Caution!

More than 151,250 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.


Disbarments

MICHAEL FRANCIS DOW [#76268], 49, of Alhambra was disbarred Sept. 26, 1996, and ordered to comply with rule 955 of the California Rules of Court.

Dow was disciplined in July 1995 and was ordered to comply with rule 955. He failed to file an affidavit stating that he had notified all pertinent parties of his suspension.

That failure led to the disbarment.

His original misconduct involved two different matters in which he failed to perform services competently, promptly respond to clients' inquiries, release case files to clients, refund advanced unearned fees and provide an accounting of fees when requested.

He was hired by a client in 1990 to represent his brother, who was jailed for murder in 1981. Dow received an advance fee to review the file and trial transcripts to determine if there were grounds for appeal.

Several other relatives contributed to the legal fees after Dow expressed an interest in the case. But he never visited the jailed inmate or kept in touch with the family, despite their repeated efforts to contact him.

When the family hired another attorney, Dow did not forward the case files.

In another matter, he failed to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expired.

MARVIN GEORGE CLAITMAN [#50288], 49, of Encino was disbarred Sept. 29, 1996, and ordered to comply with rule 955.

Claitman was disciplined in 1995 for misappropriating client funds, failing to return unearned fees and misrepresenting the status of a case to a client. He had been sanctioned for delaying tactics in one case and had engaged in harassing litigation in another, and he also failed to provide competent legal services.

Claitman was placed on five years of probation with a requirement that he make restitution and prove his rehabilitation, and he was placed on actual suspension for two years. He also was ordered to comply with rule 955. It was his failure to do so that led to the disbarment.

VICTOR LEMATT BROWN [#59182], 49, of Los Angeles was disbarred Sept. 29, 1996, and ordered to comply with rule 955.

In 1992, Brown failed to perform legal services competently when he did not oppose a demurrer in a quiet title action. Although he advised his client he could not continue with the case because he felt there was no viable cause of action, he did not withdraw from representation or take steps to avoid prejudice to his client, who hired another attorney to pursue the matter.

In another matter, Brown became partners with a businessman who solicited clients, handled personal injury cases, paid Brown $2,000 a month plus a percentage of fees earned and ran the office's business affairs. Although Brown called the man an employee, documents on file with Los Angeles County indicated the two were business partners.

The businessman, Jim Roy Bahk, hired and paid the office staff, opened bank accounts, including the client trust account, with both himself and Brown as signatories, and used a rubber stamp with Brown's signature to deposit bank funds and sign documents. The phone service was under Bahk's name. He paid a capper between $800 and $1,000 for each case brought to the office.

In one personal injury case, a medical payment draft was sent to Brown's firm and endorsed with the client's name and Brown's stamp. Brown never saw the draft and the client never was told about it or received any money. Bahk later settled the same case without the client's knowledge or consent; again his signature on a settlement check was forged.

The client fired Brown, who repaid the settlement funds. The client later sued Brown, Bahk and others for malpractice and received a judgment of $12,500. Brown never determined what happened to the medical payment funds.

Bahk also kept the client trust account records, which Brown seldom reviewed. During the time in question, the balance repeatedly fell below the required amount.

The State Bar Court also found that Brown violated a probation imposed in 1993. He did not submit proof of restitution, take required continuing education courses and filed late or incomplete probation reports.

In mitigation, he was remorseful about his misconduct, returned the missing settlement funds, repaid part of another judgment and is trying to make restitution to another client.

However, he has a record of prior discipline, beginning with a private reproval in 1985. In that matter, Brown failed to perform competently in two client matters, improperly withdrew from representation and did not return client documents or communicate with his client.

He was disciplined again in 1993 for misconduct that occurred over the previous nine years. It included improper withdrawal from a case, improper trust accounting, failure to adequately supervise office staff, forming a partnership with a nonlawyer and aiding the unauthorized practice of law.

KENNETH LAWRENCE CARR [#69582], 51, of Los Angeles was disbarred Oct. 11, 1996, and ordered to comply with rule 955.

Carr's disbarment order was the result of his misconduct involving several instances of wrongdoing, including falsely advertising that he was entitled to practice law, accepting legal fees and hanging up on and threatening a client who requested an accounting of legal fees.

Carr has been on continuous suspension since 1987, for various disciplinary matters and failure to pay bar membership dues.

In this latest incident of misconduct, Carr was hired by a client who saw his advertisement for legal services. He asked Carr to represent him in a child custody matter and to have a restriction removed from his driver's license.

Neither Carr nor his associates completed the legal services for the client. When the client telephoned the law office and demanded an accounting of the $255 fee, Carr became angry, hung up on him and did not talk to the client again.

Aggravating circumstances include Carr's prior record of six disciplinary matters. Carr has an "extensive" history of drug and alcohol abuse, with several criminal convictions on his record which led to professional discipline on three occasions. He then violated probation conditions, resulting in three additional disciplinary cases.

His current misconduct deprived his client of proper legal representation, he demonstrated indifference toward rectification of the consequences of his actions and he failed to cooperate with the bar's investigation.


Suspensions/Probation

BASIL E. CLARK [#129154], 38, of Beverly Hills was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for two years with seven months actual suspension, effective Sept. 21, 1996. He was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955.

Clark's misconduct involved 12 clients and included numerous instances of failing to supervise his office staff, promptly disburse client funds and communicate with clients.

In one matter, Clark was employed by a client in October 1991 to handle a personal injury matter. The client never received a copy of the retainer agreement, even though a copy was requested.

Although Clark received authorization to settle the client's case, there was a misunderstanding regarding the funds.

After the settlement check was deposited into Clark's client trust account, a release document was executed and signed without the client's knowledge or authority.

The client received a check for what he believed was a partial payment of his claim. Clark was unaware that his office staff led the client to believe he would receive a larger sum.

In addition, because of the negligent supervision of his staff, Clark did not pay a medical lien from his client's case until April 1993.

Clark eventually issued a $1,000 check to the client from his personal account, to satisfy the client's expectations of a higher recovery. Clark failed to provide the client with an accounting of the disbursed funds, which the client requested.

In aggravation, Clark's misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing and demonstrated a pattern of misconduct from December 1990 to February 1994.

In mitigation, Clark was emotionally stressed during the period of his misconduct due to the bitter disintegration of his four-year marriage. His ex-wife's conduct at this time, making false police reports of spousal abuse and filing several temporary dismissals of the divorce proceedings, caused him financial difficulties and distracted him from his law practice.

During this time, his employees attempted to keep the business running and among other things, signed his name to documents. His client trust problems resulted from his inattentiveness to his practice.

At one point, Clark had three separate law offices, in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, but closed two of them when he realized he was overextended.

Since his divorce was finalized, Clark personally supervises all aspects of his office operation and now operates primarily a transactional practice.

NEILL EDWARD HANNON [#59463], 50, of San Francisco was suspended for 18 months on Sept. 21, 1996. The suspension was stayed, and he was placed on probation for one year. He was ordered to pass the CPRE.

In July 1994, Hannon was convicted of impersonating a police officer. He was sentenced to two years of formal probation and fined $1,000. He also was ordered to serve 45 days in county jail, but the order was stayed on the condition he serve six days on weekends in jail and perform 75 hours of volunteer work.

His conviction stemmed from his involvement in an October 1992 traffic accident in downtown San Jose during the noon hour. Hannon determined the driver of the other car was not injured and there was no property damage, so he attempted to leave the scene.

The driver of the other car insisted that he remain at the scene, but Hannon told her he was police officer, showed her a searchlight and left.

In the bar's disciplinary hearing, it was stipulated that Hannon's conduct was not premeditated but constituted moral turpitude, as defined by the business and professions code. Hannon had hoped to discourage the other driver from making a commotion about something he thought was a minor incident.

Considered by the bar to be an aggravating condition was Hannon's prior record of discipline. In September 1993, Hannon was publicly reproved for claiming false legal expenses and paying a percentage of his fees to his secretary.

However, Hannon's prior record of discipline was not accorded the same weight it might otherwise because his current misconduct occurred before the filing of a formal proceeding in the reproval.

In mitigation, Hannon has made a substantial effort to adjust his personal and professional conduct in order to comply with his civic and professional responsibilities.

Since 1992, he has served as a volunteer arbitrator for the U.S District Court in northern California and he assists in the resolution of federal disputes through alternatives to litigation.

He also spent two years offering monthly legal services at the San Mateo public library, through the county bar association. Since 1993, he has provided free mediation services to small claims litigants in San Mateo County and he currently volunteers two nights a week as a pro bono judge for San Francisco Youth Courts Inc.

The probation of RICHARD EVAN PERITZ [#31420], 61, of El Cerrito was revoked and the previously ordered stay of suspension lifted, effective Sept. 21, 1996. Peritz was actually suspended for two years, with credit given for the period of his inactive enrollment, which began May 1. He also was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955.

Peritz' probation was revoked after he failed to file quarterly probation reports and proof of a client trust account audit, conditions of an April 1995 discipline order.

At that time, Peritz stipulated to numerous acts of misconduct involving three consolidated cases and including failure to communicate with clients, keep them informed of the status of their case, sign a substitution of attorney form and turn over their files to new counsel, improper case withdrawal and commingling personal and client funds. He also did not cooperate with the bar's investigation.

Peritz, a member of the bar since 1961, also was privately reproved in 1991.

THOMAS VICTOR ORVIS [#54259], 51, of Palo Alto was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for one year, effective Sept. 29, 1996, on the condition that he actually be suspended for 30 days. He was ordered to pass the MPRE.

In 1994, Orvis was convicted in federal court of aiding and abetting in contempt of court (Title 18 U.S.C., §2/401(3)). Following his conviction, the State Bar Court found Orvis culpable of conduct warranting discipline.

Orvis' misconduct surrounded his actions while representing a client who was the target of a fraudulent loan lawsuit following the collapse of a savings and loan.

The Resolution Trust Corporation, conservator of the failed banking institution, was successful in obtaining an order to freeze the assets of Orvis' client while the federal case was pending.

However, after the order was issued, Orvis aided the client in the sale of a house she owned and misled federal authorities as to the status of the property.

In mitigation, Orvis said he erroneously believed the freeze order was not applicable to the sale of the property, because it had no equity.

He also believed that if the sale of the property had not gone through, his client would have been placed in a difficult financial situation.

Orvis was admitted to the practice of law in 1972 and has no prior record of discipline.

GREGG ALAN STANFORD [#109433], 41, of Orangevale was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for two years with six months actual suspension, effective Sept. 29, 1996. He also was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955.

Stanford's misconduct involved commingling and issuing bad checks. For several months in 1993, Stanford wrote 23 checks on his client trust account for more than $4,000 in personal expenses. In addition, five checks were returned by the bank for insufficient funds.

In aggravation, his misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing and he failed to participate in the disciplinary proceedings.

Stanford's lack of a discipline record in his nine years of practice before the misconduct began in 1993 was considered a mitigating factor.

JOHN M. BLACKBURN [#87393], 59, of Golden, Colo., was suspended for five years, stayed, and placed on probation for five years with 18 months actual suspension, effective Sept. 29, 1996. He was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955.

Blackburn stipulated to three separate acts of dishonesty and two acts of violating the California Rules of Professional Conduct.

In one matter, to protect himself from a pending lawsuit involving a photo business, Blackburn secured a fraudulent loan and deed to the title of his home. He also gave false information on his bankruptcy petition regarding the fictitious loan. During this period, Blackburn and his wife were in the process of divorcing.

In addition, the bankruptcy proceedings resulted in a $160,000 judgment against Blackburn, to be paid to a photo company. The same day Blackburn and the photo company executed a release, Blackburn quitclaimed his one-half undivided interest in his home to the photo business.

A few months later, a reconveyance of the fictitious deed of trust, in favor of Blackburn and his wife, was executed and recorded. Two days later he quitclaimed his interest in the home to his wife, without notifying the photo business.

Blackburn was sued by the photo company and a judgment was entered declaring the quitclaim deed fraudulent.

In aggravation, Blackburn's misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing and harmed the administration of justice by necessitating litigation to set aside a fraudulent conveyance.

In mitigation, Blackburn was admitted to the bar in 1979 and has no prior record of discipline. Except for one of the violations, the misconduct occurred about 10 years ago.

In a discipline matter involving a child custody case, his abrupt withdrawal from the case did not harm his client.

The probation of W. MERRILL DAVIDSON [#39576], 58, of Los Angeles was revoked and the stay of suspension lifted, effective Oct. 6, 1996. Davidson was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for one year.

Davidson's misconduct involved his failure to timely file quarterly probation reports, a requirement of a 1994 disciplinary order. At that time, Davidson received a 60-day actual suspension for commingling funds.

The 1994 disciplinary order was considered an aggravating factor.

In mitigation, Davidson has practiced law in California for 26 years with no prior record of discipline until 1994. He has been diligent in representing clients in criminal matters in the past 31 years and has never been culpable of negligence or legal malpractice.

Davidson made a good faith effort to comply with his probation conditions. Although he filed his probation reports late, he completed other conditions.

Davidson was out of the state when one report was due and misunderstood correspondence from bar officials regarding the matter.

In addition, Davidson was distracted from his disciplinary obligations due to the fact that he has custody of his five children and runs a home office with no support staff.

His participation in bar proceedings, passage of the CPRE and candid demeanor were also viewed as mitigating factors.

Davidson expressed remorse and several members of the legal community, including a superior court judge, attested to his honesty, integrity and good reputation.

PAUL DAVID FILLMAN [#89268], 51, of Long Beach was suspended for three years, stayed, and placed on probation for three years on the condition that he is actually suspended for two years and until he has made restitution and provides proof of his rehabilitation. He was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Oct. 9, 1996.

In this decision, Fillman was found culpable of several client trust account violations and failure to promptly pay out client funds and medical liens, cooperate with the bar's investigation and maintain a current address with the bar's membership department.

In one instance, he wrote three checks on his client trust account to pay the rent on his law office. All three checks were returned for insufficient funds.

Considered aggravating circumstances were Fillman's indifference toward rectification of the consequences of his misconduct, refusal to account for his mishandling of settlement proceeds and failure to participate in the disciplinary hearings prior to default.

In mitigation, Fillman has been a member of the bar since 1979, with no prior record of discipline.

RICHARD D. GIVENS [#37472], 57, of Redwood City was suspended for 90 days, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective Oct. 11, 1996. He was ordered to pass the MPRE.

Givens was convicted of drunk driving in February 1995, after he was arrested in Trinity County with a blood alcohol level of .19 percent.

In aggravation, Givens was convicted of two prior drunk driving violations in 1988 and 1993. His 1993 criminal probation conditions included attendance in an alcohol abuse program, which he completed in February 1995.

In mitigation, Givens was admitted to the bar in 1966, and he has no prior record of discipline. He was cooperative with the bar's investigation and has taken steps to address his alcohol problem.

He has abstained from alcohol since the 1995 incident and has participated in meetings of "The Other Bar," an alcohol abuse program for members of the legal community.

Also in mitigation, Givens has been active in numerous legal organizations and headed the Law Day program in San Mateo County. He has served as a judge or hearing officer of the San Francisco Retirement Board and has been a pro bono arbitrator the past 10 years.

He is currently chairman of a non-profit association and provides pro bono legal services to the group. Six attorneys provided letters attesting to his good character and involvement in the community.

BRETT L. FRANCISCO [#141745], 47, of Santa Clarita was suspended for six months, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective Oct. 11, 1996. He was ordered to pass the MPRE.

In this decision, Francisco was found culpable of failing to pay court-ordered sanctions of $700 and $1,500. He also did not timely report the $1,500 sanction to the State Bar.

No aggravating circumstances were established, but numerous mitigating factors were presented.

Francisco's personal problems during this period were accorded moderate weight in mitigation, since they impacted his ability to pay the court-ordered sanctions.

At the time, Francisco and his wife were separated and he sought treatment for depression and back problems which left numbness and pain in his arm. He also had a significant drop in income and was forced to borrow money to support his children.

Since then, both his medical condition and marriage situation have improved.

The bar found that although Francisco believed in good faith that he did not have to report the $1,500 sanction, he should have investigated the matter more thoroughly.

SCOTT NORDBY HANSEN [#61414], 47, of Sonoma was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for two years with 90 days actual suspension, effective Oct. 11, 1996. He also was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955.

This default decision involved two client matters and Hansen's reckless failure to perform legal services, promptly respond to a client's reasonable case status inquiries, communicate with a client, cooperate with the bar's investigation and improper withdrawal from a case.

In one instance, Hansen was hired by a woman to represent her in a third party personal injury matter. After some initial work on the case, Hansen failed to follow through and the client's case was dismissed. He did not respond to the client's telephone calls and letters nor to correspondence sent by State Bar investigators.

The bar court hearing department found that the client was harmed by the dismissal of her cause of action, an aggravating circumstance. Hansen's failure to participate in the bar's hearings was deemed to show a lack of respect for the disciplinary proceedings.

In mitigation, Hansen practiced law for 17 years with a discipline-free record prior to his misconduct.

The probation of GERALD WATARU TAKAHASHI [#54666], 52, of Los Angeles was revoked and his previously ordered stay of suspension lifted, effective Oct. 17, 1996. Takahashi was actually suspended for one year with credit given for the period of inactive enrollment which began July 6. He also was ordered to comply with rule 955.

Takahashi did not timely comply with conditions of probation from a November 1994 disciplinary order. He did not file his probation reports or a statement from his mental health provider during the required period.

The 1994 disciplinary order was the result of his failure to file an affidavit in compliance with rule 955, a condition of a previous discipline matter.

In aggravation, Takahashi has a prior record of discipline stemming back to 1977, when he received a private reproval for misconduct in two client matters. He was publicly reproved in March 1984, and in July 1993, he received a six-month actual suspension with probation and was ordered to make restitution. The 1993 order involved his misconduct in six client matters.

The hearing department of the State Bar Court gave some mitigating weight to Takahashi's compliance, albeit late, of probation reporting requirements.

MARVIN M. MITCHELSON [#27801], 68, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for three years with a one-year actual suspension, effective Oct. 17, 1996. He also was ordered to make restitution in the amount of nearly $185,000 to 10 clients.

Mitchelson, a well-known "palimony" attorney, was disciplined by the State Bar for misconduct in 11 client matters, many of which involved divorce cases and his failure to return unearned fees.

A number of his clients fired Mitchelson after they learned he was convicted of federal income tax evasion in 1993.

In one instance, Mitchelson was hired by a client to represent her in a divorce matter and to appeal a decision concerning an ante-nuptial agreement.

The client gave Mitchelson $30,000 in advanced fees. Nearly a year later, the client learned of Mitchelson's conviction for tax evasion and terminated his services. When she asked for an accounting of the money she gave him, Mitchelson failed to provide it.

In another matter, a woman hired Mitchelson and advanced him $15,000 to handle her divorce. After rescheduling a court appearance twice, Mitchelson failed to show up, the client's case was dismissed and she also was ordered to surrender community funds in her possession to her ex-husband's attorney.

In another instance, Mitchelson was hired by an Arizona physician to represent him in a paternity suit and advanced him $25,000 in attorney's fees. A few months later, when he learned of Mitchelson's tax evasion conviction, he sent a letter terminating his services and requesting an accounting of his legal services. Mitchelson failed to return the funds or provide an accounting of the fees.

In aggravation, Mitchelson's misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing, he significantly harmed clients and he has a prior record of discipline.

In February 1993, he received a 60-day stayed suspension and three years probation. In March 1994, he was suspended when he failed to pass the CPRE, a requirement of the 1993 discipline order.

In August 1994, his 1993 probation was revoked for failure to file quarterly probation reports, report a change of address to the bar's membership department and complete a law office management course. He was placed on 60 days actual suspension.

In mitigation, Mitchelson suffered extreme physical disabilities at the time of his misconduct. He was periodically hospitalized for a heart condition, bleeding ulcers, anemia and cervical disk disease. He is currently under treatment for these conditions.

He took objective steps to acknowledge his wrongdoing. Although he filed a personal bankruptcy action in February 1993, he did not attempt to discharge any debt owed to a client or former client.

RICHARD LEONARD IVEY [#129327], 41, of El Centro was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for two years on the condition that he actually be suspended for 30 days and until he makes restitution, effective Oct. 17, 1996. He also was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955.

In this default decision, Ivey was hired by a client to represent him as a defendant in a personal injury matter. Ivey did not perform any legal services on behalf of the client other than to file a form answer to the plaintiff's complaint and make a late appearance at a status conference.

He also did not communicate with the client or return unearned legal fees or the case file to the client. In addition, he failed to cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In aggravation, Ivey engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing and his conduct significantly harmed his client.

Ivey's lack of a prior record of discipline was given little weight in mitigation since he had practiced less than seven years before the misconduct.

WILLIAM P. IMPERIAL [#98400], 43, of Los Angeles was suspended for three months, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective Oct. 17, 1996. He was ordered to pass the MPRE.

In several client matters Imperial's misconduct included client trust account violations, failure to perform legal services, respond to a client's reasonable case status inquiries and cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In one instance, Imperial was hired by a client in October 1989 to represent him as a plaintiff in a personal injury matter. In March 1990, Imperial filed a complaint on behalf of his client and served the defendants a few months later. In May 1994, the court granted a motion of the defendant, the California Department of Transportation, to dismiss for failure to prosecute. The court also granted the defendant's motion to sanction Imperial.

No factors were presented in aggravation.

In mitigation, Imperial is active in Chicano community organizations, including the Mexican-American Bar Association. In his practice he has performed an extensive amount of pro bono legal services as well as services for substantially reduced rates.

He has no prior record of discipline in 15 years of practice.

JEROME EDELMAN [#41749], 57, of Orange was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective Oct. 17, 1996. He was ordered to pass the MPRE.

Edelman was hired by a client to represent her in a bankruptcy matter in 1987. In 1989, Edelman was discharged by the bankruptcy court after determining that he failed to show the necessary competence or experience to comply with a previous disgorgement order.

In 1991, the client requested Edelman to resume work on her case. Edelman received advanced attorney's fees of $10,000 from the client's sister, without receiving approval from the bankruptcy court, considered an act of moral turpitude.

In 1992, the client's sister requested that Edelman return the $10,000 fee, but he failed to respond or promptly refund the money.

In 1994, the bankruptcy court issued an order to disgorge the unauthorized $10,000, but Edelman failed to comply with the order or establish that advanced fees were allowed.

It was stipulated that Edelman subjectively believed he was in compliance with the bankruptcy code. He began paying restitution prior to the bar's involvement and performed 200 hours of community service.

In aggravation, Edelman's misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing and significantly harmed his clients.

In mitigation, Edelman has been a member of the State Bar since 1968 with no prior record of misconduct.

Edelman did attorney work in the bankruptcy matter and has disgorged all fees received.

JOHN A. DAVIS [#49368], 56, of San Ramon was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective Oct. 17, 1996. He was ordered to pass the MPRE.

In one matter, Davis was hired by a client to represent her husband in his attempt to seek a reduction of his prison sentence. Davis failed to perform legal services or return his unearned fees. The client later won a fee arbitration award, but Davis failed to make the payments. He also failed to respond to the client's case status inquiries or return case files.

In aggravation, Davis' misconduct significantly harmed clients. One client was deprived of her money, another lost his cause of action and another did not have her file returned promptly.

Davis also did not cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In mitigation, Davis has been a member of the bar since 1971, with no prior record of discipline.


Interim Suspension

VICTORIA ANN KING [#74024], 51, of Tucson, Ariz., was placed on interim suspension, effective Oct. 4, 1996, following her conviction of violating Arizona Revised Statutes 13-2310, fraudulent scheme and artifice, and 13-1801 (A) (2), theft by conversion, crimes involving moral turpitude. She was ordered to comply with rule 955.


Resignation/Charges Pending

FRANK RICHARD CHASE [#101615], 41, of San Francisco (Sept. 26, 1996)

EDWARD S. COLEMAN [#24629], 67, of Las Vegas (Sept. 29, 1996)

GEORGE T. KASTANIS [#147600], 33, of Sacramento (Sept. 29, 1996)

BILLIE J. CEGLIA-ANDERSON [#123810], 57, of San Jose (Oct. 4, 1996)

MURRAY DONALD KATZ [#24333], 69, of San Francisco (Oct. 6, 1996)

EDISON PENROW McDANIELS [#33239], 73, of San Bernardino (Oct. 10, 1996)

JAMES P. KRAUS [#125910], 39, of Marysville (Oct. 17, 1996)


Suspension/Failure to Pass PRE

BEATRICE R. PAYTON LAWSON [#53957], 59, of Los Angeles (Sept. 18, 1996)

JOSEPH POOLE VANDENBERG [#29072], 65, of Sacramento (Oct. 2, 1996)

MELVIN LEONARD SCHECTER [#75003], 47, of Los Angeles (Oct. 2, 1996)

SUZANNE LOUISE HARRIS [#45303], 51, of Johnstown, Colo. (Oct. 9, 1996)

ALVIN E. HENDRICSON [#24015], 74, of San Francisco (Oct. 17, 1996)

J. TERENCE LYONS [#51036], 50, of Los Angeles (Oct. 17, 1996)

ALAN MELVYN SMOTKIN [#40604], 53, of Beverly Hills (Oct. 17, 1996)


Reinstatement

MERLIN L. REED JR. [#81193], 49, of Simi Valley (Aug. 27, 1996)

[MAIN MENU][CALBAR JOURNAL]

California Bar Journal - December, 1996

Caution!

More than 151,250 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.


Disbarments

MICHAEL FRANCIS DOW [#76268], 49, of Alhambra was disbarred Sept. 26, 1996, and ordered to comply with rule 955 of the California Rules of Court.

Dow was disciplined in July 1995 and was ordered to comply with rule 955. He failed to file an affidavit stating that he had notified all pertinent parties of his suspension.

That failure led to the disbarment.

His original misconduct involved two different matters in which he failed to perform services competently, promptly respond to clients' inquiries, release case files to clients, refund advanced unearned fees and provide an accounting of fees when requested.

He was hired by a client in 1990 to represent his brother, who was jailed for murder in 1981. Dow received an advance fee to review the file and trial transcripts to determine if there were grounds for appeal.

Several other relatives contributed to the legal fees after Dow expressed an interest in the case. But he never visited the jailed inmate or kept in touch with the family, despite their repeated efforts to contact him.

When the family hired another attorney, Dow did not forward the case files.

In another matter, he failed to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expired.

MARVIN GEORGE CLAITMAN [#50288], 49, of Encino was disbarred Sept. 29, 1996, and ordered to comply with rule 955.

Claitman was disciplined in 1995 for misappropriating client funds, failing to return unearned fees and misrepresenting the status of a case to a client. He had been sanctioned for delaying tactics in one case and had engaged in harassing litigation in another, and he also failed to provide competent legal services.

Claitman was placed on five years of probation with a requirement that he make restitution and prove his rehabilitation, and he was placed on actual suspension for two years. He also was ordered to comply with rule 955. It was his failure to do so that led to the disbarment.

VICTOR LEMATT BROWN [#59182], 49, of Los Angeles was disbarred Sept. 29, 1996, and ordered to comply with rule 955.

In 1992, Brown failed to perform legal services competently when he did not oppose a demurrer in a quiet title action. Although he advised his client he could not continue with the case because he felt there was no viable cause of action, he did not withdraw from representation or take steps to avoid prejudice to his client, who hired another attorney to pursue the matter.

In another matter, Brown became partners with a businessman who solicited clients, handled personal injury cases, paid Brown $2,000 a month plus a percentage of fees earned and ran the office's business affairs. Although Brown called the man an employee, documents on file with Los Angeles County indicated the two were business partners.

The businessman, Jim Roy Bahk, hired and paid the office staff, opened bank accounts, including the client trust account, with both himself and Brown as signatories, and used a rubber stamp with Brown's signature to deposit bank funds and sign documents. The phone service was under Bahk's name. He paid a capper between $800 and $1,000 for each case brought to the office.

In one personal injury case, a medical payment draft was sent to Brown's firm and endorsed with the client's name and Brown's stamp. Brown never saw the draft and the client never was told about it or received any money. Bahk later settled the same case without the client's knowledge or consent; again his signature on a settlement check was forged.

The client fired Brown, who repaid the settlement funds. The client later sued Brown, Bahk and others for malpractice and received a judgment of $12,500. Brown never determined what happened to the medical payment funds.

Bahk also kept the client trust account records, which Brown seldom reviewed. During the time in question, the balance repeatedly fell below the required amount.

The State Bar Court also found that Brown violated a probation imposed in 1993. He did not submit proof of restitution, take required continuing education courses and filed late or incomplete probation reports.

In mitigation, he was remorseful about his misconduct, returned the missing settlement funds, repaid part of another judgment and is trying to make restitution to another client.

However, he has a record of prior discipline, beginning with a private reproval in 1985. In that matter, Brown failed to perform competently in two client matters, improperly withdrew from representation and did not return client documents or communicate with his client.

He was disciplined again in 1993 for misconduct that occurred over the previous nine years. It included improper withdrawal from a case, improper trust accounting, failure to adequately supervise office staff, forming a partnership with a nonlawyer and aiding the unauthorized practice of law.

KENNETH LAWRENCE CARR [#69582], 51, of Los Angeles was disbarred Oct. 11, 1996, and ordered to comply with rule 955.

Carr's disbarment order was the result of his misconduct involving several instances of wrongdoing, including falsely advertising that he was entitled to practice law, accepting legal fees and hanging up on and threatening a client who requested an accounting of legal fees.

Carr has been on continuous suspension since 1987, for various disciplinary matters and failure to pay bar membership dues.

In this latest incident of misconduct, Carr was hired by a client who saw his advertisement for legal services. He asked Carr to represent him in a child custody matter and to have a restriction removed from his driver's license.

Neither Carr nor his associates completed the legal services for the client. When the client telephoned the law office and demanded an accounting of the $255 fee, Carr became angry, hung up on him and did not talk to the client again.

Aggravating circumstances include Carr's prior record of six disciplinary matters. Carr has an "extensive" history of drug and alcohol abuse, with several criminal convictions on his record which led to professional discipline on three occasions. He then violated probation conditions, resulting in three additional disciplinary cases.

His current misconduct deprived his client of proper legal representation, he demonstrated indifference toward rectification of the consequences of his actions and he failed to cooperate with the bar's investigation.


Suspensions/Probation

BASIL E. CLARK [#129154], 38, of Beverly Hills was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for two years with seven months actual suspension, effective Sept. 21, 1996. He was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955.

Clark's misconduct involved 12 clients and included numerous instances of failing to supervise his office staff, promptly disburse client funds and communicate with clients.

In one matter, Clark was employed by a client in October 1991 to handle a personal injury matter. The client never received a copy of the retainer agreement, even though a copy was requested.

Although Clark received authorization to settle the client's case, there was a misunderstanding regarding the funds.

After the settlement check was deposited into Clark's client trust account, a release document was executed and signed without the client's knowledge or authority.

The client received a check for what he believed was a partial payment of his claim. Clark was unaware that his office staff led the client to believe he would receive a larger sum.

In addition, because of the negligent supervision of his staff, Clark did not pay a medical lien from his client's case until April 1993.

Clark eventually issued a $1,000 check to the client from his personal account, to satisfy the client's expectations of a higher recovery. Clark failed to provide the client with an accounting of the disbursed funds, which the client requested.

In aggravation, Clark's misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing and demonstrated a pattern of misconduct from December 1990 to February 1994.

In mitigation, Clark was emotionally stressed during the period of his misconduct due to the bitter disintegration of his four-year marriage. His ex-wife's conduct at this time, making false police reports of spousal abuse and filing several temporary dismissals of the divorce proceedings, caused him financial difficulties and distracted him from his law practice.

During this time, his employees attempted to keep the business running and among other things, signed his name to documents. His client trust problems resulted from his inattentiveness to his practice.

At one point, Clark had three separate law offices, in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, but closed two of them when he realized he was overextended.

Since his divorce was finalized, Clark personally supervises all aspects of his office operation and now operates primarily a transactional practice.

NEILL EDWARD HANNON [#59463], 50, of San Francisco was suspended for 18 months on Sept. 21, 1996. The suspension was stayed, and he was placed on probation for one year. He was ordered to pass the CPRE.

In July 1994, Hannon was convicted of impersonating a police officer. He was sentenced to two years of formal probation and fined $1,000. He also was ordered to serve 45 days in county jail, but the order was stayed on the condition he serve six days on weekends in jail and perform 75 hours of volunteer work.

His conviction stemmed from his involvement in an October 1992 traffic accident in downtown San Jose during the noon hour. Hannon determined the driver of the other car was not injured and there was no property damage, so he attempted to leave the scene.

The driver of the other car insisted that he remain at the scene, but Hannon told her he was police officer, showed her a searchlight and left.

In the bar's disciplinary hearing, it was stipulated that Hannon's conduct was not premeditated but constituted moral turpitude, as defined by the business and professions code. Hannon had hoped to discourage the other driver from making a commotion about something he thought was a minor incident.

Considered by the bar to be an aggravating condition was Hannon's prior record of discipline. In September 1993, Hannon was publicly reproved for claiming false legal expenses and paying a percentage of his fees to his secretary.

However, Hannon's prior record of discipline was not accorded the same weight it might otherwise because his current misconduct occurred before the filing of a formal proceeding in the reproval.

In mitigation, Hannon has made a substantial effort to adjust his personal and professional conduct in order to comply with his civic and professional responsibilities.

Since 1992, he has served as a volunteer arbitrator for the U.S District Court in northern California and he assists in the resolution of federal disputes through alternatives to litigation.

He also spent two years offering monthly legal services at the San Mateo public library, through the county bar association. Since 1993, he has provided free mediation services to small claims litigants in San Mateo County and he currently volunteers two nights a week as a pro bono judge for San Francisco Youth Courts Inc.

The probation of RICHARD EVAN PERITZ [#31420], 61, of El Cerrito was revoked and the previously ordered stay of suspension lifted, effective Sept. 21, 1996. Peritz was actually suspended for two years, with credit given for the period of his inactive enrollment, which began May 1. He also was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955.

Peritz' probation was revoked after he failed to file quarterly probation reports and proof of a client trust account audit, conditions of an April 1995 discipline order.

At that time, Peritz stipulated to numerous acts of misconduct involving three consolidated cases and including failure to communicate with clients, keep them informed of the status of their case, sign a substitution of attorney form and turn over their files to new counsel, improper case withdrawal and commingling personal and client funds. He also did not cooperate with the bar's investigation.

Peritz, a member of the bar since 1961, also was privately reproved in 1991.

THOMAS VICTOR ORVIS [#54259], 51, of Palo Alto was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for one year, effective Sept. 29, 1996, on the condition that he actually be suspended for 30 days. He was ordered to pass the MPRE.

In 1994, Orvis was convicted in federal court of aiding and abetting in contempt of court (Title 18 U.S.C., §2/401(3)). Following his conviction, the State Bar Court found Orvis culpable of conduct warranting discipline.

Orvis' misconduct surrounded his actions while representing a client who was the target of a fraudulent loan lawsuit following the collapse of a savings and loan.

The Resolution Trust Corporation, conservator of the failed banking institution, was successful in obtaining an order to freeze the assets of Orvis' client while the federal case was pending.

However, after the order was issued, Orvis aided the client in the sale of a house she owned and misled federal authorities as to the status of the property.

In mitigation, Orvis said he erroneously believed the freeze order was not applicable to the sale of the property, because it had no equity.

He also believed that if the sale of the property had not gone through, his client would have been placed in a difficult financial situation.

Orvis was admitted to the practice of law in 1972 and has no prior record of discipline.

GREGG ALAN STANFORD [#109433], 41, of Orangevale was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for two years with six months actual suspension, effective Sept. 29, 1996. He also was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955.

Stanford's misconduct involved commingling and issuing bad checks. For several months in 1993, Stanford wrote 23 checks on his client trust account for more than $4,000 in personal expenses. In addition, five checks were returned by the bank for insufficient funds.

In aggravation, his misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing and he failed to participate in the disciplinary proceedings.

Stanford's lack of a discipline record in his nine years of practice before the misconduct began in 1993 was considered a mitigating factor.

JOHN M. BLACKBURN [#87393], 59, of Golden, Colo., was suspended for five years, stayed, and placed on probation for five years with 18 months actual suspension, effective Sept. 29, 1996. He was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955.

Blackburn stipulated to three separate acts of dishonesty and two acts of violating the California Rules of Professional Conduct.

In one matter, to protect himself from a pending lawsuit involving a photo business, Blackburn secured a fraudulent loan and deed to the title of his home. He also gave false information on his bankruptcy petition regarding the fictitious loan. During this period, Blackburn and his wife were in the process of divorcing.

In addition, the bankruptcy proceedings resulted in a $160,000 judgment against Blackburn, to be paid to a photo company. The same day Blackburn and the photo company executed a release, Blackburn quitclaimed his one-half undivided interest in his home to the photo business.

A few months later, a reconveyance of the fictitious deed of trust, in favor of Blackburn and his wife, was executed and recorded. Two days later he quitclaimed his interest in the home to his wife, without notifying the photo business.

Blackburn was sued by the photo company and a judgment was entered declaring the quitclaim deed fraudulent.

In aggravation, Blackburn's misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing and harmed the administration of justice by necessitating litigation to set aside a fraudulent conveyance.

In mitigation, Blackburn was admitted to the bar in 1979 and has no prior record of discipline. Except for one of the violations, the misconduct occurred about 10 years ago.

In a discipline matter involving a child custody case, his abrupt withdrawal from the case did not harm his client.

The probation of W. MERRILL DAVIDSON [#39576], 58, of Los Angeles was revoked and the stay of suspension lifted, effective Oct. 6, 1996. Davidson was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for one year.

Davidson's misconduct involved his failure to timely file quarterly probation reports, a requirement of a 1994 disciplinary order. At that time, Davidson received a 60-day actual suspension for commingling funds.

The 1994 disciplinary order was considered an aggravating factor.

In mitigation, Davidson has practiced law in California for 26 years with no prior record of discipline until 1994. He has been diligent in representing clients in criminal matters in the past 31 years and has never been culpable of negligence or legal malpractice.

Davidson made a good faith effort to comply with his probation conditions. Although he filed his probation reports late, he completed other conditions.

Davidson was out of the state when one report was due and misunderstood correspondence from bar officials regarding the matter.

In addition, Davidson was distracted from his disciplinary obligations due to the fact that he has custody of his five children and runs a home office with no support staff.

His participation in bar proceedings, passage of the CPRE and candid demeanor were also viewed as mitigating factors.

Davidson expressed remorse and several members of the legal community, including a superior court judge, attested to his honesty, integrity and good reputation.

PAUL DAVID FILLMAN [#89268], 51, of Long Beach was suspended for three years, stayed, and placed on probation for three years on the condition that he is actually suspended for two years and until he has made restitution and provides proof of his rehabilitation. He was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Oct. 9, 1996.

In this decision, Fillman was found culpable of several client trust account violations and failure to promptly pay out client funds and medical liens, cooperate with the bar's investigation and maintain a current address with the bar's membership department.

In one instance, he wrote three checks on his client trust account to pay the rent on his law office. All three checks were returned for insufficient funds.

Considered aggravating circumstances were Fillman's indifference toward rectification of the consequences of his misconduct, refusal to account for his mishandling of settlement proceeds and failure to participate in the disciplinary hearings prior to default.

In mitigation, Fillman has been a member of the bar since 1979, with no prior record of discipline.

RICHARD D. GIVENS [#37472], 57, of Redwood City was suspended for 90 days, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective Oct. 11, 1996. He was ordered to pass the MPRE.

Givens was convicted of drunk driving in February 1995, after he was arrested in Trinity County with a blood alcohol level of .19 percent.

In aggravation, Givens was convicted of two prior drunk driving violations in 1988 and 1993. His 1993 criminal probation conditions included attendance in an alcohol abuse program, which he completed in February 1995.

In mitigation, Givens was admitted to the bar in 1966, and he has no prior record of discipline. He was cooperative with the bar's investigation and has taken steps to address his alcohol problem.

He has abstained from alcohol since the 1995 incident and has participated in meetings of "The Other Bar," an alcohol abuse program for members of the legal community.

Also in mitigation, Givens has been active in numerous legal organizations and headed the Law Day program in San Mateo County. He has served as a judge or hearing officer of the San Francisco Retirement Board and has been a pro bono arbitrator the past 10 years.

He is currently chairman of a non-profit association and provides pro bono legal services to the group. Six attorneys provided letters attesting to his good character and involvement in the community.

BRETT L. FRANCISCO [#141745], 47, of Santa Clarita was suspended for six months, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective Oct. 11, 1996. He was ordered to pass the MPRE.

In this decision, Francisco was found culpable of failing to pay court-ordered sanctions of $700 and $1,500. He also did not timely report the $1,500 sanction to the State Bar.

No aggravating circumstances were established, but numerous mitigating factors were presented.

Francisco's personal problems during this period were accorded moderate weight in mitigation, since they impacted his ability to pay the court-ordered sanctions.

At the time, Francisco and his wife were separated and he sought treatment for depression and back problems which left numbness and pain in his arm. He also had a significant drop in income and was forced to borrow money to support his children.

Since then, both his medical condition and marriage situation have improved.

The bar found that although Francisco believed in good faith that he did not have to report the $1,500 sanction, he should have investigated the matter more thoroughly.

SCOTT NORDBY HANSEN [#61414], 47, of Sonoma was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for two years with 90 days actual suspension, effective Oct. 11, 1996. He also was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955.

This default decision involved two client matters and Hansen's reckless failure to perform legal services, promptly respond to a client's reasonable case status inquiries, communicate with a client, cooperate with the bar's investigation and improper withdrawal from a case.

In one instance, Hansen was hired by a woman to represent her in a third party personal injury matter. After some initial work on the case, Hansen failed to follow through and the client's case was dismissed. He did not respond to the client's telephone calls and letters nor to correspondence sent by State Bar investigators.

The bar court hearing department found that the client was harmed by the dismissal of her cause of action, an aggravating circumstance. Hansen's failure to participate in the bar's hearings was deemed to show a lack of respect for the disciplinary proceedings.

In mitigation, Hansen practiced law for 17 years with a discipline-free record prior to his misconduct.

The probation of GERALD WATARU TAKAHASHI [#54666], 52, of Los Angeles was revoked and his previously ordered stay of suspension lifted, effective Oct. 17, 1996. Takahashi was actually suspended for one year with credit given for the period of inactive enrollment which began July 6. He also was ordered to comply with rule 955.

Takahashi did not timely comply with conditions of probation from a November 1994 disciplinary order. He did not file his probation reports or a statement from his mental health provider during the required period.

The 1994 disciplinary order was the result of his failure to file an affidavit in compliance with rule 955, a condition of a previous discipline matter.

In aggravation, Takahashi has a prior record of discipline stemming back to 1977, when he received a private reproval for misconduct in two client matters. He was publicly reproved in March 1984, and in July 1993, he received a six-month actual suspension with probation and was ordered to make restitution. The 1993 order involved his misconduct in six client matters.

The hearing department of the State Bar Court gave some mitigating weight to Takahashi's compliance, albeit late, of probation reporting requirements.

MARVIN M. MITCHELSON [#27801], 68, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for three years with a one-year actual suspension, effective Oct. 17, 1996. He also was ordered to make restitution in the amount of nearly $185,000 to 10 clients.

Mitchelson, a well-known "palimony" attorney, was disciplined by the State Bar for misconduct in 11 client matters, many of which involved divorce cases and his failure to return unearned fees.

A number of his clients fired Mitchelson after they learned he was convicted of federal income tax evasion in 1993.

In one instance, Mitchelson was hired by a client to represent her in a divorce matter and to appeal a decision concerning an ante-nuptial agreement.

The client gave Mitchelson $30,000 in advanced fees. Nearly a year later, the client learned of Mitchelson's conviction for tax evasion and terminated his services. When she asked for an accounting of the money she gave him, Mitchelson failed to provide it.

In another matter, a woman hired Mitchelson and advanced him $15,000 to handle her divorce. After rescheduling a court appearance twice, Mitchelson failed to show up, the client's case was dismissed and she also was ordered to surrender community funds in her possession to her ex-husband's attorney.

In another instance, Mitchelson was hired by an Arizona physician to represent him in a paternity suit and advanced him $25,000 in attorney's fees. A few months later, when he learned of Mitchelson's tax evasion conviction, he sent a letter terminating his services and requesting an accounting of his legal services. Mitchelson failed to return the funds or provide an accounting of the fees.

In aggravation, Mitchelson's misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing, he significantly harmed clients and he has a prior record of discipline.

In February 1993, he received a 60-day stayed suspension and three years probation. In March 1994, he was suspended when he failed to pass the CPRE, a requirement of the 1993 discipline order.

In August 1994, his 1993 probation was revoked for failure to file quarterly probation reports, report a change of address to the bar's membership department and complete a law office management course. He was placed on 60 days actual suspension.

In mitigation, Mitchelson suffered extreme physical disabilities at the time of his misconduct. He was periodically hospitalized for a heart condition, bleeding ulcers, anemia and cervical disk disease. He is currently under treatment for these conditions.

He took objective steps to acknowledge his wrongdoing. Although he filed a personal bankruptcy action in February 1993, he did not attempt to discharge any debt owed to a client or former client.

RICHARD LEONARD IVEY [#129327], 41, of El Centro was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for two years on the condition that he actually be suspended for 30 days and until he makes restitution, effective Oct. 17, 1996. He also was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955.

In this default decision, Ivey was hired by a client to represent him as a defendant in a personal injury matter. Ivey did not perform any legal services on behalf of the client other than to file a form answer to the plaintiff's complaint and make a late appearance at a status conference.

He also did not communicate with the client or return unearned legal fees or the case file to the client. In addition, he failed to cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In aggravation, Ivey engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing and his conduct significantly harmed his client.

Ivey's lack of a prior record of discipline was given little weight in mitigation since he had practiced less than seven years before the misconduct.

WILLIAM P. IMPERIAL [#98400], 43, of Los Angeles was suspended for three months, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective Oct. 17, 1996. He was ordered to pass the MPRE.

In several client matters Imperial's misconduct included client trust account violations, failure to perform legal services, respond to a client's reasonable case status inquiries and cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In one instance, Imperial was hired by a client in October 1989 to represent him as a plaintiff in a personal injury matter. In March 1990, Imperial filed a complaint on behalf of his client and served the defendants a few months later. In May 1994, the court granted a motion of the defendant, the California Department of Transportation, to dismiss for failure to prosecute. The court also granted the defendant's motion to sanction Imperial.

No factors were presented in aggravation.

In mitigation, Imperial is active in Chicano community organizations, including the Mexican-American Bar Association. In his practice he has performed an extensive amount of pro bono legal services as well as services for substantially reduced rates.

He has no prior record of discipline in 15 years of practice.

JEROME EDELMAN [#41749], 57, of Orange was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective Oct. 17, 1996. He was ordered to pass the MPRE.

Edelman was hired by a client to represent her in a bankruptcy matter in 1987. In 1989, Edelman was discharged by the bankruptcy court after determining that he failed to show the necessary competence or experience to comply with a previous disgorgement order.

In 1991, the client requested Edelman to resume work on her case. Edelman received advanced attorney's fees of $10,000 from the client's sister, without receiving approval from the bankruptcy court, considered an act of moral turpitude.

In 1992, the client's sister requested that Edelman return the $10,000 fee, but he failed to respond or promptly refund the money.

In 1994, the bankruptcy court issued an order to disgorge the unauthorized $10,000, but Edelman failed to comply with the order or establish that advanced fees were allowed.

It was stipulated that Edelman subjectively believed he was in compliance with the bankruptcy code. He began paying restitution prior to the bar's involvement and performed 200 hours of community service.

In aggravation, Edelman's misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing and significantly harmed his clients.

In mitigation, Edelman has been a member of the State Bar since 1968 with no prior record of misconduct.

Edelman did attorney work in the bankruptcy matter and has disgorged all fees received.

JOHN A. DAVIS [#49368], 56, of San Ramon was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective Oct. 17, 1996. He was ordered to pass the MPRE.

In one matter, Davis was hired by a client to represent her husband in his attempt to seek a reduction of his prison sentence. Davis failed to perform legal services or return his unearned fees. The client later won a fee arbitration award, but Davis failed to make the payments. He also failed to respond to the client's case status inquiries or return case files.

In aggravation, Davis' misconduct significantly harmed clients. One client was deprived of her money, another lost his cause of action and another did not have her file returned promptly.

Davis also did not cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In mitigation, Davis has been a member of the bar since 1971, with no prior record of discipline.


Interim Suspension

VICTORIA ANN KING [#74024], 51, of Tucson, Ariz., was placed on interim suspension, effective Oct. 4, 1996, following her conviction of violating Arizona Revised Statutes 13-2310, fraudulent scheme and artifice, and 13-1801 (A) (2), theft by conversion, crimes involving moral turpitude. She was ordered to comply with rule 955.


Resignation/Charges Pending

FRANK RICHARD CHASE [#101615], 41, of San Francisco (Sept. 26, 1996)

EDWARD S. COLEMAN [#24629], 67, of Las Vegas (Sept. 29, 1996)

GEORGE T. KASTANIS [#147600], 33, of Sacramento (Sept. 29, 1996)

BILLIE J. CEGLIA-ANDERSON [#123810], 57, of San Jose (Oct. 4, 1996)

MURRAY DONALD KATZ [#24333], 69, of San Francisco (Oct. 6, 1996)

EDISON PENROW McDANIELS [#33239], 73, of San Bernardino (Oct. 10, 1996)

JAMES P. KRAUS [#125910], 39, of Marysville (Oct. 17, 1996)


Suspension/Failure to Pass PRE

BEATRICE R. PAYTON LAWSON [#53957], 59, of Los Angeles (Sept. 18, 1996)

JOSEPH POOLE VANDENBERG [#29072], 65, of Sacramento (Oct. 2, 1996)

MELVIN LEONARD SCHECTER [#75003], 47, of Los Angeles (Oct. 2, 1996)

SUZANNE LOUISE HARRIS [#45303], 51, of Johnstown, Colo. (Oct. 9, 1996)

ALVIN E. HENDRICSON [#24015], 74, of San Francisco (Oct. 17, 1996)

J. TERENCE LYONS [#51036], 50, of Los Angeles (Oct. 17, 1996)

ALAN MELVYN SMOTKIN [#40604], 53, of Beverly Hills (Oct. 17, 1996)


Reinstatement

MERLIN L. REED JR. [#81193], 49, of Simi Valley (Aug. 27, 1996)

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