More than 151,750 attorneys are eligible to practice law in California. Many attorneys share the same names.
All discipline reports should be read carefully for names, ages, addresses and bar numbers. Attorneys must report address changes within 30 days.
LEWIS MICHAEL KOSS [#68352], 52, of Calabasas was summarily disbarred, effective May 31, 1996.
In June 1991, Koss was convicted in federal court of three counts of mail fraud and one count of racketeering based on the mail fraud, both felonies involving moral turpitude.
Koss was involved in a fraudulent scheme organized by a network of southern California attorneys.
According to U.S. Court of Appeals documents, the group defrauded insurance companies of millions of dollars in legal fees "through systematic control, manipulation and prolongation of complex civil litigation."
Members of the "Alliance," as the group was called, represented adverse interests, financed litigation opponents, shared litigation and office expenses and paid kickbacks to each other and the clients they represented.
Koss' participation in the Alliance involved his mailing of several substitution of counsel forms in order to prolong litigation, constituting a pattern of mail fraud and amounting to racketeering.
A member of the bar since 1976, Koss did not respond to the State Bar Court's order to show cause why summary disbarment should not be recommended to the Supreme Court.
RICHARD WILLIAM THOMPSON [#121110], 48, of North Hollywood was disbarred June 29, 1996, and ordered to comply with rule 955.
In two consolidated cases, Thompson was charged with 26 counts of misconduct, all involving personal injury matters, but never responded to the allegations. As a result of his default, he was placed on involuntary inactive enrollment last year.
In the first case, Thompson settled a case for about $9,000. Although the client claimed he never received any portion of the settlement money, bank records show he did receive a check for $2,100 from Thompson.
Thompson's office manager told the client that signatures on two reimbursement checks were forged and that the checks were stolen from Thompson's office. The insurance company issued a check for more than $2,500 to replace the stolen checks.
Although the State Bar Court said it could not determine if Thompson's client ever received any settlement funds, it was clear Thompson never paid the medical provider or returned reimbursed funds to the client. The court also found that Thompson failed to perform legal services competently, respond to his client's inquiries or cooperate with the bar's investigation.
In a second case, an insurance company issued four checks totaling $28,000 to settle the claims of a couple and their two children. The clients' signatures were forged on the checks and they received only $8,000.
When their medical bill was not paid, the physician won a judgment against the family for more than $10,000. In addition, a car rental bill never was paid.
The court found that Thompson wilfully misappropriated client funds and his failure to pay the medical bill "was professionally incompetent, disregarding his own promise and his obligation to pay medical costs."
Thompson also did not pay settlement funds in a third personal injury matter, instead misappropriating the money. His clients were not notified of a settlement offer or receipt of any funds, their signatures were forged, and the settlement check was not deposited in a client trust account.
In a fourth case, he did not return his client's phone calls, respond to her status inquiries or perform legal services competently.
The court found no mitigation. Instead, it found that Thompson "could have rectified his misconduct even after the filing of the notices of disciplinary charges by making restitution to his three clients and by paying the medical bills on behalf of his clients. Instead, he closed his client trust account and defaulted in this disciplinary proceeding."
NINA MARIE BARTHOLOMEW [#145655], 37, of Davis was disbarred July 3, 1996, and ordered to comply with rule 955.
Bartholomew failed to comply with an earlier 955 order and she practiced while suspended by the bar.
She originally was suspended in May 1994, four years after her admission to the bar, after filing an appeal in a frivolous lawsuit. She failed to report sanctions of $2,500 and did not cooperate with the bar's investigation.
Three months later, she was suspended for failure to pay bar dues.
Because she did not comply with the probation requirements of the May discipline, her probation was revoked, she was suspended for one year and placed on involuntary inactive status. She also was ordered to comply with rule 955 and notify all courts and clients of her suspension.
During that suspension, she appeared at an in-chambers conference on behalf of a client.
Bartholomew later filed suit against the State Bar, charging that the original discipline against her was based on fraud, and she argued that the bar would be unjustly enriched by payments of the fees and disciplinary costs owed. She did not appear at a hearing in her case, and the State Bar prevailed.
Bartholomew had not complied with rule 955 at the time of her disbarment. "She has not participated in any of the State Bar disciplinary proceedings filed against her," the court wrote, "has failed to comply with rule 955, has practiced law while suspended and while an inactive member, and has otherwise paid little heed to numerous efforts by the organized bar and the bench to conform her conduct to the norms of the profession."
LEE J. HOFFMAN [#127369], 36, of Los Angeles was disbarred July 3, 1996, for failing to comply with rule 955. He was ordered again to comply with the rule by notifying all pertinent parties of his suspension and disbarment. Hoffman has been disciplined four times previously.
In 1989, without his client's authority, he signed the client's name to a document and tried to file it. He was suspended for 30 days and placed on probation.
When he failed to comply with probation conditions, probation was revoked in 1991, he was involuntarily enrolled inactive and ordered to comply with rule 955.
He failed to do so and was actually suspended for four months, ordered to make restitution and placed on 18 months probation. His probation was revoked last year after he failed to file quarterly probation reports and did not notify the bar of a change of address.
ANTHONY I. LOPEZ [#149788], 38, of Murrieta was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on three years of probation with an actual six-month suspension. Because he received credit for an interim suspension which began last September, this suspension began and ended May 28, 1996, and he currently is on active status. He was ordered to take the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Examination within one year.
Lopez pleaded guilty last year to one count of sexual battery, based on four instances of touching his 14-year-old stepdaughter's buttocks over her clothing while he believed her to be asleep. He was placed on three years of probation.
In mitigation, Lopez arranged for therapy for his victim, sought counseling for himself, has shown remorse and complied with all conditions of his criminal probation.
ALLEN DAVID SHUGAR [#38695], 63, of Marina Del Rey was suspended for three years, stayed, and placed on probation for three years on the condition that he actually be suspended for 27 months and until he has shown proof of his rehabilitation and fitness to practice, effective May 31, 1996. He also was ordered to comply with rule 955.
In one instance, Shugar was employed by a client for representation in a medical malpractice matter. He failed to communicate with the client and never filed an action, but later misrepresented to the client that he had done so.
He also failed to respond to a bar investigator's request for information.
In aggravation, Shugar's misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing and four separate client matters. He harmed the administration of justice by practicing law while suspended on two different occasions, one of which involved his representation of a criminal defendant.
In addition, Shugar has a prior record of discipline. In 1991, he received a private reproval for misconduct involving failure to communicate and conflict of interest.
He later was suspended for matters involving two clients and a conviction referral, and again for other violations of the Business & Professions Code.
MIRJANA NICHIPORUK (NIKKI) TOLT [#112714], 41, of Beverly Hills was suspended for one year, stayed, and until she makes restitution. She was placed on three years probation with 60 days actual suspension and ordered to pass the CPRE.
Since Tolt voluntarily has maintained her inactive status from Oct. 1, 1995, through Nov. 30, 1995, the period of actual suspension began Oct. 1.
Tolt's misconduct involved five instances of dealing with failure to supervise employees and client trust fund violations.
Between 1989 and 1991, Tolt maintained a law office in Beverly Hills and two or more satellite offices.
Tolt's satellite offices were intended to operate primarily as intake centers for new clients, with files transferred to her Beverly Hills office for settlement negotiations, litigation, client contact and other legal services.
Two of her employees in northern California diverted new client files away from the Oakland branch to their own office, depositing settlement and medical provider drafts into their own accounts. Tolt was unaware of the two bank accounts set up by the employees, who listed themselves as the sole signatories.
In mitigation, Tolt took immediate legal action to ensure that her employees could no longer harm her clients. She worked with her clients and banks in order to make restitution for the embezzled funds. She also paid one medical service provider before a complaint was filed with the State Bar.
Tolt was admitted to the bar in 1983 and has no prior record of discipline.
JAMES M. KEARNEY III [#151880], 30, of Pomona was suspended for three years, stayed, and placed on probation for three years, with one year actual suspension, effective June 8, 1996. He was ordered to pass the CPRE and comply with rule 955.
Kearney's misconduct involved practicing law while on suspension for failure to meet MCLE requirements, improperly withdrawing from a case, commingling, failure to perform legal services competently and failure to respond to a client's case status inquiries.
Kearney was placed on inactive status on July 25, 1994, after he failed to comply with MCLE requirements.
He later sat as a judge pro tem in the Pomona Municipal Court on three different occasions. During this period of his ineligibility to practice, he also appeared at an arbitration hearing on behalf of a client.
In another matter, Kearney fell behind on the rent for his law office and agreed to represent his landlord in a legal action in exchange for the rent payment. After some initial legal work, he failed to follow through with the case and the client hired another attorney to take over.
During 1994, he also inappropriately used his client trust account, issuing checks to himself for a car payment and office supplies.
In mitigation, Kearney participated in informal discovery and displayed candor during the bar's disciplinary investigation.
Kearney was admitted to the bar in 1990.
GARY OSBORNE KENT [#61707], 48, of Torrance was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective June 8, 1996. He was ordered to pass the CPRE.
Kent was disciplined for practicing law after he was suspended Aug. 10, 1992, for failure to pay bar membership dues.
In aggravation, his misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing. On four occasions during the period of suspension he represented clients before the courts.
In addition, Kent was previously suspended for non-payment of dues three different times from 1981 through 1988.
In mitigation, Kent has had financial difficulties and sought psychological treatment for emotional problems. He displayed candor and cooperated with the bar's investigation.
DERRICK ANTHONY HOO [#59518], 51, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for three years, effective June 9, 1996.
Hoo was disciplined by the bar for failing to maintain sufficient funds in his client trust account.
He was employed by two clients to handle a personal injury matter and deposited their settlement drafts into his client trust fund account. However, the checks he issued to the clients covering their share of the settlement proceeds were not honored by the bank.
The balance of his client trust account fell below the required amount on numerous occasions.
In aggravation, Hoo has a prior record of discipline. In mitigation, he acted in good faith, cooperated with the bar's investigation and cooperated with the victims of his misconduct by replacing the dishonored checks within a reasonable time.
EARL RICHARD STEEN III [#47167], 51, of Pasadena was suspended for seven years, stayed, and placed on probation for seven years on the condition that he actually be suspended for five years and until he makes restitution. He also must provide proof of his rehabilitation and fitness to practice, pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955.
The order took effect June 9, 1996.
Steen's misconduct involved multiple acts of misappropriation of client trust funds, commingling, failure to communicate and failure to perform legal services.
In several instances, Steen deposited settlement drafts into his client trust account and made payments to clients but neglected to pay medical providers.
He also allowed his client trust fund account to fall below the required balance and several times advanced settlement funds to clients before he received them.
In one instance, he borrowed $12,000 from a client, but neglected to advise the client to seek independent counsel regarding the transaction.
In aggravation, his misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing.
In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar's investigation and has been working to make restitution of about $7,000 to all his clients.
During the period of his misconduct, Steen experienced serious emotional and financial difficulties due to problems with his extended family.
These problems included the abandonment of his disabled mother-in-law by most of her family; assuming legal, financial and emotional responsibility for a teen-age niece and nephew; and coping with a sudden death in the family.
In addition, Steen experienced stress in his life resulting from the 1987 adoption of two young "special needs" children.
Because of the cumulative effect of these difficulties, he was unable to devote sufficient attention to his active practice.
He has been working to straighten out his personal affairs, devote attention to his practice and make restitution to former clients.
CESAR E. TREVINO [#153117], 35, of San Diego was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for two years with 90 days actual suspension, effective June 9, 1996. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.
In this decision, the hearing department of the State Bar Court found Trevino culpable of failing to comply with conditions of a Sept. 1, 1994, private reproval and failing to maintain a current address with the bar's membership office.
Considered an aggravating factor was the 1994 private reproval he received for violating Professional Rule of Conduct 3-210, which prohibits an attorney from advising the violation of any law unless the member believes in good faith that the law or ruling is invalid.
He also failed to participate in the formal disciplinary proceedings.
No mitigation was offered since Trevino did not participate in the State Bar Court's proceedings. Trevino was admitted to the bar in 1991.
DONALD ROBERT LEVITT [#101040], 40, of Fresno was suspended for 60 days, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective June 9, 1996. He was ordered to pass the CPRE.
Levitt's misconduct involved four matters and included failure to communicate, failure to promptly return client files and entrusted funds, and advising a client to file a frivolous bankruptcy petition.
In one instance, Levitt was employed by a client for representation in his divorce proceedings. Levitt met with opposing counsel and attempted to negotiate a temporary settlement favorable to his client.
However, Levitt was unsuccessful and, once he was outside the courtroom, advised his client to file immediately for bankruptcy. He also told him to withdraw money from the bank and charge up his Sears credit card in order to stay the civil proceeding and maximize his options for a better settlement.
The client objected to Levitt's advice, but reluctantly filed for bankruptcy immediately and in time for the courtroom proceeding.
The proceeding was stayed, but the client later fired Levitt, hired another attorney and voluntarily dismissed his bankruptcy petition.
In mitigation, Levitt believed that the client wished to "buy time" to seek reconciliation by whatever legal means were available.
Levitt was admitted to the bar in 1981 and has no prior record of discipline.
EILEEN MARY BAKER [#138190], 30, of Huntington Beach was suspended for six months, stayed, placed on 18 months of probation, and was ordered to take the CPRE within one year. The order took effect June 27, 1996.
Baker stipulated to eight counts of writing personal checks on her client trust account. In four of the eight matters, Baker's checks bounced and she did not maintain proper records.
JAMES J. BLISS [#153703], 45, of Poway was suspended for 30 days, stayed, placed on probation for one year, and was ordered to take the CPRE within one year. The order took effect June 27, 1996.
Bliss stipulated that he paid his office expenses from his client trust account, thereby commingling personal and client funds and failing to maintain funds in the account. He wrote nine overdrafts over 11 months.
In mitigation, he has no prior discipline, no clients were harmed and Bliss cooperated with the bar's investigation. He is a credentialed teacher and plans to return to teaching elementary school.
THOMAS SCOTT BYRNES [#70345], 49, of Los Angeles was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years probation with an actual 30-day suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect June 27, 1996.
Byrnes stipulated to numerous acts of wrongdoing stemming from mishandling five separate cases. For the most part, he did not pursue the cases but did not inform his clients. He failed to communicate with clients, pay medical liens, provide files and cooperate with the bar's investigation.
In the first case, he represented a client in a workers' compensation claim. Because his client was receiving medical and disability payments from his employer, Byrnes thought it was not in his client's best interest to file a workers' comp claim at that time.
However, he did not tell his client about his strategy or obtain his consent not to proceed. When his client hired a new attorney, Byrnes did not turn over the file.
In a personal injury matter, Byrnes' client rejected a proposed settlement and ordered him to try to obtain more money. When the defendant went bankrupt, Byrnes determined it was unlikely his client would obtain more money, so he dropped the case without telling the client.
Byrnes dropped another personal injury case after deciding his client was not credible and that he would not be able to meet his burden of proof. However, he did not notify his client or seek her agreement not to proceed.
He paid another client's medical bills late, forcing the man's doctor to hire a collection agency, and he did not pay medical liens for another client at all.
He also misappropriated client funds and did not maintain client funds in trust.
In mitigation, Byrnes went through a painful divorce and suffered severe financial reversals, which led to depression, alcoholism, and physical and emotional problems. He has recovered and is performing pro bono work for indigent persons.
MICHAEL ANTHONY CISNEROS [#105483], 40, of Glendale was suspended for 90 days, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to take the CPRE within one year. The order took effect June 27, 1996.
Although Cisneros usually did not handle personal injury law, he took on the case of a distant relative. An arbitrator issued an award of $5,300, and his client sought a trial.
After submitting two incomplete sets of papers, Cisneros did no further work. However, he did not advise his client that the case had settled or that he had received any settlement funds.
His client's new attorney negotiated with Cisneros a settlement of $25,000, which Cisneros paid. He also paid $1,293 to the medical lienholder.
These agreements were negotiated before any complaint was made to the bar.
In mitigation, Cisneros' wife suffered an ectopic pregnancy and required emergency surgery, his father died, and he experienced other personal difficulties. He fully cooperated with the bar's investigation.
EDWARD LOPEZ [#44558], 62, of Los Angeles was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on probation for two years with an actual 30-day suspension and a requirement that he make restitution, and was ordered to take the CPRE within one year. The order took effect June 27, 1996.
Lopez stipulated to multiple acts of misconduct in six consolidated cases. Many of the charges resulted from his office arrangement, in which he shared space with another attorney whose office manager was handling client matters illegally. When Lopez tried to leave the office, the office manager threatened Lopez' employee with violence and refused to allow him to remove anything from the office.
Lopez eventually extricated himself from the situation, but later learned that his old letterhead was being used in correspondence with insurance companies and his trust account was used to cash settlement checks without his supervision. As a result, his identity and trust account were misused and settlement money was stolen.
Twenty-eight checks written against one account bounced, and seven checks written against another account were returned for insufficient funds.
In two instances, checks payable to his clients were cashed but the clients never received the money. Claims were settled without the consent of clients, and their names were signed on releases without their authorization.
In mitigation, Lopez practiced for 28 years without incident. He took appropriate action once he learned of problems, including helping individuals who thought he was their attorney by repaying them from his own pocket or making claims on their behalf to his insurance carrier.
At the time of the problems, Lopez was dealing with his schizophrenic son, he underwent an angioplasty and was diagnosed with malignant cancer. As a result of the events and his voluntary curtailment of his practice, Lopez suffered serious financial reversals, including losing his home and all his property.
JOHN J. SCHIMMENTI [#37004], 58, of El Segundo was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation, and was ordered to take the CPRE within one year. The order took effect June 27, 1996.
Schimmenti stipulated to two counts of failing to act competently and two counts of failing to communicate with his clients in several inverse condemnation actions.
In the first case, he represented a client who sued the San Diego Port District for inverse condemnation over noise generated by Lindbergh Field. Without consulting his client, Schimmenti agreed to the dismissal of the suit.
He also represented 300 plaintiffs in an inverse condemnation suit against the cities of Los Angeles and Ontario. The majority of plaintiffs settled, but 70 went to trial. Without his clients' consent, Schimmenti executed an agreement with the defendants and proceeded to trial on the issue of damages.
Until the date of the trial, Schimmenti failed to properly communicate the terms and scope of the agreement to his clients and failed to advise them that a successful inverse condemnation action would give an aviation easement to the defendants and would bar personal injury actions.
In aggravation, Schimmenti's misconduct affected numerous homeowners who were not informed of the significant events in the Los Angeles/Ontario lawsuit and were not in agreement with his handling of the case.
In mitigation, he has no prior record of discipline.
WILLIAM MARTIN WITTKE [#68053], 56, of San Diego was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on three years of probation, and was ordered to take the CPRE within one year. The order took effect June 27, 1996.
Wittke did not perform legal services competently in a probate proceeding. Although the court granted his petition and set the probate bond at $300,000, Wittke never filed the bond and performed no other work. However, his client paid unnecessary bond fees over four years, totaling $4,000.
When the client hired another attorney, Wittke did not turn over the file, necessitating the issuance of a court order compelling him to do so. Wittke initially ignored the order, but subsequently delivered a partial file.
His client won a small claims action against him, but Wittke did not make any payments, disobeying court orders.
He failed to perform competently in a personal injury case in which he filed suit after the statute of limitations expired. His clients' claim was subsequently denied by the insurance company since the statute had expired, but the insurer offered to settle claims of the minors involved for $500 each.
Wittke failed to inform his client of the statute's expiration, the denial of the claim or the offer of settlement. He also failed to satisfy outstanding debts and obligations relating to the clients' medical treatment.
He did not keep his client advised of significant developments in the case.
Wittke did not cooperate with the bar's investigation, but in mitigation, he had no discipline since his admission to the bar in 1975.
STEVEN WATTIS BOWMAN [#70235], 52, of Campbell was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, including 90 days actual suspension, effective June 29, 1996.
He was ordered to pass the CPRE, attend the bar's ethics school and comply with rule 955.
Bowman did not pass the CPRE within one year of a public reproval he received May 27, 1994.
In this decision and recommendation of the bar court's hearing department, Bowman was found to have repeatedly ignored disciplinary obligations and failed to participate in disciplinary proceedings.
Although Bowman had a discipline-free record for 15 years prior to the first default proceeding in one matter, it was not accorded mitigating weight in light of his recent discipline and refusal to participate in the disciplinary process.
In aggravation, Bowman has a prior record of discipline. His failure to participate in the misconduct matter was found to have shown a lack of respect for disciplinary proceedings.
"It appears that a period of actual suspension is required to convince [Bowman] of the seriousness of his obligations of professional conduct and to protect the public and the bar," wrote the court.
C. RUSSELL KING [#33488], 74, of Santa Paula was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective June 29, 1996. He was ordered to pass the MPRE.
King was hired to represent a client as executor of an estate in 1991. In 1993, a dispute between King and the client arose over the amount of fees owed to him. King claimed he was owed $8,000, but the client disputed the amount during a hearing set for a final report and distribution of funds.
The hearing was continued for three months, but the client went ahead and paid King the full amount billed to the estate. King collected an illegal fee since there was no order from the court awarding his fees, including extraordinary fees. At the same time, King issued an $81 check to the estate from his general account, commingling entrusted funds.
In aggravation, King's misconduct significantly harmed his clients, the public and the administration of justice when he knowingly violated Probate Code §10800.
In mitigation, King has practiced in California since 1963 with no record of misconduct. He has had no subsequent complaints filed against him.
In addition, other factors considered by the court included King's subjective belief that the court's decision on his fee award of Oct. 9, 1993, was based on incorrect factual findings. King also contended that the record showed four written agreements were made approving the $8,000 in attorney's fees, and he did extensive work in the matter, much of which he believed was caused by misrepresentations of his client and the court's failure to follow the law.
JUSTIN R. DAHLZ [#139783], 60, of South San Francisco was suspended for 12 months, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective July 3, 1996. He was ordered to pass the CPRE or MPRE.
Dahlz' misconduct involved two instances of failure to maintain the required balance in his client trust account.
In both instances the dips in his client trust account were attributed to poor bookkeeping practices by Dahlz and his staff. In one instance, Dahlz released settlement funds to clients before the settlement drafts had cleared the bank.
No funds were misappropriated and no clients were harmed.
In mitigation, Dahlz cooperated with the bar and its investigation. Also, he has been a member of the bar since 1989 and has no prior record of discipline.
JOHN FREDERICK JACKSON [#36411], 63, of Sunnyvale was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation with 30 days actual suspension, effective July 3, 1996.
In 1990, Jackson was employed by a client to handle a personal injury matter. Later that year the client was involved in another accident and employed Jackson again to represent her.
Jackson failed to make two court appearances regarding the first matter, resulting in dismissal of the case. He also failed to inform his client that the case was dismissed.
In addition, he failed to make a court appearance for the second matter and the statute of limitations ran out in 1991. Again, he did not inform his client.
Through April 1994, Jackson told the client that he was working on her cases. In May 1994, he admitted to the client that he allowed both cases to be lost and paid her in excess of $14,000 as payment for the value of the two matters.
In aggravation, Jackson has a prior record of discipline. In 1992, he was disciplined for client trust account violations.
In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar's investigation, made restitution to his client and forfeited his fees in recognition of his wrongdoing.
At the time of his misconduct, Jackson was experiencing severe financial stress and emotional difficulties due to the end of his 33-year marriage.
TERRENCE JOHN STRAIN [#49021], 51, of San Francisco was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual 90-day suspension, and was ordered to take the CPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect July 3, 1996.
Strain was privately reproved in 1994 and was ordered to attend ethics school and pass the CPRE within one year. He attended ethics school after the required date and never took the professional responsibility exam.
Strain never responded to new charges which resulted from his failure to comply with the conditions of his reproval.
FRANK DANIEL CARDINAL [#60749], 46, of Rancho Cucamonga was suspended for 18 months, stayed, and placed on probation for one year, effective July 3, 1996. He was ordered to make restitution and pass the MPRE.
Cardinal's misconduct involved several instances of failure to perform legal services competently, respond to clients' reasonable status inquiries, cooperate with the State Bar's investigation, return unearned fees and pay court-ordered sanctions.
In one matter, Cardinal was hired by a client with limited English-speaking skills for representation in a new trial of a lawsuit which resulted in a default judgment. However, he failed to file a motion for a new trial and to set aside the default judgment entered against his client.
He also failed to respond to the client's numerous telephone and fax inquiries as to the status of his case.
In mitigation, Cardinal misunderstood the client's problem during his first interview and the client did not inform him that a default judgment had been entered against him four months earlier. His misconduct did not harm the client, since the statute of limitations for an appeal expired three months prior to his meeting with the client. The client refused his offer to return the retainer fee.
In addition, during the period of his misconduct, Cardinal suffered emotional difficulties when his mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Cardinal's good character was demonstrated by the numerous pro bono hours he has volunteered on behalf of indigent clients. He also has served as president of local and county bar associations. A member of the bar since 1974, Cardinal has no prior record of discipline.
TODD R. BECKER [#146526], 38, of Newport Beach was placed on interim suspension effective May 24, 1996, following his conviction of violating 18 U.S.C. §1014, making false statements to a lending institution, a felony criminal offense involving moral turpitude. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.
MELODY LYNNE JOLLY [#164480], 33, of Costa Mesa was placed on interim suspension effective May 24, 1996, following her conviction of violating 18 U.S.C. §1010, making a false statement to the federal housing administration, a felony offense. She was ordered to comply with rule 955.
ERIC S. FULLER [#129339], 35, of Rancho Santa Fe was placed on interim suspension effective May 25, 1996, following his conviction of violating 18 U.S.C. §1014, making false statements to a lending institution, a felony offense involving moral turpitude. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.
THEO KAREN NELSON [#40988], 60, of San Francisco was placed on interim suspension effective May 25, 1996, following her conviction of violating 18 U.S.C. §1503, obstruction of justice, and 18 U.S.C. §2(a), aiding and abetting the obstruction of justice, felonies involving moral turpitude. She was ordered to comply with rule 955.
BRENT ALAN SCHLOTTMAN [#68381], 49, of Chandler, Ariz., was placed on interim suspension effective May 29, 1996, following his convictions for violating California Penal Code §487(1), grand theft by embezzlement, and §506, embezzlement by breach of fiduciary trust, crimes involving moral turpitude. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.
AUGUSTINE O. OMO-AGEGE [#162185], 34, of Los Angeles was placed on interim suspension effective May 30, 1996, following his conviction for violating California Penal Code §470, forgery, a felony offense involving moral turpitude. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.
ALEXIS A. AVILA [#136915], 35, of South Pasadena (June 8, 1996)
ALEXANDER ZEV RIBAKOFF [#97193], 42, of Irvine (June 8, 1996)
ALFREDO B. RODRIGUEZ [#94422], 49, of Los Angeles (June 8, 1996)
WILLIAM DENNIS SMITH [#103066], 43, of El Cajon (June 8, 1996)
BONNIE JEAN BARR [#60517], 61, of La Habra (June 8, 1996)
ELINOR ROSE ORLANDELLA [#87233], 59, of Dana Point (June 13, 1996)
ROBERT JAMES HACKNEY [#97599], 46, of Laguna Niguel (June 27, 1996)
VICTOR A. LONG [#154634], 31, of San Mateo (June 27, 1996)
WILLIAM C. PACE [#88037], 53, of Wasilla, Alaska (June 27, 1996)
TIMOTHY JON FLATO [#99667], 42, of Piedmont (July 3, 1996)
SUSPENSION/FAILURE TO PASS CPRE
DAVID M. GARLAND [#26250], 73, of Newport Beach (May 20, 1996)
VERDENE JOHNSON ANDERSON [#118633], 53, of Reno, Nev. (May 29, 1996)
RICHARD EVAN PERITZ [#31420], 61, of El Cerrito (May 30, 1996)
JAMES STEWART MAULE [#52621], 60, of Arcadia (June 9, 1996)
MICHAEL JOHN KOBERLE [#77043], 51, of Woodacre (June 10, 1996)
DONALD JOSEPH ZAITZOW [#99213], 43, of San Diego (April 13, 1996)
JOHN EDWIN WHITING [#24617], 71, of Merced (April 26, 1996)
DOUGLAS EDWARD McCANN [#119928], 37, of Malibu (May 9, 1996)
MICHAEL FRANK BORKOWSKI [#105068], 46, of Sacramento (May 12, 1996)
RICHARD LEITH SHENCOPP [#69394], 54, of Sherman Oaks (May 30, 1996)