The probation of DOYLE EUGENE BERRY [#42506],
70, of Anaheim was revoked, the previously ordered stay of
suspension was lifted and he was placed on four years of probation
with an actual four-year suspension. He was ordered to prove his
rehabilitation. The order took effect April 20, 2001.
Berry stipulated that he did not comply with
probation conditions attached to a 1998 discipline order: he failed to
submit six probation reports or attend ethics school.
He has six prior instances of discipline.
The 1998 matter was the result of failing to
perform legal services competently, return client files, preserve
client funds in a trust account, promptly pay out client funds or
refund unearned fees. He engaged in similar misconduct in 1986, when
he was disciplined for failure to communicate with a client, return
client papers or refund unearned fees and for withdrawing from
representation without protecting his client's interests.
FRED ULYSSES HAMMETT JR. [#41663], 51, of San
Diego was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of
probation with an actual 75-day suspension and was ordered to take the
MPRE within one year. The order took effect May 5, 2001, although the
actual suspension did not begin until May 10.
Hammett stipulated to misconduct in five
consolidated cases, all involving his failure to maintain a required
balance in his client trust accounts.
In one matter, he filed a personal injury lawsuit
against a fitness club and received settlements from three separate
entities totaling more than $120,000. He repeatedly allowed the
balance in his client trust account to fall below the required amount
for the three settlements. At one point, the balance fell to $58.46,
when the account was required to hold at least $24,225.73.
In a property damage matter for which Hammett
received a settlement check for more than $100,022, the balance in the
client trust account fell below the required amount ($25,944.19) on at
least five occasions, including one date when the balance was down to
The remaining cases involved similar conduct.
In mitigation, Hammett has no record of prior
discipline, he demonstrated remorse and cooperated with the bar's
DERK W. SCHUTMAAT [#163633], 45, of Roseville
was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for three
years with a 90-day actual suspension. He was ordered to comply with
rule 955 and take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect May
Schutmaat stipulated to three counts of
misconduct, all of which involved money matters. In one 1995 case,
Schutmaat failed to notify a client that he had received a partial
divorce settlement for $2,025 on her behalf. The client learned about
the check five months later when told of it by her ex-husband.
In a second count attached to that case,
Schutmaat charged an unconscionable fee, collecting from a client both
an hourly and maximum contingency fee. He first collected the hourly
fee, telling the client he would agree to a 30 percent contingency fee
if the case settled and 40 percent if it went to trial. The matter
settled, but Schutmaat failed to credit the client with $3,296 he owed
In another case, Schutmaat issued at least 25
checks in 1997 and 1998 from a client trust account for personal
expenses or business expenses not related to his client.
In mitigation, Schutmaat had no prior record of
discipline, he cooperated with the bar's investigation, expressed
remorse and paid full restitution to the client he overcharged.
PETER GEORGE VIRAG [#135542], 64, of Tarzana
was suspended for 30 days, stayed, placed on probation for three years
and ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect
May 6, 2001.
Virag stipulated to failing to keep funds in a
client trust account in a 1996 matter. After depositing a settlement
check in a client account, he failed to pay a $1,500 medical bill for
18 months and allowed the account's balance to fall below that sum
on 19 occasions between March 1996 and September 1997.
Around the same time, he wrote 42 checks from the
account, all of which were rejected due to insufficient funds. Virag
drew the checks in anticipation of deposits that hadn't yet
happened. He did pay off all the checks shortly after they were
declined, either by reissuing them or by writing a new check.
Virag failed to keep a ledger for his clients
showing receipts, disbursements and the balance in their account. He
also failed to keep a journal for his client trust account, and his
check register did not show the account's current balance.
In mitigation, Virag paid the medical bill in
full in 1997, showed rehabilitation by having no further misconduct
since that year and cooperated with the bar's investigation.
H. LEE WATSON [#67953], 62, of Sunland was
suspended for three years, stayed, placed on probation for four years
and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took
effect May 6, 2001.
Watson stipulated to acts of moral turpitude
after he pleaded guilty in 1998 to two counts of committing a lewd act
on a child.
He was convicted in Salt Lake City of
fondling two female family members, ages 12 and 13. He was
sentenced to two years in county jail, three years of probation, a
$2,000 fine and sex-offender counseling. He was ordered to cover the
cost of counseling for the girls and their immediate family and to
have no contact with minors other than supervised contact with his
Watson waived his rights to challenge the bar
court's recommendations on the basis of his conviction's finality
and waived his right to review or appeal the case.
As part of his probation, Watson was ordered to
seek psychological help.
In mitigation, Watson had no prior record of
discipline over many years of practice. He has been attending
sex-offender treatment since June 1998, and progress reports indicate
his prognosis is good, with a significantly diminished likelihood to
commit another sex offense.
He cooperated with both the criminal and bar
investigations, expressed remorse and paid restitution. Despite his
criminal conviction, many members of his community -
including a bishop and a former employer - continue to hold
him in high esteem and expressed willingness to continue associating
CHARLES DAVID WEEDE JR. [#51778], 57, of
Redlands was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on probation
for two years with a 45-day actual suspension and was ordered to take
the MPRE within one year. The order took effect May 6, 2001.
Weede stipulated to taking possession of a
client's truck as security for payment of fees without the
client's consent and before creating a written fee agreement. He did
not advise the client in writing of his right to seek independent
The client, jailed in Riverside on criminal
charges, said he was not aware his brother had delivered the Ford
F-150 pickup to Weede, nor did he consent to using the $12,000 truck
in lieu of payment. Weede returned the truck in March 1999, one month
after he took possession of it. In mitigation, the bar court found
Weede acted in good faith.
Weede has a record of prior discipline. In April
1994, he was privately reproved
after being convicted of engaging in an act of prostitution. The
following year, he was placed on probation for failing to comply with
conditions of the reproval, and in 1997 he was again placed on
probation with a 30-day actual suspension for failing to comply with
conditions of his probation.
ARLO HALE SMITH [#96971], 46, of San Francisco
was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on probation for two years
with a 60-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE
within one year. The order took effect May 11, 2001.
Smith stipulated to three counts of misconduct
stemming from a 1996 unlawful detainer case in Contra Costa County. He
filed an unjustified action that misrepresented a woman's financial
stake in the defendant's company, which Smith represented. As a
result, he and the defendants were sanctioned $10,000. Smith did not
pay the sanctions, nor did he report them to the bar.
The third count also involved an unjustified
action: On behalf of his client's company, Smith had filed for
Chapter 13 bankruptcy though he knew or should have known the
partnership was ineligible for Chapter 13 relief. The defendants were
again sanctioned by the court when Smith filed a notice of removal.
Again, Smith did not pay or report the sanctions.
In aggravation, the bar court found Smith's
actions caused harm to his client. In mitigation, he had no prior
record of discipline and was suffering from emotional distress because
his mother had cancer. He also cooperated with the bar's
THOMAS CHASE STUTZMAN [#69452], 51, of San
Jose was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on probation for
two years and ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took
effect May 11, 2001.
Stutzman stipulated to misconduct in three
separate cases. In the first, he failed to refund more than $9,500
owed a client in 1997, after she terminated his employment and
demanded Stutzman pay funds he was holding on her behalf. He asked her
to sign a document stating he had no legal obligation to pay. At the
time, he erroneously believed he could keep a minimum fee. The bar
court said he acted in good faith and now understands his mistake.
In the second matter, Stutzman ran afoul of
husband-and-wife clients when, in demanding additional fees, he
offered to accept massages from the wife in exchange for legal
services. She interpreted this to be a sexual overture, though
Stutzman maintained he had no intention to proposition her. There was
no sexual relationship or improper contact.
In the third case, Stutzman failed to return a
$2,500 fee to a client within a reasonable period of time, doing so in
August 2000 only after the State Bar sent a letter of inquiry.
Stutzman has since redrafted his fee agreement
and no longer asks for non-refundable fees.
In mitigation, Stutzman had no prior record of
discipline and cooperated with the bar's investigation.
JEFFREY BENNETT WOLIN [#137398], 43, of
Tarzana was suspended for three years, stayed, and placed on
probation for four years with an actual suspension of 30 months and
until he has shown proof of rehabilitation and fitness to practice. He
was ordered to take the MPRE during the actual suspension period and
comply with rule 955. The order took effect May 11, 2001.
Wolin stipulated he accepted employment with Bio-Rad
Laboratories, working as assistant general counsel and a legal
consultant from 1994 to 1997. All the while, he was suspended from the
practice of law.
In February 1995, Wolin participated in
investigating a sexual harassment claim, signing a declaration under
condition of perjury that he was in-house counsel for the company. He
asserted that he had assisted in the investigation and concurred in a
recommendation to fire an employee.
By accepting the position and participating in
legal matters, Wolin held himself out to his employer, the court,
opposing counsel and the public as entitled to practice law when he
was not, which constituted an act of moral turpitude.
In mitigation, Wolin's actions did not harm his
In aggravation, the bar court found Wolin was
dishonest in leading his employer to believe he was licensed to
practice. Also, a multiple pattern of misconduct was evident: The
reason he had been suspended in the first place was because he had
offered his services as a lawyer while serving an actual suspension
for a 1994 disciplinary action.
In July 1994, he received an 18-month actual
suspension for an act of moral turpitude. In 1996, he received a
six-month actual suspension. He resigned from his law firm, advising
the partners he had medical problems but not revealing the suspension.
He then called a client of the firm and offered to handle a case. When
the client learned from the bar of Wolin's suspension, he notified
the law firm.
KEVIN BRIAN CONNOLLY [#76107], 51, of Costa
Mesa was suspended for 180 days, stayed, placed on probation for
one year with a 60-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the
MPRE within one year. The order took effect May 16, 2001.
Connolly stipulated to three counts of
failing to reasonably supervise his staff after allowing them
to oversee trust account transactions in two separate cases. He had
already been disciplined for mismanaging his trust account during the
same time period in 1993.
In one case, a disbursement of a client's
three-part settlement became confusing and one payment was delayed
because Connolly failed to maintain adequate records of the settlement
in a convoluted construction-defect case. In the other, Connolly
failed to pay off a client's $3,275 medical bill - he had been
informed by staff that all the settlement funds had been properly
distributed. Two years later, the client received a notice from a
collection agency noting the bill had not been paid. Connolly made
payments to the medical provider until the bill was paid.
Connolly was heavily involved in trial during the
misconduct and because of this, he delegated the client trust
transactions to staff. The bar court noted 1993 was an aberrational
period in Connolly's legal career. The misconduct was not repeated
after that time, and Connolly has ceased delegating client trust
transactions to his staff.
Connolly was placed on probation in 1995 for a
similar disciplinary matter. He distributed settlement funds to a
client but not to six medical lienholders, and his client trust
account fell below the required balance on five separate occasions.
In another prior discipline, he received
two years of probation in 1989 for misleading advertising
conduct in 1983.
In aggravation, the misconduct involved client
trust funds. In mitigation, Connolly has significantly altered the
structure of his practice to prevent further problems.
EVELYN ANN KRAMER [#107242], 45, of Los
Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on three
years of probation with a 60-day actual suspension. The order took
effect May 30, 2001.
Kramer stipulated to six counts of misconduct.
She failed to perform legal services competently
in a child support matter and an action against her client's former
attorney. Although she prepared a complaint, a request for an order
and a declaration, she never filed the complaint.
Kramer did not respond to several inquiries from
her client, nor did she inform the client the complaint had not been
filed. After the client complained to the State Bar, Kramer contacted
her to explain she had been out of her office and would be in touch
soon. Kramer never did respond to her client.
Kramer was suspended in March 2000 as a result of
other misconduct, and the client learned about the suspension from a
bar investigator. She asked that her file and unearned fees be
returned, but Kramer did not do so for six months. She also did not
cooperate with the bar's investigation.
As part of that suspension order, Kramer was
required to notify her clients about the suspension, return their
papers and refund any unearned fees. She stipulated that her failure
to do so was a failure to obey a court order.
The 2000 suspension was issued for failing to
perform legal services competently, return client files, comply with
probation conditions, cooperate with the bar's investigation, report
sanctions to the bar or pay four court-ordered sanctions.
Kramer also was disciplined in 1997 for failing
to perform competently, respond to client inquiries or deposit client
funds in a trust account.
In mitigation, Kramer believed she had returned
all client files. She had to relocate her office and inadvertently
placed her client's file in a box containing accounting records.
Therefore, her violation of a court order did not involve intentional
misrepresentation to the court.
She also cooperated with bar prosecutors, has
taken several courses in an effort to improve her management skills
and has been performing volunteer work for a charitable organization.
JOSEPH D. PECHELES [#144767], 52, of Ramona
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 May 30, 2001.
Pecheles stipulated to two counts of misconduct.
He was hired to incorporate a non-profit
organization and then was terminated and substituted out. He submitted
the incorporation documents to the secretary of state without his
client's knowledge after his termination. He signed the
ex-client's name to the papers.
Pecheles stipulated that he appeared without
authority as attorney for a party to an action and misrepresented to
the secretary of state that his client had signed the incorporation
The misrepresentation was an act of moral
In mitigation, Pecheles has no prior record of
STANLEY HOWARD ROZANSKI [#81362], 49, of Los
Angeles was suspended for six months, stayed, placed on two years
of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect
May 30, 2001.
Rozanski stipulated to misconduct in five cases.
He was paid $7,000 in advance fees and costs by a
client who lives in Japan to investigate the death of the client's
son. Although Rozanski hired an investigator to conduct surveillance
of a suspect, he ignored repeated requests for progress reports from
two contact persons for the client. He also didn't show up for an
appointment with the client and his friends.
The client fired Rozanski and asked for a refund
of $7,000. When Rozanski did not respond, the client complained to the
State Bar. Almost two years later, Rozanski told the client he had
found no evidence of illegal conduct by the subject of the
surveillance and recommended no further investigation. He said he had
spent the $5,000 fee and all but $150 of the advance costs; he
In a second case, neither Rozanski or an
associate did any work on a dissolution, and the court entered a
default against his client. After Rozanski was fired, he did not
respond to the client's demand for a refund and a return of his
Eighteen months later, Rozanski returned the file
and refunded the advance costs (not the fee) which had not been
deposited in a client trust account.
After settling a personal injury case, Rozanski
deposited two settlement checks in a trust account, but waited nine
months to disburse funds to the opposing counsel to satisfy a lien for
fees. He also did not pay his client's doctor bills, despite the
doctor's agreement to reduce the bill. The doctor went to small
claims court and won a default judgment against Rozanski for $3,278.
He ultimately paid the clients and their doctors
one year after the case settled.
In 1985, Rozanski filed a medical malpractice
lawsuit on behalf of a client, but agreed the following year to stay
the case pending arbitration. Although two attorneys in his firm
promised arbitration in 1990 and 1992, it never happened. Rozanski
assured the client his case remained active in 1997. In 2000, Rozan-ski
moved his offices and did not respond to the client's request for a
status update until the client complained to the bar.
Rozanski returned the client files in August 2000
and ended further representation, saying the statute of limitations
ran prior to the 1985 retention of his firm.
Rozanski stipulated to two counts of failing to
perform legal services competently or promptly pay out client funds,
and one count each of failing to return a client file, deposit client
funds in a client trust account or respond to a client's status
In mitigation, Rozanski has no record of
discipline since his 1978 admission to the bar.
ELLIOTT J. WACHTEL [#107112], 51, of Hollywood
was suspended for 180 days, stayed, placed on two years of probation
and was ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect May 30, 2001.
Wachtel prepared an order approving a request for
attorney's fees and vocational rehabilitation benefits in a
workers' compensation case and had a colleague sign it. Under the
signature was a notation JPT (Judge Pro Tem). The judge for the
Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) later determined the
order was not signed by a WCAB judge and therefore was not valid.
Wachtel, an experienced workers' comp attorney,
had been a volunteer judge pro tem of the WCAB and should have known
that only administrative law judges were permitted to sign orders. He
told the judge he made a mistake and admitted he acted
In mitigation, Wachtel has no discipline in 18
years of practice, he was under stress as a result of institutional
problems within the workers' comp system, he admitted his mistake
and apologized, and his client was not harmed. The benefits and fees
were eventually approved.
ROBERT A. DEL CAMPO [#45005], 63, of Arroyo
Grande was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of
probation with an actual one-year suspension and was ordered to take
the MPRE within one year. Because he received credit for the period of
interim suspension which began April 17, 2000, he is now active. The
order took effect May 30, 2001.
Del Campo was convicted of converting government
property to his own use. He employed a secretarial staff to help with
both his law practice and his work as a federal magistrate. He
submitted a request for reimbursement for $693 to the clerk of the
federal court for work supposedly done by a deputy clerk.
In fact, she had done only half the work.
Del Campo was reimbursed for $693 and used the
money for himself and his law firm. His conduct involved moral
In a second matter, Del Campo prepared a trust
for a client while he was suspended as a result of the criminal
conviction. The client complained to the State Bar because she felt
Del Campo did not do the work as requested; she learned then that
there was a problem with his status. He stipulated that he engaged in
In mitigation, Del Campo has no record of
discipline in 30 years of practice, he notified the bar of his
conviction and he cooperated with its investigation.
GORDON ROBERT FRANCISCO [#93926], 50, of Simi
Valley was suspended for six months, stayed, placed on two years
of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The
order took effect June 6, 2001.
Francisco stipulated that he failed to perform
competently or keep his clients informed about developments in their
personal injury case.
In October 1996, the court assigned the matter
for arbitration and set a trial date. It informed Francisco that
failure to complete the arbitration prior to trial could result in
sanctions and that failure to appear for trial would result in
dismissal of the case.
Francisco never told the clients about the
arbitration and trial dates, the arbitration never took place, he
failed to appear for trial and the case was dismissed. He never
informed the clients about the dismissal. He filed a motion to set
aside the dismissal, but did not serve the defendants or set a hearing
date, and the motion was denied.
Despite repeated phone calls from one of the
clients over a 19-month period, Francisco did not communicate with her
and missed an appointment.
Francisco was suspended from practice in
September 1999 for non-payment of bar dues. The client finally learned
in December 1999 that the case had been dismissed 26 months earlier.
Francisco did not respond to her demand that he return her file.
In mitigation, he has no record of discipline
since his 1980 admission to the bar.
BITA L. HOFFMAN [#159205], 36, of San Diego
was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation
with a 90-day actual suspension and was ordered to comply with rule
955. The order took effect June 6, 2001.
Hoffman stipulated that she practiced law while
suspended and misrepresented to the court and opposing counsel that
she was entitled to practice, committing acts of moral turpitude.
She had been disciplined for modifying a court
order without the court's knowledge or permission.