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Caution!

More than 156,330 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

JOHN VINCENT HANAHAN [#154287], 31, of San Francisco was disbarred Sept. 13, 1997, and ordered to comply with rule 955 of the California Rules of Court.

Hanahan’s problems stem from a 1993 conviction in Placer County for vehicular manslaughter while driving drunk. The State Bar Court found that his conduct amounted to moral turpitude and gave him a stayed two-year suspension, an actual nine-month suspension, and placed him on probation.

When he violated the terms of his disciplinary probation, the stayed suspension was revoked and he was suspended for 15 months and ordered to comply with rule 955 by notifying all pertinent parties of his suspension and filing an affidavit to that effect with the Supreme Court. His failure to do so led to the disbarment.

Hanahan "was admitted to practice for a very short time before his misconduct commenced," wrote bar court Judge Nancy Roberts Lonsdale in recommending disbarment. "He has demonstrated an unwillingness to comply with his professional obligations and the rules of conduct required of attorneys in California."

DAVID M. GARLAND [#26250], 74, of Newport Beach was disbarred Sept. 19, 1997, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

Garland was disciplined in 1995 and, as conditions of his probation, was required to file quarterly probation reports, pass the professional responsibility examination and complete 12 hours of MCLE courses in gender bias. He failed to do so and was disbarred.

The original discipline resulted from a 1993 conviction for misdemeanor assault and battery. Garland, who had practiced law for 40 years, was accused of exposing himself to his cleaning lady and grabbing her buttocks.

The State Bar Court judge found at that time that although Garland’s conduct was not related to the practice of law, it was a breach of his responsibility to society and demeaned the integrity of the legal profession.

In the current case, the court concluded, "It appears that [Garland] is wholly unresponsive to less serious forms of discipline, and that disbarment is the only sanction which will adequately protect the public, the courts and the legal profession."

MICHAEL TORREY WAYLAND [#43768], 55, of La Canada Flintridge was disbarred Sept. 20, 1997, and ordered to comply with rule 955.

Suspended and placed on probation in 1992, Wayland was ordered to file 10 quarterly probation reports and statements from his psychiatrist. His failure to do so led to the disbarment.

Wayland has a long record of misconduct, including five disciplinary cases since 1990. Four times he was placed on actual suspension and the fifth case brought him an additional year of probation because he failed to comply with earlier probation requirements.

His misconduct in the past included abandoning clients, failure to communicate with clients, perform legal services competently and return files, improperly withdrawing from representation and practicing while suspended.

Wayland did not participate in the disbarment proceedings.

Although the court noted that failure to comply with probation requirements is not as egregious as some of his past misconduct, Wayland’s record placed an onus on him.

"Further suspension followed by probation would not protect the public given (Wayland’s) attitude, the gravity of his total misconduct, his failure to participate and his history of past misconduct," wrote Judge Nancy Roberts Lonsdale.

ENRICO MAGSINO LAINEZ [#132833], 44, of Los Angeles was disbarred Oct. 8, 1997, and ordered to comply with rule 955.

The disbarment order resulted from Lainez’ June 1993 conviction in the Sacramento Municipal Court for running and capping. He represented claimants in connection with accidents that had been staged.

In March 1990, six months after Lainez opened his law offices, the Department of Justice received an anonymous call stating that a company called Certified Health Supplies (CHS) was buying medical stickers from members of the public.

Justice officials requested an audit of the company by the state controller’s office, which found that only 14 percent of the bills submitted to Medi-Cal by CHS could be supported by documentation.

Another audit revealed that from August 1989 through April 1990, Medi-Cal payments of $1.4 million were made to CHS, but documentation existed for only $342,265.

Eventually, the investigation involved the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and the State Insurance Fraud Bureau with search warrants issued for several medical clinics and Lainez’ law office.

At the conclusion of the investigation, it was suspected that Lainez and others were involved in capping, money laundering and conspiracy to commit Medi-Cal fraud by staging accidents.

In May 1993, an amended complaint in Sacramento Municipal Court charged Lainez with grand theft and conspiracy to present false insurance claims/money laundering. Lainez and one of his colleagues were arrested and the third suspect fled the area.

In June 1993, Lainez pleaded no contest to running and capping, which the court found to be a lesser included charge of the conspiracy charges. He was sentenced to three years probation with an order to make restitution of $42,500 to the California Department of Justice within 180 days.

The State Bar Court judge found that although the conviction was not a moral turpitude crime, per se, the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense involved moral turpitude.

In May 1995, the State Bar learned that Lainez had abandoned his office and in June 1995, the Los Angeles Superior Court assumed jurisdiction over Lainez’ law practice.

BRUCE MICHAEL LEYDEN [#43511], 53, of Redlands was summarily disbarred Oct. 8, 1997.

Leyden was convicted of insurance fraud and two counts of forgery in June 1994.

The conviction resulted from his involvement in the submission of a fraudulent personal injury claim to an insurer and obtaining a settlement based on that claim.

Leyden was hired by a 76-year-old woman in April 1991 to handle a personal injury claim in connection with an auto accident. Leyden sent a demand for $47,500 to the other driver’s insurance company, which was in excess of the policy limits of $25,000.

On November 6, his client was involved in another accident and then died of a heart attack on November 11.

Unaware of her death, on the following day, the insurance company made an offer to settle the woman’s claim for $13,000, including $8,000 for pain and suffering. Leyden suggested to the deceased woman’s daughter that an additional claim be made for medical bills, to increase the client’s husband’s recovery, after attorney’s fees, to about $10,000.

The daughter signed the decedent’s name to a release in Leyden’s presence and Leyden deposited the settlement draft, payable to the decedent and himself, into his client trust account. Both Leyden and the daughter signed the draft.

The insurance company discovered the fraud and demanded the return of the $13,000.

Leyden complied, but with the condition that the insurance company return the original release, agreeing to waive any defenses it might have by virtue of the release in any future suits brought by the decedent’s daughter or widower.

Without the widower’s permission, Leyden then filed a wrongful death and loss of consortium suit on behalf of the daughter and widower.

After the insurance company again refused to waive its defense in the suit, Leyden eventually returned the $13,000.

At the trial, prosecution experts testified that the pain and suffering portion of the decedent’s claim did not survive her death, as any personal injury attorney should know.

Leyden, however, testified that based on his own research, it was proper for the daughter to sign the release.

Leyden opposed the State Bar’s request for summary disbarment, but the bar court review department determined his misconduct was serious and met the statutory criteria for summary disbarment.

The court found that Leyden violated his duties as an attorney when he encouraged a client to submit a fraudulent claim.


Suspensions/Probation

FRANKLIN KNIGHT LANE III [#22494], 73, of Los Angeles was suspended for four years, stayed, and placed on probation for four years on the condition that he is actually suspended for three months and until he makes restitution, effective Aug. 29, 1997.

If the period of actual suspension continues for two years or longer, he will remain actually suspended until he has shown proof of his fitness to practice.

The actual suspension was temporarily stayed from Sept. 5 to Oct. 15, 1997. He was ordered to comply with rule 955 of the California Rules of Court.

Lane’s current misconduct involved three clients. In one instance, he failed to appear at a client’s deposition, falsely informing opposing counsel in a probate matter that he would be unavailable due to sudden medical problems requiring immediate attention. He stipulated that his misrepresentation involved moral turpitude.

In another instance, Lane was hired by a client for representation in a civil matter against a bank. He failed to serve the summons and complaint on the bank and failed to appear in court for a status conference. The case was dismissed for failure to appear.

In a third case, Lane was hired by an incarcerated client to seek a writ of habeas corpus, but he failed to perform legal services competently or return unearned fees.

In aggravation, Lane has a prior record of discipline. In July 1994, he received a three-year stayed suspension with 60 days actual; in September 1994, he was suspended for six months, stayed; and in July 1996, he received a two-year stayed suspension.

His misconduct was surrounded by bad faith and dishonesty and he significantly harmed a client.

In mitigation, Lane was deeply remorseful for the misstatements he made regarding the deposition in the probate case.

In the matter involving the lawsuit against the bank, Lane also was remorseful for his misconduct. Although he accepted blame for his inaction and delay, the fact that his client moved to Iran after the lawsuit was filed made it difficult for Lane to communicate with him.

After the client found out that his suit was dismissed, Lane offered to try to set aside the dismissal, but his client refused his services.

EVELYN ANN KRAMER [#107242], 42, of Los Angeles was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective Aug. 29, 1997. She also was ordered to pass the MPRE. Restitution to one client was included as a condition of probation.

In February 1995, Kramer was hired by a client to file an action to set aside foreclosure of her property.

The client also hired Kramer to handle a bankruptcy matter, respond to a related unlawful detainer action against the client and her husband, and to record a lis pendens.

Kramer failed to respond to several telephone calls from the client, which Kramer characterized to the bar as "hysterical and abusive" and coming at inappropriate late night and early morning hours. She believed that the attorney-client relationship had deteriorated but failed to inform the client of her concerns or to promptly withdraw from the client’s cases.

The client later discovered that her petition to challenge foreclosure had not been filed, nor was the lis pendens recorded. In addition, the client’s property had been sold, ending any recourse she may have had.

In another matter, Kramer failed to promptly respond to a client’s inquiries and promptly file her bankruptcy petition.

Meanwhile, a notice to garnish the client’s wages in the amount of $101,000 was sent to her employer. Because she was unsuccessful in reaching Kramer, the client was forced to immediately seek the services of another lawyer, who was successful in filing the petition.

In another count, Kramer stipulated to failing to properly maintain her client trust account.

In aggravation, Kramer’s misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing.

In mitigation, she cooperated with the bar’s investigation and corrected her trust account mistakes immediately.

CHARLES LUKE McKISSACK [#33526], 60, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years and until he makes restitution of $10,000 and until he has shown his fitness to practice law. The suspension was stayed, and he was placed on probation for two years on the condition that he is actually suspended for 120 days and provides proof of restitution. If the period of actual suspension continues for two years or longer, he will remain suspended until he has shown proof of his rehabilitation and fitness to practice.

He also was ordered to comply with other conditions of probation, pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order was effective Aug. 29, 1997.

In this default decision, McKissack was found culpable of abandoning a client. He failed to refund fees, deliver a requested accounting, return the client’s papers and participate in the bar’s investigation.

In 1994, McKissack was hired by a client seeking a writ of habeas corpus. The client was incarcerated in state prison as a result of his 1988 convictions on serious felony charges. McKissack had previously represented the client at sentencing and other post-trial proceedings.

The client paid McKissack $10,000 for his anticipated services in connection with filing the writ. Despite numerous attempts, neither the client nor the client’s brother were successful in communicating with McKissack.

In 1995, the client wrote to McKissack, terminating his services and demanding a full refund of the $10,000 advanced fee. The client never heard from McKissack.

In addition, the State Bar never received a response to a letter sent to McKissack outlining the client’s complaints. The letter was not returned as undeliverable.

McKissack has no prior record of discipline, but his misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing and caused significant harm to his client.

His failure to make restitution demonstrated indifference and his lack of cooperation with the State Bar was accorded moderate weight in aggravation.

JOSEPH C. PINTO [#97811], 44, of San Clemente was suspended for three years and until he has shown proof of his fitness to practice. The suspension was stayed, and he was placed on probation for three years, with 135 days of actual suspension and restitution. He also was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order was effective Aug. 29, 1997.

Pinto was hired by five clients to pursue separate civil actions rescinding investments they made in a limited partnership company.

At the time Pinto was hired by the clients, he knew that the statute of limitations on the rescission causes of action were about to expire.

He failed to file the lawsuits before the expiration date and neglected to inform the clients of his lack of action. The clients also were unsuccessful at numerous attempts to communicate with him.

As a further condition of disciplinary probation, Pinto was ordered to make all payments due to his clients, as stipulated in a civil judgment entered in an action against him in the Orange County Superior Court.

He must provide proof of payment of a total of $50,000 to his clients.

He also failed to promptly return unearned advanced attorney’s fees and the clients’ files and he failed to cooperate with the bar’s investigation.

In aggravation, Pinto’s misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing.

Pinto has no prior record of discipline, but no mitigating weight was accorded because his misconduct was considered serious.

JAMES JOSEPH BAJGROWICZ [#49253], 55, of Santa Rosa was suspended for two years and until he shows proof of his fitness to practice. The suspension was stayed and he was placed on two years probation, including 90 days actual suspension. He was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order was effective Sept. 3, 1997.

Bajgrowicz was hired by a 72-year-old childless widow to prepare an estate plan to provide for her current and future needs, secure the greatest tax benefits and to remember certain charities and friends.

However, Bajgrowicz set up a trust and will which presented several conflicts of interest potentially adverse to the client and beneficial to himself.

Upon the recommendation of her insurance agent, the client’s home was appraised, with an addendum noting the property’s potentially lucrative commercial and residential value. The appraised value of the home was $525,000.

To fund the trust set up by Bajgrowicz, the client sold the remainder interest in her home to him and the insurance agent, for its full appraised value.

Both men gave the client two promissory notes, secured by a deed of trust on the home. Both notes were not due until a year after the client died and no interest would accrue until her death, at which time the interest rate would be 10 percent per year.

The trust named Bajgrowicz’ wife, who was also his secretary, as successor trustee should the original trustee, a friend of the client’s, die before the client. Bajgrowicz arranged a similar plan for the client’s will.

Bajgrowicz’ wife would have been responsible for securing payment of the promissory notes if the original executrix of the will died before the client.

Bajgrowicz failed to disclose, in writing, serious potential adverse interests inherent in the transaction he structured for the client by nominating his wife as successor trustee and executrix.

He also did not advise the client, in writing, to seek independent counsel and he failed to communicate the significant consequences of the transaction he had structured for her.

By setting up an estate plan which was potentially advantageous to him, at the expense of his client, Bajgrowicz violated rule 3-300(a) of the Professional Rules of Conduct.

In aggravation, Bajgrowicz’ misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing.

The client also was harmed in that she had to retain counsel to rectify the damage done by Bajgrowicz and others. The situation was resolved by a compromise in which Bajgrowicz and his wife returned $3,000 in fees.

No mitigating weight was given to Bajgrowicz’ prior discipline-free record because his misconduct was deemed serious.

MICHAEL THERON HARPER [#98794], 47, of Newbury Park was suspended for six months, stayed, and placed on probation for two years, effective Sept. 3, 1997. He was ordered to pass the MPRE.

Harper’s misconduct involved issuing two bad checks, for $200 and $2,100 each, against earned attorney’s fees that remained in his client trust account.

One check was for payment of expert work on a case and the other was for a personal obligation. Harper miscalculated the balance in both instances, but rectified the situation by depositing additional funds into the account. He did not use client funds.

He failed to promptly take his earned attorney’s fees from his trust account and used the client trust account for his own personal purposes.

Harper’s prior discipline-free record was not considered a mitigating circumstance due to the serious nature of his misconduct.

However, his misconduct did not result in harm to the client and no client funds were misappropriated. In addition, he was remorseful, admitted his misconduct and cooperated with the bar’s investigation.

ROBERT T. SCHIRLE [#82799], 52, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for three years with 90 days actual suspension. He was ordered to pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order was effective Sept. 3, 1997.

Schirle was employed by a woman to represent her in a personal injury matter involving an auto accident. The case was dismissed when he failed to timely comply with discovery requests from the defendant’s attorney.

He failed to notify his client that her case was dismissed, did not respond to the client’s telephone calls and letters, and committed an act of moral turpitude when he sent the client a purported release agreement and $6,000 as partial payment of an $18,000 "settlement," for the case that had been dismissed.

Schirle also failed to cooperate with the State Bar by not providing requested information to bar investigators.

In aggravation, Schirle has a prior record of discipline. In 1993, he received a two-year stayed suspension, two years probation and 90 days of actual suspension. In 1990, he was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on two years probation. In 1988, he was publicly reproved.

Other aggravating circumstances included his misrepresentation of the status of his client’s case and misconduct which resulted in his client losing her cause of action.

In mitigation, Schirle attempted to partially compensate the client by giving her $6,000, although it was part of the misrepresentation that her case had settled.

Also considered in mitigation was the fact that Schirle’s current misconduct occurred almost seven years ago and during the same time period as the misconduct for which he was disciplined in a prior proceeding. No new complaints have been lodged since that time.

In addition, difficulties communicating with his client, a native of South Korea, contributed to his inability to provide timely discovery responses.

ROBERT J. SPEAS [#126360], 57, of Newport Beach was suspended for four years, stayed, and placed on five years of probation with a three-year actual suspension and until he proves rehabilitation and makes restitution to six individuals. He was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. Credit for the interim suspension which began Feb. 6, 1997, will be given. The order took effect Sept. 12, 1997.

Speas stipulated to misconduct in 11 consolidated cases involving 21 counts. He commingled personal and client funds when he paid an employee $7,000 by issuing four checks from his client trust accounts.

Several matters were mishandled as a result of Speas’ failure to properly supervise the staff in his Santa Ana office, where three employees accepted clients without telling Speas and misrepresented the status of cases to the clients.

In other matters, he failed to communicate with clients, did not pursue their cases, bounced a check to a client for her portion of settlement proceeds, misappropriated client funds, did not return unearned fees, and allowed the balance in his client trust account to drop below the required minimum.

A default was entered in a civil litigation matter Speas handled because he did not file an answer to the complaint. He never filed a motion to vacate the default, despite his client’s wishes, and ultimately a judgment of more than $15 million was entered against his client.

Speas also represented an attorney friend in a malicious prosecution case. When the matter came to trial, Speas told the court he also represented his client’s co-defendant, although he had never met the woman.

JOHN I. ALIOTO [#107722], 52, of San Francisco was suspended for 90 days, stayed, placed on one year of probation with an actual 15-day suspension, and was ord-ered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Sept. 13, 1997.

In an unusual stipulation, Alioto pleaded no contest to a series of facts and violations alleged by the State Bar, while at the same time denying that the facts are true and that he violated the statutes in question.

The case stems from an ongoing family dispute involving the Alioto Fish Co. John and Joseph M. Alioto (see next story), sons of former San Francisco Mayor Joseph L. Alioto, were litigants in the matter. A Marin County Superior Court awarded the fish company $141,341 in attorneys’ fees and $648.15 in costs, to be paid by Alioto and other co-defendants. The Aliotos claimed throughout that the Marin Superior Court did not have jurisdiction, but the courts have ruled against them on the issue. A receiver was appointed to help the fish company collect the award.

In the discipline case, John Alioto pleaded no contest to violating the superior court’s order to comply with three separate receiver orders. When sanctioned, he failed to report it to the bar.

In mitigation, he did not know about the reporting requirements. He cooperated fully in this matter.

In his stipulation, Alioto agreed to make "reasonable and good faith efforts" to comply with the Marin court orders, although he retained his right to challenge such orders.

He has no record of prior discipline.

JOSEPH M. ALIOTO [#42680], 54, of San Francisco was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on probation for one year. The order took effect Oct. 3, 1997. An order that he be actually suspended for 15 days was temporarily stayed pending a ruling on Alioto’s request for relief.

Like his brother, John I., Joseph Alioto pleaded no contest to violating three receiver orders and failing to report sanctions to the State Bar. However, he also denied the facts are true or that he violated the statutes in question.

Alioto partially complied with the Marin County order by providing records and paying $30,000 to the receiver.

He initially was unaware of the requirement to report sanctions to the bar and later was advised by counsel that he was not required to report the sanctions.

In mitigation, he fully cooperated in this matter and has performed various pro bono activities involving raising research funds and public awareness of paralysis.

Alioto agreed to "make reasonable and good faith efforts" to comply with the receiver orders but is not prohibited from challenging such orders.

[CALBAR JOURNAL]