California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - MARCH 2002
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - March 2002
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News / News Briefs
Midyear meeting will focus on fairness
E-briefs offer bar updates
Three strikes supporter has a change of heart, now wants the law restricted
ABA seeks nominations for three awards
Rule change proposed to protect government whistleblowers
More pamphlets added, translated
Innovation garners awards for 11 courts
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Trials Digest
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Public Comment
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Opinion
From the President - New era of bar-conference cooperation
Conference of Delegates: A valuable ally
PG&E's plan: A power play
Letters to the Editor
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You Need to Know
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - Twilight zone cases can make practice tricky
Former deputy DA, convicted of grand theft, is suspended
Attorney Discipline
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MCLE Self-Study
At tax time, modify debt with caution
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events

DISCIPLINE

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CAUTION!

More than 178,000 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.

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SUSPENSIONS/PROBATION

JOHN R. LIVINGSTON [#80324], 51, of Irvine was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on probation for three years with a 60-day actual suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Oct. 10, 2001.

Livingston was suspended and placed on probation in August 2000 with a requirement that he comply with rule 955 by notifying his clients, opposing counsel and courts that he was suspended and to submit an affidavit to that effect to the Supreme Court. Although he tried to file the affidavit, it was rejected due to a clerical error. He filed the affidavit late.

The underlying discipline was the result of Livingston's failure to comply with conditions attached to an agreement in lieu of discipline he reached with the bar in 1997 as a result of a criminal conviction. He did not file quarterly probation reports.

Livingston was executive vice president of a company and induced a savings and loan to transfer approximately $24 million in corporate bonds to a bank to secure a $9.2 million loan to his corporation. He falsely assured the S&L that all documents and fees would be returned if the transaction was not funded within a specified period, knowing that his company was not in a financial position to do that.

Livingston pleaded no contest and was sentenced to five years, deferred, and was ordered to make restitution of $25,000.

JAMES TERRILL LOCKE [#127516], 53, of Sacramento was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a five-month actual suspension and was ordered to comply with rule 955. The order took effect Oct. 10, 2001.

Locke stipulated to misconduct in six consolidated cases.

Over a five-month period, he wrote 15 checks on his client trust account for personal and non-client related expenses. He also wrote one check against insufficient funds. He did not respond to the bar's investigation.

He did not prepare or file a bankruptcy petition for one client, nor did he return the client's documents or refund his advance fee.

Locke represented another client in a claim against her employer, but was informed by another attorney that the client wished to be represented by the new attorney. Despite numerous requests, Locke never provided the client's file or signed the substitution of attorney form.

In one matter, Locke stipulated that he failed to comply with probation conditions attached to a 1999 discipline - he turned in three probation reports late and they were incomplete. That discipline was imposed as a result of his failure to perform competently, promptly pay client funds, communicate with a client or cooperate with the bar's investigation and for committing an act of moral turpitude.

In mitigation, he was suffering from physical or emotional difficulties as well as financial stress at the time of the misconduct, and he presented letters of reference attesting to his good character.

RAFAEL ARTURO CARDENAS [#59210], 61, of Beverly Hills was suspended for 12 months, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a 30-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Oct. 14, 2001.

Cardenas filed a civil suit for breach of contract and subsequently filed two amended complaints in response to demurrers and motions to strike by the defendants. After about a year, the court notified Cardenas it intended to dismiss the suit on its own motion. Cardenas filed an objection and said he planned to file a third amended complaint.

The court removed the action from its calendar after several months and notified Cardenas again it intended to dismiss the matter. He filed an objection too late and when he did not appear at a hearing, the court dismissed the case. Cardenas did not notify his client, who learned about the dismissal more than a year later.

Cardenas stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently, communicate with his client or cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In mitigation, his wife of 19 years died after a six-year battle with cancer. She was his office manager and paralegal, and her illness resulted in the mismanagement of Cardenas' law office. He was caring for her and the couple's two children and suffered emotional distress as the result of her illness and death.

He also was disciplined in 1993.

OLIVER CHAMI [#157921], 35, of San Diego was suspended for six months, 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 Oct. 14, 2001.

Chami stipulated to misconduct in seven consolidated cases, all the result of his business relationship with a non-lawyer. Chami failed to adequately supervise the individual , who used Chami's name in the operation of a personal injury practice, used a signature stamp bearing Chami's name, accepted cases in Chami's name and converted client funds from Chami's trust account for his own benefit.

Even after he became aware of the problems with his trust account and transferred the balance to a different account, Chami did not close the trust account and did not sever his relationship with the non-lawyer. Unbeknownst to Chami, the non-lawyer formed a business relationship with another attorney who opened a client trust account also utilized by the non-lawyer.

Chami stipulated that he failed to adequately supervise his employees, aided the non-lawyer in the unauthorized practice of law, and failed to maintain proper trust account records.

In one matter, for instance, a client hired Chami to represent her and her two children in claims arising from an auto accident. His office settled the case for $8,300, but the client was not informed about the settlement and did not agree to its terms. The non-lawyer or one of his agents signed three releases of claims pertaining to the settlements.

The non-lawyer or one of his employees endorsed and deposited three settlement checks totaling $8,300 without the client's knowledge. They misappropriated the entire amount. Chami stipulated that his actions and omissions were grossly negligent and amounted to moral turpitude.

Another couple who were involved in an auto accident were contacted by an individual who said he worked for Chami. The couple met with the man and employed Chami.

His office received medical payment drafts for more than $7,000, which were endorsed and deposited by the non-lawyer or one of his employees. The clients knew nothing of the payments.

The non-lawyer or an employee later sent a letter to an insurance company, over Chami's forged signature, saying another attorney was taking over the case.

The non-lawyer or an employee then settled the clients' claims for $17,250, and endorsed and deposited two checks for that amount without notifying the clients. The money was misappropriated.

Chami's failure to supervise the non-lawyer enabled the solicitation of clients, settlement of a claim without the clients' knowledge or consent, the misappropriation of their funds, receipt of settlement funds without notice to the client and the forging of the clients' signatures.

In each of seven similar client matters, Chami stipulated that his actions and omissions constituted gross negligence amounting to moral turpitude.

In mitigation, Chami took full responsibility for his actions, made restitution to his clients totaling $151,098, cooperated with the bar's investigation and he has taken control of his practice. For the past few years, he has performed substantial pro bono work.

The previously ordered probation of ROBERT G. FOYTACK [#98980], 50, of La Mesa was revoked, the stay of suspension was lifted and he was actually suspended for one year and until he proves his rehabilitation. He was ordered to attend ethics school, take the client trust account record-keeping course and comply with rule 955. Credit toward the actual suspension shall be given for a period of involuntary enrollment that began June 30, 2001. The order took effect Oct. 14, 2001.

Foytack failed to comply with probation conditions attached to a 1998 stipulation - he failed to submit four required probation and trust accounting reports on time and did not file proof of completion of ethics school or the trust account record-keeping course on time.

The State Bar Court said it did not find persuasive Foytack's contention that he could not comply with probation conditions due to the bar's virtual shutdown in 1998.

The underlying discipline was the result of several trust accounting violations as well as failure to perform legal services competently, return client files, promptly refund unearned fees or cooperate with the bar's investigation.

RICHARD ALVIN HELLESTO [#61471], 61, of Walnut Creek was suspended for six months, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to pass the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Oct 14, 2001.

Hellesto did not comply with the requirements of an agreement in lieu of discipline; he failed to attend ethics school or take three hours of continuing education courses in law office management.

Hellesto did not perform legal services competently or communicate with a client.

He was disciplined in 1990; his probation in that matter was revoked in 1992.

In mitigation, he was suffering from a severe back ailment which affected his ability to attend to his various duties. He cooperated with the bar's investigation.

RAYMOND KIRK KOLTER [#152579], 39, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a one-year actual suspension and was ordered to make restitution, take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Oct. 14, 2001.

Kolter stipulated to misconduct in nine consolidated cases.

In five matters, he failed to perform legal services competently, and in three of those five, he failed to communicate with his clients. For example, in a divorce case, he did not compel discovery responses, conduct further discovery, enforce court orders or prepare his client for trial. For eight months, he did not respond to his client's numerous attempts to reach him by phone or fax.

Kolter also stipulated that in three matters, he failed to properly maintain his client trust account or pay settlement funds to his clients' medical providers. He also wrote checks against insufficient funds in the trust account, failed to promptly pay out client funds and misappropriated funds he received for clients.

In mitigation, Kolter was suffering from the effects of diabetes, which was undiagnosed, at the time of the misconduct. In addition, his father passed away during the same time period.

KENNETH B. ALEXANDER [#115336], 51, of Northridge was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on four years of probation with a one-year actual suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation, take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Oct. 18, 2001.

Alexander stipulated to 32 counts of misconduct in 11 client matters, all stemming from his problems with alcohol, several arrests and two incarcerations. He failed to perform legal services competently, keep clients informed about developments in their cases, take steps to protect his clients' interests when his representation ended, refund unearned fees, pay out client funds, properly maintain his client trust account or properly supervise his staff.

Twice in February 1998, Alexander was convicted in Los Angeles of driving under the influence. In October of the same year, he was convicted of hit and run, driving on a suspended license and disturbing the peace in two separate incidents. Although he was allowed to serve a 30-day sentence on weekends, he reported to jail for weekend incarceration while intoxicated and in possession of alcohol, so the weekend program was terminated.

He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and a 120-day treatment program for violating probation in all four cases.

In one case, for example, he represented a client on a contingency fee basis in medical malpractice and personal injury claims. Alexander filed an action and was required to keep $500 of the client's advance fee in his client trust account. He allowed the balance to fall to a negative amount.

Alexander says the transactions in his trust account occurred while he was incarcerated and were carried out by his secretary who had no authority to withdraw funds or write checks from that account.

He did not tell his client he was incarcerated, but did say he would appear at a status conference. He failed to do so and did not appear at a later hearing to show cause, which he did not tell his client about. The case was dismissed, but Alexander never informed his client.

Another client paid Alexander $1,000 to represent him in a criminal case. He appeared at the arraignment without the client, and the court set a pretrial conference and released the client on his own recognizance, ordering him to attend  Alcoholics Anonymous meetings each  week. Although Alexander told the client about the pretrial conference, he did not tell him about the AA order.

The client appeared at the pretrial conference, but Alexander did not. Because the client did not have proof of attending AA meetings, the conference was continued. Alexander's secretary appeared at the next conference and told the court he was in a treatment center. Alexander failed to appear at a subsequent conference and the client hired a new attorney.

In mitigation, Alexander's personal life was in turmoil and included the arrest of his wife on domestic violence charges. She was his only office support and when she left him, his practice fell under great stress and he declared bankruptcy. As a result, Alexander began to drink heavily. He is now clean and sober.

LAWRENCE CRAWFORD BRAGG [#33302], 69, of Hacienda Heights was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on four years of probation with a six-month actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE. The actual suspension is consecutive to another period of actual suspension. The order took effect Oct. 18, 2001.

Bragg was disciplined in October 2000 and ordered to comply with rule 955 by notifying all clients and other pertinent parties of his suspension and submitting an affidavit attesting that he had done so to the Supreme Court. He failed to submit the required affidavit.

The underlying discipline was the result of his failure to perform with competence, give written disclosure of a personal relationship, pay client funds promptly, or inform a client of significant developments and making misrepresentations to a client. He also failed to comply with a rule 955 order from a previous discipline.

He was disciplined earlier in 2000 for splitting legal fees with a non-lawyer, failing to inform clients he was in possession of their funds and failing to cooperate with the bar's investigation. He also was disciplined in 1997 for splitting fees with a non-lawyer, failing to perform competently, failing to comply with the terms of an agreement in lieu of discipline and for committing an act of moral turpitude.

In mitigation, Bragg cooperated with the bar's investigation and took steps to demonstrate his remorse. He also filed a rule 955 affidavit on time in one of the earlier disciplines.

Bragg resigned from the bar Nov. 17, 2001.

MARY PATRICIA CLARK [#177852], 37, of El Cajon was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual 120-day suspension, and was ordered to prove her rehabilitation, make restitution, take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Oct. 18, 2001.

Clark stipulated to misconduct in four matters.

In the first, she sent a letter to her clients' former employer in a wrongful termination and age discrimination case and prepared a complaint, but never filed it or took any other action. In response to her clients' numerous phone calls and letters, she said she was in communication with opposing counsel, who had made settlement offers too small to be considered. She also said she had filed the complaint.

She then faxed a copy of the complaint on which a court case number was written. The clients learned no action was pending when they contacted the court.

Another client paid Clark $741 to obtain a legal separation and was led to believe the petition was filed. Clark later agreed to file divorce papers. She also told the client papers had been or would be sent to her husband. In fact, no papers were filed and her husband was never served.

In another divorce matter, a client retained Clark for $500, but she did no work. When they met later to discuss the client's options, Clark said she would charge her $1,000. The client agreed to a payment schedule and Clark agreed to refund the original $500. Her check bounced.

Clark told the client the papers had been signed and would be filed immediately, and she assured the client they would be in court within a month. Relying on her misrepresentations, the client neglected her mortgage payment. When the client discovered that nothing had been filed, Clark blamed an attorney service she used for filing. Clark later said she had a court date and said the husband had been served. None of it was true. She did not return the client's files or refund the unearned fee.

In those three matters, Clark stipulated that she failed to perform legal services competently, respond to a client's status inquiries or return unearned fees, and committed acts of moral turpitude by misrepresenting the facts to her clients.  In another matter, she deposited an advance for costs from a client in her general business bank account.

In mitigation, Clark was suffering from physical or emotional difficulties at the time of the misconduct.

TONY FORBERG [#172220], 39, of Los Angeles was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual 45-day suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Oct. 18, 2001.

Forberg stipulated to misconduct in two cases.

He settled a personal injury case for about $4,200, but never disbursed any funds to the client and allowed the balance in his trust account to fall to $9.63.

In a second matter, he deposited in his client trust account settlement drafts totaling $14,500. Three weeks later, the balance in the account stood at $39.80 and no disbursements had been made. Several months later, he issued two checks, totaling more than $10,000, to his clients as the proceeds from their settlement. Although his account only had a balance of $4,600, the bank honored both checks. Forberg deposited $12,800 the same day.

In both cases, he stipulated that he supervised his client trust account with gross negligence and committed acts of moral turpitude.

Forberg was not able to handle his office management responsibilities when his attorney-wife and paralegal quit at about the same time. He subsequently closed one of his two offices, employed a bookkeeper to assist with record-keeping and stopped taking complex cases until he can properly supervise his office.

He cooperated with the bar's investigation and had no prior record of discipline.

JOHN HAIG MISSIRLIAN [#66885], 51, of Fresno was suspended for 90 days, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to make restitution and take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Oct. 18, 2001.

Missirlian stipulated to misconduct in three matters.

He was paid $1,500 by a client to prepare wills and durable powers of attorney. No documents were produced at one scheduled meeting, and at a second meeting, Missirlian offered a power of attorney for the client's wife to sign, but no wills or powers of attorney. He did no further work.

When another attorney working for the client asked for an accounting of the funds the client paid, Missirlian did not respond. He did not refund the unearned fee for one year. He also did not maintain the proper balance in his trust account in order to refund the fee.

As a result of his actions, Missirlian reached an agreement in lieu of discipline with the State Bar, but he then failed to comply with the conditions attached to it. He filed no quarterly reports or statements from his treating mental health professional.

In a second matter, another couple paid him $1,500 to review documents and provide advice regarding the wife's eligibility for Medi-Cal. Missirlian then failed to respond to numerous calls from the clients, with the exception of one instance when he said he would provide an assessment of the wife's position.

He did not refund the unearned fees.

Missirlian stipulated to two counts of failing to perform legal services competently and one count each of failure to communicate with clients, deposit client funds in a client trust account, promptly pay client funds or refund unearned fees.

In mitigation, Missirlian practiced for 26 years without any discipline, expressed remorse, is being treated for Attention Deficit Disorder, which appears to be the cause of his misconduct, and his clients were not harmed.

NEWLAND CHENOWETH SHEPARD [#132824], 46, of Long Beach was suspended for one year, stayed, actually suspended for 30 days and until the State Bar Court grants a motion to terminate the suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE. 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 Oct. 18, 2001.

In a default proceeding, the bar court found that Shepard failed to communicate with a client or cooperate with the bar's investigation, and he improperly withdrew from employment.

He failed to appear at an administrative hearing before the Board of Podiatric Medicine and his client was forced to represent himself. He also did not respond to numerous phone calls from the client seeking information about his case.

In mitigation, he has no record of discipline in 11 years of practice.

LAURENCE DAVID STRICK [#75097], 51, of Los Angeles 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 Oct. 18, 2001.

Strick stipulated to misconduct in three matters.

In two cases, he did not perform any of the legal work for which he was hired or respond to his clients' many inquiries about the status of their cases. In one matter, he also improperly withdrew from representation, and in the other, he failed to refund an unearned $1,500 fee or cooperate with the bar's investigation.

Strick was given a stayed six-month suspension and placed on two years of probation in 2000, but he did not comply with the terms of probation. He failed to submit proof of completion of eight hours of MCLE ethics courses and did not complete ethics school, provide quarterly probation reports or proof of passing the MPRE on time.

The 2000 discipline was the result of Strick's failure to comply with conditions attached to a 1997 private reproval.

In mitigation, Strick's daughter suffers from severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and resides in San Francisco in order to obtain the best treatment. Strick is forced to divide his time between northern and southern California. His daughter's illness worsened during the time of his misconduct and contributed to his failure to perform legal services competently.

ROY CHESTER DICKSON [#105583], 53, of Yorba Linda was suspended for six months, stayed, and placed on four years of probation. The order took effect Oct. 21, 2001.

Dickson stipulated to misconduct, which was primarily the result of health problems, in two cases.

He was employed to represent a plaintiff, a convicted felon confined to prison, in a medical malpractice case. The plaintiff's brother paid Dickson $5,000 and signed a fee agreement allowing for an additional 20 percent of any recovery.

Dickson failed to appear at six hearings or depositions over the course of several months. During that time, he visited or was admitted to the hospital nine times, suffered an ulcerated eye and was left partially blinded. He also became dependent on pain medication. He filed three motions to set aside various court rulings; two were granted.

The client sued him for malpractice; the case was settled.

Although the client was aware of Dickson's medical problems and Dickson said he was incapable of carrying out his obligations, he never sought to be relieved from the case.

His behavior was similar in a breach of contract case he was handling at the same time. A default judgment was entered when Dickson failed to appear and the client ultimately asked Dickson to file a bankruptcy petition for him.

Dickson filed a motion requesting a time extension to file a reorganization and payment plan, but the deadline passed. The civil case was taken off calendar and the bankruptcy court closed the bankruptcy case.

Dickson stipulated that in both matters, he failed to perform legal services competently or respond to client status inquries.

Dickson was privately reproved in 1998 for failing to perform, return client files or communicate with clients.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar's investigation, reimbursed the second client for unearned fees, and attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to deal with his pain killer dependency.

WOLODYMYR Y. DOZORSKY [#98515], 52, of Irvine was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on four years of probation with an actual 18-month suspension and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation, take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Oct. 21, 2001.

Dozorsky stipulated that he practiced law while suspended, misrepresented his status to clients, opposing counsel and the courts, thereby committing acts of moral turpitude, and prepared and filed a false affidavit in order to comply with a rule 955 order from an earlier discipline.

He was suspended for four months in 1998. He continued to represent a client in her divorce proceeding, appeared in court and entered into a stipulation on his client's behalf. At no time did he inform the client or her husband's attorney of his suspension.

In a second case, he continued to represent a client in a child custody proceeding and made one court appearance. The following day the client fired him. Four days later, he filed an opposition to a motion to dismiss the child custody case.

Several days later, Dozorsky told the court clerk he would not appear at two scheduled hearings at his client's request. His client was not represented at either hearing and the case was dismissed. The court set a hearing on the issue of sanctions, but Dozorsky never notified the former client. About a month later, he told opposing counsel his client had fired him.

The court ultimately ordered sanctions against Dozorsky's client amounting to $5,000. When the client learned about the sanctions, she hired a new attorney, but the court denied her pleas for reconsideration.

As part of his probation in the case for which he was suspended, Dozorsky was to file with the Supreme Court an affidavit stating that he had complied with rule 955 by informing all his clients, opposing counsel and pertinent courts of his suspension. Although he filed the affidavit, his declaration was false.

In addition to the 1998 suspension, Dozorsky also was disciplined in 1993 for failure to perform legal services competently, deposit client funds in a trust account or promptly pay out client funds.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar's investigation, he had severe financial problems, and his misconduct resulted in part from his mistaken belief that pleadings he filed with the Supreme Court and the bar court's review department requesting a stay of his suspension amounted to a stay until he received each court's ruling.

LORIE ANN RUMINSON [#131264], 48, of Marysville was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on three 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 Oct. 21, 2001.

Ruminson wrote 13 checks against her client trust account for a total of $2,679.03. Some were for personal, non-trust account related expenses.

She stipulated that she commingled personal and client funds and failed to maintain client funds in trust.

In mitigation, she has no record of discipline, she cooperated with the bar's investigation and she suffered from health problems which contributed in part to her lapse in judgment.

ARTHUR ASHUR GRAVES III [#84881], 51, of Newport Beach was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a three-month actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Oct. 21, 2001.

Graves stipulated to misconduct in four consolidated cases.

In the first matter, Graves acted as the lawyer for a client in connection with the sale of investment contracts pertaining to the ownership of wireless cable television systems. Graves was legal counsel to one of three companies, president and sole shareholder of another and interim managing general partner of the general partnership.

He prepared a private placement memorandum for potential investors which contained incorrect information. He also prepared a proxy statement distributed to investors which listed a wireless cable television license worth $1.4 million as an asset, when in fact the partnership had no substantial assets and no ownership interest in any cable television licenses.

Graves stipulated to two counts of committing acts of moral turpitude by failing to perform due diligence and making misrepresentations to investors.

When one of the investors demanded a refund of his $12,500 investment upon learning that the general partnership would not be able to acquire a particular television system, Graves sent him a check for $1,000 and a letter stating the balance would be refunded in monthly payments of $1,000.

He sent another $2,000, but eventually informed the investor the company had decided to suspend all refund payments. The investor sued Graves and others involved in the partnership and filed a complaint with the bar. Graves made a settlement offer, but demanded the investor withdraw his bar complaint as a condition of the settlement. Such a demand violates the Business & Profes-sions Code.

In another case, he filed a bankruptcy petition for a client but failed to file required schedules and a statement of financial affairs. He sought and received a time extension and around the same time advised his client she owed him attorney fees. When she did not pay the fees, Graves did not appear at a hearing and never filed the required documents. The petition was dismissed.

Graves stipulated that he failed to obtain the court's permission to withdraw as counsel, as required by the bankruptcy court.

Graves also was arrested in 1997 for drunk driving and pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and driving under the influence with two priors. He has complied with the terms of his criminal probation.

MICHAEL DALE HARGROVE [#177832], 42, of Grand Terrace was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with a 22-month actual suspension and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation, make restitution, take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Oct. 21, 2001.

In one matter, Hargrove committed acts of moral turpitude by repeatedly writing bad checks against his client trust account.

In another, he filed a personal injury claim arising from a fall at a restaurant the day after the statute of limitations ran. He did not return his client's phone calls, and when the insurer denied liability, he did not inform the client. Instead, he told the client he was negotiating a settlement. Without her consent, he settled the case for $5,000 and filed a request for dismissal of the case with the court.

Hargrove signed the client's name to the check and took a portion as his fee. He was supposed to maintain the entire amount in his client trust account, but its balance fell below the required amount several times, including one date when it stood at nine cents.

The client learned the case was dismissed by going to the court and learned the insurer had closed its file by calling the insurance company.

When the client complained to the State Bar, Hargrove told an investigator she had agreed to dismiss the case and provided a letter which confirmed such an agreement. In fact, the client had not agreed to the dismissal and Hargrove created the letter to misrepresent the truth.

He stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently, keep his client informed of significant developments in her case, promptly notifiy her of receipt of funds or properly maintain client funds in a trust account and he committed acts of moral turpitude.

He represented another client in personal injury and property damage claims arising from an automobile accident. After settling the property damage claim, Hargrove deposited it in his client trust account without the client's endorsement. He did not disburse any funds to the client and allowed the balance in the account to fall below the required amount.

When the client inquired about the settlement, Hargrove said he had mailed a check, when he had not. Hargrove did not return subsequent phone calls and eventually his phone was disconnected. He did not return the client's file upon request.

Either Hargrove or his assistant  later settled the personal injury case and signed the client's name to a release of liability, both without the client's knowledge. He or someone in his office signed the client's name to endorse the $8,500 settlement check. He took a fee without authorization, did not disburse any funds to the client or his medical provider, and allowed the balance in the client trust account to fall below the required amount.

He stipulated that he failed to maintain client funds in a client trust account, release a client's papers upon request or notify a client of the receipt of funds and committed acts of moral turpitude.  

In mitigation, Hargrove had no prior record of discipline, he cooperated with the bar's investigation and he's an alcoholic. He joined The Other Bar, attends regular meetings of Alcoholics Anony-mous and receives counseling.

RHEA S. HIRSCH [#158660], 54, of Bakersfield was suspended for 90 days, stayed, placed on three years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Oct. 21, 2001.

Hirsch borrowed her client's car for two months and when she did not return it, entered into an agreement with the client to buy the car for $4,500. She did not explain to the client the terms of either the "loan" of the car or its purchase, did not put either transaction in writing, did not tell the client to seek independent counsel and did not obtain the client's consent in writing.

One payment check bounced and Hirsch asked the client not to cash a second. The client hired a new lawyer, who asked Hirsch to return the car and account for monies paid and services performed.

After she returned the car, it was learned there were two unpaid parking citations and the car needed repairs. Although Hirsch paid the parking tickets, it took almost two years to pay for the repairs and an additional parking ticket.

Hirsch stipulated that she failed to avoid interests adverse to a client and that she improperly contacted her ex-client when she was represented by new counsel.

In mitigation, she cooperated with the bar's investigation, voluntarily reimbursed the client for damage to the car and for an unpaid traffic fine, and at the time of the misconduct, was a single mother experiencing financial problems.

INTERIM SUSPENSION

DENNIS D. ZIEGLER [#193050], 32, of Beverly Hills was placed on interim suspension Sept. 10, 2001, following a conviction for possession of a controlled substance. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.

STEVEN KRAMER [#159719], 41, of Beverly Hills was placed on interim suspension Sept. 11, 2001, following his conviction for misappropriation. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.

ERNEST SALVADOR ORNELZA [#146011], 49, of Glendale was placed on interim suspension Sept. 11, 2001, following a conviction for conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.

TAMIR OHEB [#161693], 36, of Tarzana was placed on interim suspension Oct. 1, 2001, following a September 2000 conviction for solicitation or referral of workers' compensation claims. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.

ROBERT BEAUDRY [#60541], 56, of Danville was placed on interim suspension Oct. 22, 2001, following a conviction for income tax evasion, aiding and abetting tax evasion, aiding in preparation of false tax returns, all felonies. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.

RESIGNATION/CHARGES PENDING

DAN B. AGYEMAN [#137414], 47, of Beverly Hills (Sept. 6, 2001)

G. DENNIS ADAMS [#37767], 60, of San Diego (Sept. 20, 2001)

STEVEN RAY JONES [#46843], 59, of Balboa Island (Sept. 20, 2001)

DAVID ALLEN BATES [#86879], 48, of South Lake Tahoe (Sept. 22, 2001)

MARK N. PHILLIPS [#138694], 38, of Nashua, N.H. (Sept. 30, 2001)

ELIZABETH PRICE [#85536], 56, of San Rafael (Sept. 30, 2001)

JOHN D. RITTENHOUSE [#102878], 61, of Chula Vista (Sept. 30, 2001)

JAMES L. SIMS [#80672], 61, of San Francisco (Oct. 5, 2001)

WILLIAM P. IMPERIAL [#98400], 48, of Los Angeles (Oct. 10, 2001)  

STEVEN GREGG JOHNSON [#148878], 38, of Hood (Oct. 10, 2001)

FRANCINE DIANE NEEDLES [#95776], 49, of Cerritos (Oct. 10, 2001)