STEVEN J. BARTH [#104204], 50, of Pleasanton
was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on four years of
suspension with a 320-day actual suspension and was ordered to take
the MPRE, attend ethics school and comply with rule 955. If the actual
suspension exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The
order took effect Dec. 26, 2001.
Barth violated the terms of a 2000 probation by
failing to file three quarterly probation reports, take the MPRE or
attend ethics school within a year of the discipline order, and by not
changing his official membership address.
The discipline was ordered as a result of
Barth's failure to comply with a court order or perform legal
services competently. He also did not comply with conditions attached
to a 1998 public reproval. That discipline in turn was ordered because
Barth did not meet conditions attached to an agreement in lieu of
discipline, ordered because of his failure to perform competently.
In mitigation, Barth cooperated with the bar's
investigation and no client was harmed by his misconduct.
The probation of JOHN C. PYLE [#98212], 55, of
Lodi was revoked, the previous stay of suspension was lifted and
he was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of
probation with an actual two-year suspension and was ordered to prove
his rehabilitation, attend ethics school, take the MPRE and make
restitution. Credit toward the actual suspension will be given for a
period of involuntary inactive enrollment that began July 1, 2001. The
order took effect Dec. 27, 2001.
Pyle was suspended for four years, stayed, and
placed on four years of probation with an actual 30-month suspension
in 2000. He did not comply with probation conditions - he failed to
file a quarterly probation report or certificate
from a certified public accountant.
Pyle was publicly reproved in a default
proceeding in 1996 for failing to promptly refund unearned fees or
cooperate with the bar's investigation.
When he did not comply with probation conditions
attached to the reproval, he was suspended in 2000 in a default
proceeding. That order also resulted from a failure to deposit client
funds in a trust account, perform legal services competently,
communicate with clients, return unearned fees or promptly pay client
funds and for committing an act of moral turpitude.
WILLIS ADRIAN KOFFROTH [#50922], 81, of
Manhattan Beach was suspended for six months, stayed, and placed
on one year of probation. The order took effect Dec. 29, 2001.
Koffroth stipulated to misconduct in two matters,
both involving his endorsement of checks not made out to him.
In both matters, he took over personal injury
claims from other lawyers and when they settled, received and endorsed
checks from the insurance companies payable to the other lawyers.
Koffroth endorsed the checks by signing the other lawyers' names
without their knowledge. In both cases, he disbursed the funds to
himself, the clients and their doctor.
When the other lawyers learned the cases had been
settled, both complained to the State Bar. Koffroth paid both to
satisfy their claim for fees - $125 in one case and $1,600 in the
He stipulated that his actions constituted moral
Koffroth was disciplined in 1980 and 1985 for
failing to perform legal services competently.
In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar's
investigation, no clients were harmed and he demonstrated remorse.
JOHN WALI MUSTAFA [#171355], 38, of Redondo
Beach was suspended for five years, stayed, placed on five years
of probation with an actual two-year suspension and was ordered to
make restitution, take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order
took effect Dec. 29, 2001.
Mustafa stipulated to misconduct in four matters.
He substituted into a civil matter, representing
four clients against a music company, and filed a second amended
complaint to his original federal filing without the court's
permission. The defendants won $5,000 in sanctions, claiming Mustafa
and his clients "had unreasonably and vexatiously multiplied the
proceedings" in the case.
In the meantime, his clients' former lawyer
filed two attorney fee liens.
The music company settled the case for $120,000
and issued a check payable to the four plaintiffs, the first lawyer
and Mustafa, who had several conversations about the fee owed the
first lawyer. Nonetheless, Mustafa negotiated the check without the
other lawyer's endorsement and disbursed the funds to his clients
When the other lawyer sued Mustafa for fraud and
conversion, he sent the dispute to fee arbitration. He and his clients
failed to appear at the fee arb hearing and the other lawyer was
awarded $51,646.40 as his fee, plus reimbursement for costs and
interest. The court also found that Mustafa had acted fraudulently
when he converted the settlement funds, and ordered punitive damages
of $50,000 against him.
He stipulated that he failed to report judicial
sanctions to the State Bar and that he committed an act of moral
turpitude by converting the settlement funds.
In another matter, Mustafa filed a wrongful
termination complaint, representing his client on a contingency fee
basis. He did not oppose any of four motions filed by the defendants,
and the motions were granted. He also did not oppose a motion for
monetary sanctions, nor did he appear in court for the hearing. The
court ordered that the complaint be stricken and imposed sanctions of
more than $6,300. Although Mustafa moved for reconsideration, he
didn't appear at the hearing.
Over a period of several months, the client
called Mustafa repeatedly, but he did not return the calls. He also
did not respond to a State Bar investigator.
The third case involved a civil complaint against
a mortuary for mishandling human remains. The complaint was filed on
behalf of the deceased's three children. Mustafa did not return six
phone calls from the clients over an eight-month period. He also did
not cooperate with the bar's investigation.
Mustafa also commingled personal and business
funds in his client trust account and wrote checks for personal
expenses against the account.
In mitigation, he had family problems at the time
of the misconduct and he cooperated with the bar's investigation.