Caution!

More than 150,560 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

STEPHEN EUGENE SECRIST [#101937], 43, of Roseville was disbarred April 27, 1996, and ordered to comply with Rule 955 of the California Rules of Court.

Secrist was disbarred by the Supreme Court of Arizona on Sept. 23, 1994. As a result, the State Bar of California initiated its own proceedings to determine whether or not his misconduct in Arizona warranted discipline here.

Secrist did not appear or participate in the disciplinary proceedings and failed to dispute the results of the Arizona bar's actions.

Secrist was disciplined in Arizona for multiple acts of misconduct involving three client matters. Among other things, he failed to represent clients competently, refund unearned fees, communicate with his clients and cooperate with the bar's investigation.

He also was ordered to make restitution in one case.

Secrist has a discipline record in California. In 1995, he received a one-year stayed suspension for misconduct involving two bankruptcy matters.

In addition, Secrist vacated his Roseville law offices this past January, leaving behind 24 boxes of client files involving approximately 200-300 client matters. Due to the apparent abandonment of his office, the State Bar assumed jurisdiction of his law practice.

In the current disbarment decision, the hearing department of the State Bar Court said that as a result of his actions, "this Court has no basis upon which to conclude that discipline short of disbarment would adequately protect the public."

STUART H. HIRSH [#59504], 64, of Los Angeles was disbarred April 27, 1996, and ordered to comply with Rule 955.

Hirsh was disbarred after he failed to file an affidavit of compliance with Rule 955, a requirement of a discipline order from March 1995.

At that time, Hirsh received a three-year stayed suspension, with two years actual suspension and was ordered to make restitution.

His suspension involved three client matters and multiple acts of misconduct.

He was found culpable of wilfully disobeying a judge's order, trust account violations, including misappropriation of a client's settlement, and failing to cooperate with the bar's investigation.

At the time of his misconduct, Hirsh's mother died and he sought therapy for depression. As a condition of probation he was ordered to obtain psychiatric or psychological help for a borderline personality disorder.

Hirsh was admitted to the bar in 1974.

SAMUEL J. MENDEZ [#135549], 39, of Huntington Park was disbarred April 27, 1996, and ordered to comply with Rule 955.

The hearing department of the State Bar Court recommended Mendez' disbarment after finding him culpable of "extremely serious" misconduct which involved seven client matters, misappropriation of significant funds from three clients and the loss of causes of action to three additional clients due to his failure to perform services.

In addition, Mendez was found culpable of misconduct in four other client matters during the same time period in a prior disciplinary proceeding.

The hearing department also found that Mendez' failure to participate in either his disbarment proceeding or the earlier disciplinary proceeding demonstrated that he is "unwilling or unable to comply with the standards of conduct required of attorneys of this State."

Mendez received settlement funds for three separate clients totalling $35,000, which he misappropriated. His failure to make restitution significantly harmed his clients.

Mendez was admitted to the bar in 1988.

CARLOS ALBERTO CUESTA [#81252], 48, of Santa Ana was disbarred May 3, 1996, and ordered to comply with Rule 955.

Cuesta was found culpable of professional misconduct involving four clients and violation of the conditions of probation imposed in a previous disciplinary order.

His misconduct involved failure to communicate, return unearned fees, perform legal services competently and keep clients informed of the status of their case.

He also did not file timely probation reports or provide proof of attendance at a law office management course, requirements of a 1993 disciplinary order.

Cuesta's prior discipline record goes back to 1983 and was considered an aggravating factor in this case. He was most recently disciplined in 1990 for misconduct similar to one of the current matters involving abandonment of a case.

In 1993, he was again disciplined for the same type of misconduct.

The hearing department of the State Bar Court found Cuesta's "cavalier" attitude regarding his pattern of misconduct "of great concern," especially since he "has not been absent from the disciplinary arena during the last 12 years."

"There is no way to assure the public, the courts or the profession that [Cuesta] will not continue to be a menace if he is permitted to practice law. [Cuesta] has left this Court with no option other than to make a disbarment recommendation," wrote the bar court judge.

CHRISTOPHER LEWIS ASHCRAFT [#74099], 48, of San Diego was disbarred May 3, 1996, and ordered to comply with Rule 955.

Ashcraft was disbarred following his failure to file an affidavit of compliance with Rule 955 of the California Rules of Court, a requirement of a December 1994 discipline order.

At that time, Ashcraft was suspended for three years, with credit for a period of inactive enrollment.

His prior record of discipline was considered an aggravating factor in the decision.

Ashcraft has been a member of the bar since 1977.

ROBERT C. HUNTINGTON [#74571], 49, of Santa Rosa was summarily disbarred May 5, 1996.

The action was taken after Huntington pleaded no contest in March 1995 to fraudulent misappropriation of property by a fiduciary in violation of Penal Code 506.

In April 1985, Huntington drafted a will which nominated him as executor. When his client died in 1987, he was named executor and functioned as attorney for the estate.

In his declaration filed with the bar court, Huntington said he knew he misappropriated his client funds and, during probate, loaned estate funds to himself and other clients. The State Bar estimated that he misappropriated approximately $30,000 from the estate. All funds were eventually repaid with interest.

In its recommendation to the Supreme Court, the review department of the State Bar Court found that his criminal conviction met the statutory requirements for summary disbarment: (1) a felony; (2) a specific intent to defraud or steal; and (3) the offense was committed in the course of the practice of law.

Huntington argued that attorneys who commit misappropriation are not inevitably disbarred. But the review department noted that none of the cases he cited involved a criminal conviction for misappropriation.

In addition, Huntington did not cite any precedent where the review department had failed to recommend summary disbarment for a similar offense.

"The distinction between an original disciplinary proceeding in which misappropriation is found and a case where an attorney has been criminally convicted of misappropriation is a significant one," said the bar court review judge.

Huntington was admitted to the bar in 1977.


SUSPENSIONS/PROBATION

The probation of FRANCIS O. BOGGUS {#79796], 48, of Sacramento was extended until Dec. 10. The order took effect March 30, 1996.

Boggus was suspended and placed on probation in 1994 after stipulating to misconduct in 16 separate matters, including failure to adequately supervise his office staff and maintain his client trust account and charging unconscionable fees.

Because he failed to file two quarterly compliance reports on time, his probation was extended.

In mitigation, he filed the reports late as a result of his poor financial condition and complied as soon as he was financially able.

The stay of execution of probation for MARTIN J. McDONAGH [#101086], 40, of Los Angeles was lifted and he was suspended for 60 days and until he makes restitution. If the suspension exceeds 90 days, he must comply with Rule 955 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect April 18, 1996.

Last November, McDonagh was given a stayed three-year suspension and placed on five years of probation. In addition, he was privately reproved in 1994 for neglecting five cases and sanctions were imposed in each case.

At the time of the reproval, he agreed to attend therapy sessions, make restitution to his former law firm, provide a medical waiver to the State Bar and file quarterly probation reports. His failure to comply with those conditions led to the November suspension.

As part of the November discipline, McDonagh was to submit a law office management plan, file quarterly probation reports and make restitution payments.

His failure to do so led to the April suspension order.

The probation of ROBERT EARL CROSS I [#65554], 54, of Oakland was extended for one year, beginning April 18, 1996.

In March 1994, Cross was given a stayed suspension and placed on five years of probation with conditions.

He violated his probation by failing to complete ethics school or submit a statement from a professional regarding his psychiatric treatment.

Cross has a long history of discipline dating to 1989. His past misconduct included failure to communicate with clients and perform legal services competently, improperly withdrawing from cases and making misrepresentations to clients.

GARLAND JEANNE GREENAWALT [#129240], 52 of Los Altos was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years probation with a 30-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the CPRE within one year. The order took effect April 18, 1996.

When Greenawalt left a law firm to open her own practice in 1993, she took with her a medical malpractice case for which she had been retained. She believed the law firm would be entitled only to fees on a quantum meruit basis and she would collect all other fees on the cases she took with her.

But in the matter which led to her discipline, the firm demanded 100 percent of the fees in what the parties stipulated was "almost . . . financial warfare" which placed Greenawalt in "a totally unexpected financial bind."

As a result, Greenawalt did not notify her client that she had received settlement funds and failed to promptly pay the funds. Greenawalt used the funds due her client to pay an expert witness in another case. She eventually sent her client a cashier's check for the full amount.

In mitigation, Greenawalt has no record of discipline since her 1987 admission to the bar.

PHILIP FLICKINGER [#59369], 48, of Yucca Valley was suspended for one year and placed on two years probation with an actual 30-day suspension and until he makes restitution. Should the actual suspension exceed two years, he will remain suspended until he proves rehabilitation. He also must comply with Rule 955. The order took effect April 18, 1996.

Flickinger stipulated to misconduct in two cases. The first resulted from the bitter dissolution of his law firm.

He negotiated an auto accident settlement for a client and intended to retain part of the settlement as his fees. He requested his former partner to endorse the settlement draft. However, his secretary told his former partner that the entire settlement was to go to the client, and the ex-partner endorsed the settlement check, believing that to be the case. When he learned of Flickinger's intentions, he placed a hold on the check and distribution of the money was delayed.

By his conduct, Flickinger failed to properly supervise an employee.

In the second matter, he charged a client an unconscionable fee, taking one-third of the child support payments he secured.

Flickinger also was disciplined in 1989 for charging fees disproportionate to the services he performed.

In mitigation, his misconduct represented two isolated incidents rather than a pattern and occurred during the dissolution of his law partnership. He also has an extensive record of community volunteerism.

N. KENNETH REEVES [#36506], 54, of Carmichael was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years probation and ordered to take the CPRE within one year. The order took effect April 19, 1996.

Reeves was convicted of two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol with a prior and one count of driving on a suspended license within a nine-month period.

Admitted to the bar in 1965, he had no prior discipline. When his wife died of pancreatic cancer, Reeves was severely depressed and began drinking.

He completed an alcohol treatment program and provided letters attesting to his competence and integrity as a deputy district attorney in Sacramento for 27 years.

JEREMIAH JOHN LEAHY [#101692], 44, of Antioch was suspended for 30 days, effective April 19, 1996.

Leahy was disciplined last year following criminal convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, driving with a suspended license and possession of a hypodermic needle. As part of his five-year probation, he was ordered to comply with Rule 955 by notifying clients and opposing counsel of his suspension and submitting an affidavit to the Supreme Court.

Because Leahy did not maintain a current address with the State Bar, he did not learn of the disciplinary order for several months and therefore filed his affidavit late.

In mitigation, he complied quickly once he learned of the order, has cooperated with the bar, and has not practiced law since last July.

JOSEPH ROBERT MORENO [#64981], 48, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for two years with six months actual suspension. He was ordered to make restitution, pass the CPRE and comply with Rule 955. The order was effective April 27, 1996.

Moreno's misconduct involved abandoning two clients and failing to cooperate with the bar's investigation. In addition, he was found culpable of failing to obey court orders and failing to report sanctions to the State Bar.

In its decision, the bar's hearing department noted that Moreno failed to participate in the disciplinary proceedings and demonstrated an unwillingness or inability to comply with his professional obligations.

In one instance, Moreno was hired to represent a client in a personal injury matter arising from an automobile accident in 1992. Moreno did not take any action on the case for about a year, when he finally filed a complaint on behalf of the client.

Another year went by before Moreno served the defendants in the case in 1994, but then he failed to perform any additional services and neglected to inform his client that he was ceasing work on the case.

During this period, the client made numerous attempts to contact Moreno by telephone and set up several meetings, which Moreno failed to attend.

The client eventually hired another attorney, but Moreno failed to respond to the new attorney's requests that he stop all work on the case and execute a substitution of attorney form.

The successor counsel filed a complaint with the State Bar, but Moreno did not respond to a bar investigator's letters requesting that the client's file be turned over.

He also failed to make several superior court appearances regarding the client's representation and was eventually found guilty of contempt of court, fined $1,500 and relieved as counsel for the client.

The bar court's hearing department noted that because Moreno offered no explanation or evidence concerning his misconduct, "a discipline recommendation short of suspension cannot be made."

JILL MORTON [#135107], 50, of Emeryville was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, with 60 days actual suspension, effective May 3, 1996. She also was ordered to pass the CPRE and seek psychiatric or psychological help.

Morton was convicted of misdemeanor possession of LSD in September 1994. While executing a search warrant, police found a black film canister with five "hits" of the drug in a bedroom of her Berkeley residence.

At the time, two people "with substantial backgrounds in narcotics use and trafficking" were temporarily living with Morton in her home.

The municipal court suspended the imposition of sentence and placed Morton on summary probation for three years with several conditions, including an order that she perform ten days of volunteer service.

The hearing department of the bar court found that the facts and circumstances surrounding Morton's offense did not involve moral turpitude, but did constitute other misconduct warranting discipline.

The State Bar trial counsel sought to have Morton actually suspended for two years, but the hearing department questioned the circumstances surrounding Morton's arrest and said that the recommendation was based on a "misguided and ill-conceived belief that more serious aspects of this case would be proven than occurred."

The bar court found that the appropriate evidence was not submitted and that it couldn't determine sanctions "based upon rumor and unproven suspicion."

The bar court hearing department concluded that the arresting officer's statement was "replete with statements that are of little probative value."

However, the hearing department found that Morton demonstrated a "gross lack of judgment" and that the circumstances "reasonably indicate at least a potential substance abuse problem."

In mitigation, little weight was accorded to her length of practice, because Morton has been a member of the bar only since 1988.

Her failure to fully participate in bar disciplinary proceedings was considered an aggravating factor. Her appearance at an earlier status conference caused concern and a letter she sent to the court was ex parte, "violating a fundamental principle of ethical practice."

The letter was "rambling and disjointed," which caused the court to speculate on Morton's current ability to practice law.

JACK BRADLEY HAMLIN [#138555], 40, of La Jolla was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for two years with 90 days actual suspension. He was ordered to make restitution, pass the CPRE and comply with Rule 955. The order took effect May 3, 1996.

In this default matter, Hamlin's misconduct involved failure to perform services competently, communicate with his client, return unearned fees and cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In January 1993, Hamlin was hired by a client to defend him and his company in a civil action and file a cross-complaint.

He failed to file the cross-complaint or respond in an appropriate manner to the plaintiff's inspection demands.

After the plaintiff filed a motion to compel, Hamlin was ordered by the court to provide the requested information and to pay $314 in sanctions for failing to comply with discovery requests.

He did not inform his client of the court's order, nor did he comply with the order.

In November 1993, the superior court granted the plaintiff's motion for default and in April 1994 awarded judgment against the client and his company in the amount of $100,754 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages.

Based on this judgment, the plaintiff obtained a judgment against the client for more than $350,000 in Washington state.

Considered an aggravating factor was the fact that Hamlin's conduct significantly harmed his client since he had to retain counsel in both Washington and California to set aside and vacate the default judgments and perform other legal services.

The court also gave significant weight to Hamlin's refusal to return the client's file or to assist new counsel in reopening the cases.

Hamlin was admitted to the bar in 1988 and has no prior record of discipline, but because his misconduct began less than six years after his admission to practice, it was accorded little weight in mitigation.

GREGORY K. BERRY [#129954], 42, of Venice was suspended for three years, stayed, and placed on probation for three years on the condition that he actually be suspended for nine months and until he makes restitution.

If the period of actual suspension exceeds two years, he will remain suspended until he has shown proof of his rehabilitation and fitness to practice law. He also was ordered to pass the CPRE and comply with Rule 955. The order took effect May 3, 1996.

Berry's misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing and caused significant harm to several clients and the administration of justice.

In one instance, Berry was hired by a client in June 1993 to represent her in a civil dispute. Berry falsely told opposing counsel that he had forwarded certain documents to the court. His failure to perform services resulted in a dismissal of the matter by the court.

Berry did not tell his client about the dismissal, nor did he inform her that he agreed not to oppose the other attorney's motion to vacate and enter his client's default.

He then failed to answer the motion and a default judgment against his client was entered. The opposing attorney also filed a motion for attorney's fees and costs, which the court granted.

In December 1993, Berry unsuccessfully attempted to have the default judgment against his client vacated.

During the time of his misconduct, Berry told his client that he was addicted to at least one drug, "speed," and under extreme stress. Although he knew he was incapable of competently representing her, he never sought to withdraw from her case.

In aggravation, his misconduct caused two clients to lose their rights to have their cases promptly resolved on their own merits.

In failing to make restitution to two other clients, he demonstrated indifference to rectifying his actions.

No mitigating circumstances were established.

SEBASTIAN PHILLIP ERNANDES [#89088], 42, of San Pedro was suspended for two years, stayed, effective May 3, 1996. He was placed on two years probation with six months actual suspension and until he makes restitution.

If the period of actual suspension exceeds two years, he will remain suspended until he has shown proof of his rehabilitation and fitness to practice law. He also was ordered to pass the CPRE and comply with Rule 955.

Ernandes' misconduct involved three clients. After a default trial, the hearing department of the State Bar Court found him culpable of failing to perform services competently in two client matters and failing to communicate and return unearned fees in one matter.

In two instances, he failed to return client papers as requested and he also did not cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In one matter, Ernandes was employed by a client to represent her travel business in a civil action. The client paid a total of $650 in advanced fees to Ernandes, but he failed to follow through with her case.

In aggravation, Ernandes engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, he practiced law more than 11 years prior to the first incident of misconduct.

A. BRENT CARRUTH [#47560], 52, of Agoura Hills was actually suspended for 42 months, effective May 5, 1996. The period of suspension will be concurrent with the remaining period of suspension from a 1994 discipline order.

Carruth's current misconduct involves his failure to comply with probation conditions attached to a July 1994 discipline order. He neglected to file complete and proper quarterly reports.

The 1994 discipline order was the result of 29 counts of misconduct involving misleading advertising and failing to communicate with clients, supervise employees and return unearned fees. He received a five-year stayed suspension with five years probation and a three-year actual suspension at that time.

JULIET CATHERINE ASHTON [#41989], 53, of San Jose was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective May 5, 1996. She was ordered to pass the CPRE.

Ashton's misconduct involved four clients and multiple acts of wrongdoing.

In one instance, Ashton was employed by a client to represent him in a legal matter related to his divorce. She previously represented him in a personal injury matter which she settled, but deposited the funds in her general account rather than her client trust account.

The client signed an agreement for attorney's fees and costs in the divorce matter, which created a lien for attorney's fees on the personal injury settlement.

Subsequent to his endorsement of the settlement check for the personal injury matter, Ashton provided the client with an accounting of the balance due to him, but did not give him the funds.

She kept the balance due the client in partial payment of fees owed to her for the divorce-related matter.

The agreement did not fully disclose the conditions surrounding the matter and the client did not understand that Ashton was placing a lien on the personal injury settlement funds. Ashton did not advise her client to seek the advice of independent counsel regarding the second fee agreement, which constituted an adverse business transaction with him.

In mitigation, Ashton was admitted to the bar in 1968 and has no prior record of discipline. She displayed spontaneous candor, cooperated with the bar's investigation and presented an extraordinary demonstration of her good character.

THOMAS JOSEPH BURNS [#107910], 38, of Modesto was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on probation for two years, and ordered to take the CPRE within one year. The order took effect May 5, 1996.

The State Bar Court's review department, in its second review of Burns' case, increased the discipline recommended by the hearing judge, who had ordered only a private reproval with no conditions.

Burns was convicted in 1991 for assault with a firearm with the enhancement that he discharged a firearm at an occupied car and caused great bodily injury to a passenger.

The incident occurred in 1990 as Burns was driving home from his job as a reserve police officer. Another car pulled alongside his and the passenger leaned out and shattered Burns' window with a baseball bat.

Believing he had been shot at, Burns took a legally registered handgun from his glove compartment and fired a single shot at the other car, striking the back seat passenger in the face. As a result, the passenger lost several teeth and part of her gum.

When Burns' conviction was first referred to the bar court for discipline, the hearing judge dismissed the case. Bar prosecutors appealed, and the review department found Burns' actions involved misconduct warranting discipline and remanded the case for hearing.

After the hearing judge recommended a private reproval without conditions, the bar trial counsel again appealed, leading to the latest recommendation.

The review department agreed with bar attorneys that the hearing judge should not have admitted telephonic evidence of Burns' character, because it is important to observe the demeanor of character witnesses.

Although Burns' numerous pro bono activities were considered "an extraordinary demonstration of good character," the review panel discounted other evidence the hearing judge had considered as mitigation.


INTERIM SUSPENSION

DANIEL BUSBY [#28022], 67, of Beverly Hills was placed on interim suspension March 21, 1996, following his conviction for grand theft. He was ordered to comply with Rule 955.


RESIGNATION/CHARGES PENDING

GOLI K. ALAI [#140460], 34, of Santa Ana (March 30, 1996)

GEORGE V. PEREZ JR. [#165681], 57, of San Jose (April 18, 1996)

JESSE DEAN CANNAN [#26465], 67, of Cottonwood (April 18, 1996)

DAVID MICHAEL BROWN [#43249], 52, of Sherman Oaks (April 18, 1996)

BERNARD JOHN BERRY [#85107], 52, of Mission Hills (April 18, 1996)

PATRICK S. COLLINS [#87545], 45, of Fullerton (April 18, 1996)

STANLEY J. BAUMANN [#70094], 49, of Beverly Hills (May 5, 1996)


SUSPENSION/FAILURE TO PASS PRE

JAMES OLIVER FOSTER [#59372], 58, of Los Angeles (April 5, 1996)

JAMES STRATTON SHEPARD [#31097], 63, of Fresno (April 12, 1996)

GARY KENNETH GREEN [#50644], 51, of San Diego (April 26, 1996)

MANUEL ORTEGA [#79519], 51, of Tustin (April 26, 1996)


PUBLIC REPROVAL

PAUL T. LOCKE [#40233], 55, of Woodland Hills (Feb. 9, 1996)

DAVID RICHARD RANCOURT [#161461], 31, of Sacramento (Feb. 22, 1996)

JERRY MARTIN COHEN [#44450], 58, of San Diego (March 16, 1996)

FRANCISCO AMADO SUAREZ [#135479], 41, of Pomona (March 24, 1996)

ISAURO DIAZ [#130475], 36, of Los Angeles (March 28, 1996)

CONNIE SUE KRAMER [#100973], 48, of Lakewood (March 31, 1996)


REINSTATEMENT

CLIFTON JOHN McFARLAND [#136940], 38, of Los Angeles (April 5, 1996)

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