
California Franchise Tax Board seized most of it to satisfy Marcus outstanding tax
obligations and a bank seized what was left to satisfy a $156,790 default judgment against
Marcus. Marcus took no action to have any of the agencies replenish the account and his
client received none of the money to which she was entitled. She has never received her
The court cited in mitigation Marcus pro bono work, a donation
to the Diabetes Foundation and the donation of uniforms to a softball team.
DAVID C. ANTON [#94852], 45, of Kensington was
suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 45-day actual
suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect June
In a wrongful termination case filed in federal court, Anton admitted
he fabricated evidence. He attributed his actions to emotional and mental difficulties and
said he sought counseling and planned to take a sabbatical.
As a result of his admission, he was suspended for one year from
federal practice, was ordered to take the professional responsibility exam, reimburse
opposing parties for costs and attorneys fees and pay a $2,000 fine. He paid the
fine and reimbursed the opposing parties.
The matter was referred to the State Bar. Anton stipulated that he
intentionally sought to mislead the court and committed an act of mortal turpitude.
In mitigation, he was suffering from depression, he reported his
misconduct to the bar and cooperated with the investigation, and he removed himself from
the case and took no fee, reduced his workload and contributed $25,000 towards his
clients settlement. In exchange, the opposing parties agreed not to enforce the
order requiring Anton to pay costs and attorneys fees.
Anton was privately reproved in 1989 for failure to deposit funds in
STEVEN JOSEPH BARTH [#104204], 48, of San Jose was
suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 45-day actual
suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect June
Barth stipulated to one count of failing to comply with probation
conditions attached to a 1998 public reproval. He did not submit six quarterly probation
reports, take the MPRE by the required deadline, attend ethics school or keep his address
current with the State Bar.
In a second matter, he stipulated that he failed to perform legal
services competently. He took over an Arizona case although he is not licensed to practice
there. He carried the case on the inactive calendar for months with the courts
permission, but when he finally obtained permission to appear pro hac vice, no work had
been done and the case was dismissed.
MARLENE YVETTE BISHOP [#94732], 50, of Charlotte, N.C.,
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 June 21, 2000.
Bishop stipulated that she made a false representation to the court
and submitted a document containing incorrect information, an act of moral turpitude.
As an attorney in the U.S. Attorneys office, Bishop failed to
meet a deadline for filing the governments answer. Several days after the deadline,
Bishop asked her secretary to call the judges secretary and say the answer had been
prepared but not filed on time because her secretary was absent from work. Her secretary
later became aware that Bishop had not completed the answer until after the deadline and
informed a supervisor.
When the motion for extra time was filed, it contained the incorrect
explanation about the absent secretary. Bishops office informed the judge about the
misstatements, which she admitted.
Bishop is also a member of the Washington, D.C. bar, which issued an
informal admonition as a result of her misconduct.
In mitigation, Bishop had recently adopted a newborn child at the
time of her misconduct, her older child had medical problems and Bishop also developed a
neurological disorder. She remains under treatment and also receives psychological
She has no record of prior discipline, although the stipulation notes
that as a former attorney for the State Bar, she was, or should have been, much more
aware than the average attorney of the wrongfulness of her acts and the likelihood they
involve moral turpitude.
DELORIS ANN BROWN [#107776], 58, of Los Angeles was
suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on one year of probation. The order took effect
June 21, 2000.
Brown stipulated that she did not meet a requirement of a 1998
discipline that she comply with rule 955. She did not submit to the Supreme Court an
affidavit stating that she had notified her clients and other pertinent parties of her
suspension from practice.
In mitigation, she sought help from the State Bars probation
office regarding compliance with rule 955, but was unable to contact anyone because of
layoffs in the discipline office. She filed the correct affidavit late.
The original discipline was the result of failing to perform
competently, promptly pay client funds or deposit client funds in a trust account.
BRYANT K. CALLOWAY [#140431], 38, of Irvine was
suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation, and was ordered to make
restitution and demonstrate his rehabilitation. The order took effect June 21, 2000.
Calloway stipulated that he did not comply with the conditions of a
1998 private reproval. He did not submit three quarterly probation reports or submit proof
of passing the MPRE on time. He has since passed the exam.
The reproval was the result of failing to keep a client informed
about significant developments in a case and failing to perform legal services
In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar and he experienced family
RICHARD JAMES COOPER [#88156], 48, of San Jose was
suspended for six months, until he makes restitution and until the State Bar Court grants
a motion to terminate the suspension. If the suspension exceeds two years, he must prove
his rehabilitation. He also was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The
order took effect June 21, 2000.
In a default proceeding, the bar court found that Cooper failed to
perform legal services competently, return unearned fees or maintain a current address
with the bar. He also practiced law while suspended and committed acts of moral turpitude.
Cooper was hired in 1997 to handle a name change for a clients
adult stepson and a minor for whom the client was the legal guardian. Although he prepared
the papers and had the client sign them, he did not file the petition or obtain the
consent of the natural parents of the minor about the name change.
Cooper subsequently was suspended from practice for not paying his
He told the client a hearing on the name changes was scheduled and
said he would arrange for the minor childs mother to agree to the name change. In
fact, no hearing was scheduled. He then told the client that the childs
parents consent was not necessary.
When the client learned the petition had not been filed and a hearing
was never scheduled, he fired Cooper and asked for a refund of the $1,750 fee he had paid.
When no refund was forthcoming, the client was awarded a judgment against Cooper for
$1,750. It was not paid.
In mitigation, Cooper has no record of discipline in 17 years of
RUDY DAVID GUZZETTA [#59450], 53, of San Jose was
suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation and was ordered to take
the MPRE within one year. The order took effect June 21, 2000.
Guzzetta stipulated that in two matters, he did not return client
papers and property, despite the repeated
requests of his clients.
In both matters, he represented criminal defendants. After each was
convicted, they were represented by new attorneys to appeal their convictions. When the
appellate lawyers sought the files, Guzzetta did not provide them. In one matter, a
paralegal went to Guzzettas office to retrieve the file.
Guzzetta also did not cooperate with the bars investigation.
He has two records of discipline, in 1987 and 1993, for misconduct
including failure to perform legal services competently and failure to properly preserve
In mitigation, Guzzetta was suffering from physical difficulties at
the time of the misconduct.
MALCOLM LEVINTHAL [#32209], 73, of Santa Barbara was
suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation and was ordered to take
the MPRE within one year. The order took effect June 21, 2000.
Levinthal stipulated that he practiced law while suspended for
non-payment of bar dues.
At the time he was suspended in 1995, Levinthal asked the bar to
waive payment of fees and costs he owed ($1,300) or postpone payment until the following
year, because he did not have enough money to pay what he owed. The bar notified him it
could not process his request immediately.
At the same time, he faced a court deadline in a matter he had been
handling for two years for a long-time client. He filed two documents with the court,
which addressed the question of filing the appellate documents while Levinthal was
suspended and the court ruled that it was permissible in order to preserve his
Levinthal was disciplined in 1994 for failure to avoid adverse
interests and for failing to keep his address current with the bar.
In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar, no clients were harmed,
and he faced financial difficulties at the time of his misconduct.
CATHERINE THUY THANH SANCHIRICO [#170682], 33, of Foothill
Ranch was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on two years of probation.
The order took effect June 21, 2000.
Sanchirico stipulated that she did not comply with the conditions
attached to a 1997 private reproval by not completing six hours of continuing education in
law office management. She also did not respond when disciplinary charges were filed and
her default was entered in June 1999. Sanchirico was placed on inactive enrollment at that
The private reproval was for failing to perform, improperly
withdrawing from representation, failing to refund unearned fees and trust account
In mitigation, Sanchirico tried to file a change of address with the
bar during its shutdown following the 1997 veto of the fee bill, but the change was not
made. She also was unable to obtain information about her discipline at the time. She
maintains she sent a probation report which was not received by the bar.
JAMES HARVEY SLOEY [#78180], 52, of Manhattan Beach
was suspended for 30 months, stayed, placed on three years of probation, and was ordered
to make restitution and to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect June 21,
Sloey entered into a stipulation with the State Bar in 1996, but
because of financial problems was unable to comply with the requirement that he make
restitution to one individual. He did comply with the other terms of the probation,
including submitting quarterly reports, completing 30 hours of education in both law
office management and/or ethics and client relations, attending ethics school and client
trust account school and taking the MPRE.
The newest order requires him to complete restitution in the amount
The original discipline resulted from Sloeys failure to perform
legal services competently.
LUIS RENE VALDEZ [#153865], 39, of Santa Ana was
suspended for six months, stayed, and placed on two years of probation. The order took
effect June 21, 2000.
Valdez stipulated to misconduct in three matters.
In two of the cases, he represented clients on workers
compensation claims, but both hired a new lawyer after not hearing from Valdez for lengthy
periods. Valdez did not provide the clients files to the new lawyer for nine months.
In a third workers compensation matter, he stopped returning
his clients phone calls and the client hired a new lawyer.
Valdez stipulated to failing to release client property promptly and
failing to respond to a clients reasonable status inquiries.
Valdez has two prior disciplines: a public reproval in 1997 for
improperly withdrawing from a case and failing to respond to client inquiries or cooperate
with the bars investigation, and a 1999 suspension for disobeying a court order and
failing to comply with conditions attached to the reproval.
In mitigation, Valdez was under financial stress, he cooperated with
the bars investigation and no clients were harmed.
WALTER F. WIGGINS JR. [#138403], 38, of Verdugo City was
suspended for six months, stayed, and placed on 18 months of probation. The order took
effect June 21, 2000.
Wiggins represented a corporation in the collection of accounts
receivable; he was required to remit the companys portion of all the money collected
on its behalf. Although he collected numerous checks over the course of nine months, he
did not turn over any funds to the client.
The client fired Wiggins and despite repeated demands for an
accounting, he did not pay any funds for nine months.
He stipulated that he did not promptly pay client funds, failed to
provide an accounting, failed to return client files for more than a year and a half, and
used his client trust account as a personal account, commingling personal and client
In mitigation, Wiggins has no record of discipline. His delay in
paying monies, returning files and accounting for client funds was exacerbated by a fire
in his office and the Northridge earthquake, both of which caused damage to his office and
its contents and resulted in the dislocation of his practice.
DONALD JOSEPH ZAITZOW [#99213], 47, of San Diego was
suspended for one year, stayed, and was placed on one year of probation with a 75-day
actual suspension. The order took effect June 21, 2000.
Zaitzow stipulated to misconduct in four consolidated cases, each the
result of practicing law while suspended for non-payment of bar dues.
He was previously publicly reproved for failing to perform legal
services competently, communicate with a client, or return an unearned fee and client
file. He did not comply with the conditions of the reproval.
In mitigation, Zaitzow suffers from severe diabetes-related health
problems, including a heart condition and symptoms which affected his mental ability to
concentrate and attend to his responsibilities.
He has reduced his practice, handling fewer than 10 cases.
HOWARD STEPHEN LEVINE [#61881], 50, of Arleta was
suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a six-month
actual suspension, and was ordered to comply with rule 955. If the actual suspension
exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect June 22, 2000.
Levine stipulated to mishandling client funds in two personal injury
After receiving settlement funds and depositing them in his client
trust account, Levine allowed the balance in the account to fall below the required
amount, he did not provide an accounting to his clients when asked to do so, he
misappropriated funds and he wrote checks against insufficient funds. His acts constituted
In mitigation, Levine had no record of discipline for almost 25
years, he completed the bars trust accounting class, and he no longer practices.
JONATHAN ROBERT ADLER [#49989], 59, of Beverly Hills
was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a six-month
actual suspension and until he makes restitution, and he 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 June 23, 2000.
Adler was charged with failing to report to the State Bar a $1,100
sanction imposed by a Los Angeles court and with making misrepresentations in quarterly
reports while he was on disciplinary probation.
He stipulated that he did not pay the sanction and that two probation
reports contained inaccuracies, but he disputed the sanction order and argued that if it
were void, he would not be required to report it to the bar.
The sanction was imposed in the first of two unlawful detainer
actions. In the second action, Adler obtained a $26,000 judgment against the opposing
party. He argued that he was entitled to one-third of that judgment and therefore has the
right of set-off against the sanction claim.
However, according to a finding by State Bar Court Judge Carlos
Velarde, who rejected Adlers arguments, there is no court order granting Adler the
right to set off his claim, and the sanction order resulted from the first, not the second
unlawful detainer action granting his client the $26,000 judgment.
Velarde found that Adler failed to report the sanction to the bar
within 30 days and disobeyed a court order. He also found that Adler failed to comply with
Adler has a record of three prior discipines. In 1994, he was
suspended for practicing law while suspended for non-payment of bar dues over a four-year
period. The following year, he was disciplined for improperly withdrawing from employment,
and in 1997, he was again disciplined for failing to perform legal services competently,
return client files or keep his client informed.
In mitigation, Adler spent a large part of his career in public
service and has done pro bono work for more than 20 years.
JUDITH A. FINCH [#114851], 64, of Alamo was
suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on two years of probation with an actual
30-day suspension and until she demonstrates her rehabilitation and satisfies a judgment
entered in Alameda County Superior Court. If the suspension exceeds 90 days, she must
comply with rule 955. The order took effect Aug. 16, 2000,
Finch stipulated to three acts of misconduct relating to entering
into business agreements with a client.
In the first instance, Finch and her husband bought a condominium in
1988 with a client and her husband. By doing so, Finch entered into a business agreement
with a client whose terms were not in writing and to which the client did not give written
In 1991, Finch and her husband accepted personal loans of $10,000
from the client, promising to repay the loans over time. Finch stipulated that she entered
into a business transaction which was unfair to the client, the terms were not disclosed
to or consented to in writing by the client, and Finch did not advise the client to seek
In 1992, the client arranged a $50,000 loan to refinance the 1988
loan related to the purchase of the condominium. The loan was to be secured by the
clients residence and Finch and her husband were to repay one-half of the principle
plus interest. In 1996, the terms of the refinance agreement were put in writing and
post-dated to 1992.
The terms of both the $10,000 loan and the refinance agreement were
unfair because no collateral was provided by Finch and her husband and no promissory note
was executed to memorialize the Finches obligations.
The client eventually sued Finch for malpractice and Finch and her
husband for breach of contract and won a
judgment of $50,000 which has not been paid.
In mitigation, Finch has no record of discipline since her 1984
admission to the bar.