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Lawyers Professional Liability Insurance Program 
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CAUTION!!

Nearly 161,090 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.


Suspension/Probation

SUZANNE LOUISE HARRIS [#45303], 52, of Johnstown, Colo., was suspended for four years, stayed, and placed on probation for four years with an actual suspension of three years and requirements that she prove her rehabilitation, make restitution, and pass the MPRE. The order took effect March 12, 1998.

In an agreement that consolidated three matters, Harris stipulated that she failed to perform legal services competently in a wrongful death case, failed to properly maintain her client trust account, and violated the terms of two earlier disciplinary probations.

In the wrongful death action, Harris negotiated a structured settlement for her client, but did not file the required minor's compromise with the court, open a blocked account for receipt of the annuity payments, or cash or distribute her client's annuity checks.

Harris was given a stayed suspension and five years of probation in 1995, but did not attend ethics school as required. She received a similar discipline in 1993, but failed to make monthly restitution payments.

In mitigation, Harris suffered serious financial difficulties which prevented her from making restitution payments or attending ethics school.

DEREK ALDEN NGUYEN [#163138], 31, of Mill Creek, Wash., was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on two years of probation with an actual one-year suspension and requirements that he make restitution, prove his rehabilitation, take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect March 29, 1998.

In a stipulated agreement, Nguyen admitted misappropriating $12,000 in settlement proceeds in a personal injury case after he forged the client's signature on the settlement check. The client's share of the settlement was $8,000.

In mitigation, Nguyen suffers from serious emotional problems for which he sought professional treatment.

TRACY D. BEALL [#161168], 34, of Carmel was suspended for 30 days, stayed, placed on one year of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect March 29, 1998.

Beall stipulated that she represented a client in a criminal matter while she was suspended for non-payment of bar dues.

Her actions did not harm her client, and no aggravating circumstances were involved.

MARCY ELLEN KAYE [#140795], 43, of San Diego was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual five-month suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect March 29, 1998. Credit toward the actual suspension was given for an interim suspension which ended June 12, 1997.

The discipline arose from a criminal conviction referral after Kaye was convicted in 1996 of unlawfully soliciting clients in an insurance fraud.

In a sting operation, Kaye paid two undercover investigators, who were posing as cappers, $500 apiece for each of six phony client referrals to her. She also introduced to the investigators two doctors who were willing to buy personal injury cases.

Kaye was charged with 13 counts of procuring or referring clients in violation of the Insurance Code. She pleaded guilty to one count and the remaining counts were dismissed.

In mitigation, Kaye demonstrated remorse, participated in several community service activities, and submitted to the court several letters attesting to her good character. Her actions harmed no clients, she has no record of prior discipline, and she cooperated with the bar's investigation.

R. SCOTT FERRIS [#101672], 42, of Hemet was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual suspension of 120 days, and was ordered to take the MPRE within two years and comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 4, 1998.

Ferris stipulated to five counts of misconduct.

In a civil case, Ferris repeatedly failed to perform legal services competently or communicate with his clients. He did not respond to discovery requests and sanctions were imposed against his clients. Terminating sanctions were imposed for failure to comply with court-ordered discovery, resulting in the loss of the suit. Fees and costs were assessed in excess of $25,000.

In a personal injury case, he misappropriated funds from a client, and did not pay a medical lien in another. He also did not keep his membership address current with the State Bar.

In mitigation, Ferris had no record of prior discipline, and was suffering severe family problems and financial stress at the time of his misconduct.

ARTHUR HOW FONG [#80048], 51, of Los Angeles was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual 90-day suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and to comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 4, 1998.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Fong commingled personal and client funds in his client trust account. He wrote 36 personal checks for more than $5,400 from the account.

Fong practiced for 16 years without any discipline, and the commingling did not harm any clients.

WILLIAM LITTELL BRYAN JR. [#117084], 45, of Foothill Ranch was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect April 4, 1998.

Bryan represented three clients in a malicious prosecution case. When he failed to appear at four court hearings, he and his clients were sanctioned, and the case was dismissed.

He stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently, keep his clients reasonably informed about developments in a case, communicate, return files, pay sanctions and obey court orders.

Bryan filed a damages claim in another case. He then stopped working on the case but did not properly withdraw from employment. When he failed to prosecute the case, it was dismissed. He did not appear at an evaluation conference and no defendants were served with the complaint.

Bryan also stipulated that he advertised as an attorney in a false and deceptive manner by listing himself and a retired attorney as purported partners, although he had no professional association with her.

In mitigation, he has no record of prior discipline, and suffered from manic depression and substance abuse. His illness is now under control and he is sober.

SUSAN L. MESKO [#156763], 39, of El Segundo was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a one-year actual suspension, and was ordered to make restitution to five clients. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, she must prove her rehabilitation before resuming practice. She also was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 4, 1998.

Mesko failed to pursue a client's personal injury claim, and then moved her office and disconnected her phone without notifying the client. She stipulated that she failed to perform legal services competently, keep a client informed about her case, return client papers and property, and misrepresented the status of the case.

In another matter, Mesko was hired to handle both a bankruptcy filing and a modification of a child and spousal support order. She told her client she had filed both cases, when in fact she had not. After being fired, she filed actions in both matters without the client's authorization.

Mesko did not return unearned fees or the client's files upon request. For several months in 1995, she practiced law while suspended.

In four other similar cases, Mesko did not perform legal services competently, communicate with her clients, respond to their status inquiries or return their files or unearned fees. In a bankruptcy matter, her client had foreclosures on two pieces of property that were subject to the bankruptcy, which was dismissed for lack of documentation.

Mesko withdrew from employment without notice to the client and without taking reasonable measures to protect the client's property.

Mesko failed to cooperate with the bar's investigation of several matters.

There was no mitigation.

STEVEN LEON ELLMAN [#135658], 37, of Irvine was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on probation for two years with a six-month actual suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 4, 1998.

Ellman stipulated to misconduct in two personal injury matters.

In the first, he received two settlement checks for his client, but deposited them in his general account instead of his client trust account, failed to notify his clients of his receipt of the checks, and eventually paid the clients 10 months later.

In the second case, he represented a woman who was injured while driving her fiance's car. In his demand letter to the insurer, Ellman misstated that he also represented the fiance.

He was fired by the woman, but not before he had negotiated a settlement for damage to the car. He received and cashed a check made out to the fiance, whose signature he forged.

When the insurance company demanded reimbursement after learning Ellman was no longer the attorney of record, he repaid less than half the amount, keeping the remainder as his fee, even though he never represented the fiance. He refunded the full amount only after a State Bar inquiry.

By his conduct, Ellman represented the legal interests of a party who was not his client and committed acts of moral turpitude.

In mitigation, Ellman cooperated with the bar's investigation, which determined that the deposit of checks into his general account in the first case was inadvertent. In the second case, because of the relationship between his client and her fiance, he thought he was authorized to negotiate settlement drafts for the fiance, and he notified the fiance as soon as he received the settlement.

He opened a new client trust account which is administered by a certified public accountant.

Ellman was privately reproved in 1993.

SHAUN O. ALLICOCK [#147000], 36, of San Jose was suspended for three years, stayed, and placed on three years of probation with an actual 18-month suspension and until he makes restitution to three clients. He also was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 11, 1998.

Allicock stipulated that he mishandled his client trust account by failing to deposit full amounts of settlement checks, commingling personal and client funds, misappropriating client funds and failing to keep proper records.

He also admitted to four counts of failing to perform legal services competently.

Allicock dismissed a racial discrimination case filed on behalf of a client in federal court, promising to re-file it in state court. He did not return 17 phone calls from the client and never re-filed the matter.

However, he persuaded the client to agree to loan him $10,000 to help buy a bulldozer for a gold-mining operation in Guyana. In exchange for the loan, the client would receive either a one-sixth interest in the bulldozer or a share of the lease agreement on the mine and partnership.

Allicock borrowed an additional $7,000 from the client and caused him to incur about $1,500 in cellular phone charges. Allicock signed a note agreeing to pay the client $8,500.

In neither of these business transactions did Allicock advise the client in writing that he could seek independent counsel.

He did not pay a medical lien for one client in a personal injury case. In an insurance dispute he handled for another client, he failed to finalize the settlement for two and a half years.

Allicock cooperated with the bar's investigation.

ROBERT THOMAS MATTHEWS [#104112], 44, of Huntington Beach was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on two years of probation with an actual six-month suspension. Credit toward the actual suspension shall be given for an interim suspension which began Jan. 30, 1997. The order took effect April 11, 1998.

After a 1996 trial, Matthews was convicted of attempted possession of a controlled substance (cocaine). An appeal of the conviction is pending.

Matthews also was disciplined in 1996 after he pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance. In that case, he bought a $20 rock of cocaine from an undercover officer in Santa Ana.

Matthews displayed cooperation and demonstrated remorse, is in AA and receives psychological counseling.

ALEX J. HAN-UNG KIM [#141071], 36, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a six-month actual suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 11, 1998.

Kim stipulated that in a personal injury matter, he failed to maintain settlement funds in a client trust account, maintain complete records of client funds, perform legal services competently, and promptly pay funds to a client. He also misappropriated his client's share of settlement money and wrote five checks against insufficient funds in the client trust account.

In a second matter, he allowed the balance of his trust account to fall below the required amount three times, wrote a bad check and failed to properly maintain the client trust account.

Kim has no record of prior discipline.

JEREMIAH J. LEAHY [#101692], 47, of Santa Maria was suspended for one year and ordered to comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 11, 1998.

Leahy was disciplined in 1995 pursuant to convictions for driving while under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine, driving with a suspended and revoked license, and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

He was placed on disciplinary probation, but failed to submit to drug testing or keep his address current with the bar.

Leahy was disciplined twice previously, once in 1995 for convictions for DUI and using a controlled substance, and then for violating probation in that case.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar's investigation and submitted to drug testing, which was negative.

DAVID MORAN HARNEY [#20281], 74, of Los Angeles was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a requirement that he make restitution, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect April 11, 1998.

Harney was disciplined for collecting excessive fees in a medical malpractice case, an offense for which he was disciplined twice previously.

In this matter, he settled a case for clients whose son suffered injuries at birth. The malpractice case against the hospital settled for $850,000, from which Harney took $212,500 in fees, exceeding limits imposed by MICRA by more than $57,000.

The clients also settled with a medical group for $500,000, from which Harney collected $125,000 in fees, exceeding MICRA restrictions by $31,996.66.

The clients sued Harney when he did not refund the excess fees promptly; the court ordered him to return the excess fees plus interest. As part of his stipulation with the bar, Harney agreed to pay back to the clients $200,000 plus interest in restitution.

Harney's discipline in this case also included a probation violation.

Harney was publicly reproved in 1990 for collecting $108,333 in fees in excess of MICRA limits, and he was suspended and placed on probation in 1996 for taking a fee that exceeded MICRA limits by $266,850.

As part of his probation, he was required to submit quarterly reports; he failed to submit three reports on time.

In another case, Harney was hired to handle a wrongful death matter. In the retainer agreement, the parties agreed that Harney would personally try the case if it went to trial.

Subsequently, the case was set for trial but Harney said he was not available, even though he had several months notice. Believing a motion for continuance would fail, the client authorized a settlement of $98,500 but disputed Harney's fee.

When Harney distributed the settlement to the family, he removed the full amount of fees claimed from his client trust account. The fee dispute was resolved six months later and Harney returned the disputed amount. However, during that time, he allowed the balance in his client trust account to fall below the required amount.

In mitigation, Harney believed the MICRA fee limits were unconstitutional but has agreed to abide by them in the future. He was unaware of the requirement that he keep disputed attorney fees in his client trust account. He also has made arrangements to insure that his probation reports are submitted on time.

PAUL YANEZ [#100492], 45, of Modesto was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual 60-day suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect April 11, 1998.

In a default matter, the State Bar Court found that Yanez failed to perform legal services for two clients or return their phone calls, and failed to cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In the first matter, Yanez was hired to represent a client who was injured when the garage door in her apartment fell on her. The landlord ordered her to move when he learned of the accident, and she called Yanez for advice.

Repeated telephone calls to Yanez were unsuccessful, so the client consulted another attorney, who suggested she check court records to determine if a complaint was filed. No complaint had been filed.

Yanez contacted the client within a week and offered to settle her case for $1,500 without mentioning her medical bills. She agreed to settle and used the money to pay her medical costs. The bills exceeded $1,500, however, and the woman's credit record was damaged.

In the second case, Yanez was hired to help a client obtain title to property owned by her deceased ex-husband, which she wished to convey to their children. For more than a year, Yanez did not answer her calls or letters.

Although the woman and her children executed an order Yanez prepared, he never filed it with the court.

In mitigation, Yanez has no record of discipline since his 1981 admission to the bar.

ROBERT TROY CARON [#114063], 40, of Oxnard was suspended for 60 days, stayed, and placed on one year of probation. The discipline begins consecutive to a discipline order which began in June 1997. The order took effect April 16, 1998.

In 1995, Caron became a sports agent and sole proprietor of Pro Manage, a sports agency representing professional athletes. His promotional efforts included the distribution of prepaid telephone calling cards. Because he did not properly supervise his employees, some of the calling cards were given to college football players in violation of NCAA regulations.

As a result, three athletes and one school were investigated for accepting illegal benefits, the students were suspended, and the school was threatened with the loss of Rose Bowl privileges.

When Caron paid the school $50,000 to resolve the civil dispute he caused, the school was restored to good standing in the Pac-10 and the athletes were reinstated in collegiate sports.

Caron also was disciplined last year for failing to properly maintain his client trust account and for failing to exercise due diligence in resolving a question of payment of medical expenses.

In mitigation, Caron acknowledged that as a new sports agent, he was naive and ignorant of the duties of a registered sports agent, particularly the impropriety of giving anything of value to an amateur athlete. He has donated personal funds and volunteer hours to local sports programs over the years.

As a result of his activities as a sports agent, he was suspended for one year from the National Football League Players Association and must pay a $5,000 reinstatement fine should he elect to remain a member.

LEO FASEN [#53023], 51, of Beverly Hills was suspended for three months, stayed, and placed on a year of probation consecutive to that imposed in a 1995 case. The order took effect April 16, 1998.

Fasen stipulated to misconduct in two matters.

In a slip and fall case he accepted on a contingency basis, Fasen failed to file a claim with a municipal agency within the required six months, filed a lawsuit court without meeting the claim requirement, and failed to comply with the court's delay reduction rules by not effect-ing service of the complaint. He substituted out of the case without protecting his client's interests and without informing her of the defects in the lawsuit.

Fasen failed to perform legal services in another case in which he represented the victim of an auto accident who was in a coma. Fasen settled the case for $15,000 and distributed the settlement proceeds to his client without honoring a medical lien.

Fasen was disciplined in 1995 for commingling trust funds and for failing to supervise the distribution of settlement funds, which resulted in misappropriation of client funds.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar's investigation.

PAUL EUGENE GROFF [#57176], 55, of Long Beach was suspended for 90 days, stayed, placed on probation for 18 months, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect April 18, 1998.

Groff was hired to prepare state and federal death tax returns for the estate of a client's deceased aunt. Groff did the necessary work, but when documents were sent to the client, one form (a California State Inheritance Tax form) was not received with the other materials. There was conflicting evidence as to whether the form was ever received.

Groff stipulated that he failed to adequately supervise his staff in finalizing the preparation and mailing of the state death tax return, and as a result failed to perform legal services competently.

After a fee dispute arose between Groff and his client, she hired a new attorney, who requested that Groff send records including a copy of the state tax return for the estate. Groff did not provide the tax return.

The client later received a state tax deficiency notice pertaining to her aunt's estate. As a result, Groff was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $17,000 to the client.

In mitigation, Groff has not been disciplined since his 1973 admission to the bar.

FRANKLIN HARRIS [#40493], 79, of Fremont was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect April 16, 1998.

Harris stipulated that in a personal injury case, the one-year statute of limitations expired before he filed a complaint. He did not discover that failure until two years after the statute had run, and notified his client at that time that he missed the deadline. Harris also commingled monies from his client trust account and his general account.

In mitigation, Harris paid some of his client's medical bills with his own money. After he told the client about the missed deadline, he paid her $5,000, although she later sued him and won a stipulated judgment to malpractice.

Harris was privately reproved in 1977.

DANIEL RAY BACON [#103866], 45, of San Francisco was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual 60-day suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect April 16, 1998.

After representing a client in a wrongful termination case for two and a half years, Bacon was fired by the client, who asked for a refund of $900 he had paid to Bacon as advance costs for an arbitrator. The client discharged Bacon after being asked to pay additional fees for continued representation. When Bacon refused to refund the money, the client took the matter to small claims court and obtained a judgment against Bacon.

Two days after the award, Bacon removed the $900 from his client trust account and applied it to attorney's fees and costs in the wrongful termination case. He also appealed the small claims judgment in superior court. On appeal, the court ordered Bacon to pay the client $1,500 plus costs and interest. Bacon paid the judgment after the State Bar was contacted.

He stipulated that he failed to return a client's advance costs on request and that he committed an act of moral turpitude when he converted those funds to pay his legal fees and costs.

In mitigation, Bacon cooperated with the bar's investigation and submitted a wide variety of character references.

ROBERT S. ROBERTSON [#112463], 39, of San Clemente was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on one year of probation with an actual six-month suspension. The periods of suspension and probation shall be consecutive to a discipline order which began May 17, 1997. The order took effect April 16, 1998.

In a default matter, the State Bar Court found that Robertson failed to return a client's file after his employment was terminated in a civil case. For two months, his ex-client's new attorney placed 32 phone calls and faxes to Robertson seeking return of the file. Robertson never responded.

Even after the superior court ordered the return of the file, he still did not comply.

A letter of inquiry about the matter sent to Robertson by the State Bar was returned as undeliverable and he was enrolled inactive in 1996 for failing to pay bar dues.

Robertson also was disciplined last year for failing to perform legal services competently, commingling funds and failing to notify a client of receipt of funds.

He resigned from the bar in May.

KEITH G. LIGGINS [#124055], 41, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for three years with a 90-day actual suspension and until he proves rehabilitation and makes restitution. He also was ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect April 19, 1998.

Liggins stipulated to misconduct in 12 consolidated cases, most involving failure to perform legal services competently, communicate with clients, respond to clients' status requests, refund unearned fees, return files and pay sanctions.

Four cases were dismissed due to his failure to perform services competently.

Typical of Liggins' misconduct was the case of a doctor who hired him to represent her in a lawsuit for defective real property she had purchased. The doctor paid Liggins $2,000 in advance fees and agreed to pay him a contingency fee as well.

After filing suit against five defendants, Liggins did little substantive work. He did not respond to discovery requests despite time extensions, failed to timely oppose motions by the defendants, did not appear at hearings, and was sanctioned by the court three times. The case was dismissed and a motion to set aside the dismissal was denied.

Liggins never advised the client that the court had imposed sanctions three times or that the case was dismissed.

When she fired Liggins and demanded the return of her files and a refund of her fees, he never responded.

In mitigation, Liggins took on too many cases, many of which were contingency cases or were underfinanced. As a result, he encountered financial problems and had to reduce his staff, which led to communications and calendaring problems. He has narrowed his practice, takes fewer cases and has implemented office procedures to avoid his earlier problems.

He agreed to make restitution to parties in seven different matters.

RICHARD SAAVEDRA [#54473], 57, of Huntington Beach was suspended for six months, stayed, and placed on two years of probation with a 60-day actual suspension and until he makes restitution and returns documents. If the actual suspension exceeds 90 days, he must comply with rule 955. If it exceeds two years, he must prove rehabilitation. He also was ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect April 19, 1998.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that in one case, Saavedra failed to keep clients informed about the status of their case, perform legal services competently and cooperate with the bar's investigation. In another matter, he failed to surrender clients' documents and communicate with clients.

In the first case, Saavedra was hired by a couple to prepare a variety of documents, including wills, a revocable living trust and durable powers of attorney. He did so, but when the clients requested corrections, he did not respond, and he returned only one of many phone calls.

Saavedra prepared a family trust, wills and other related documents in the second matter, but when the clients requested the return of original documents, he never did so. The clients called him numerous times and sent six letters, but Saavedra did not respond.

In mitigation, Saavedra has not been disciplined since his 1972 admission to the bar.

ROBERT CLIFFORD CANNON [#97471], 53, of Beverly Hills was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect April 25, 1998.

In a default hearing, the bar court determined that during the course of his representation of clients in a civil matter, Cannon failed to pay sanctions, honor abstracts of judgment and appear for a debtor's examination.

He was sanctioned twice when he failed to respond to discovery requests.

Cannon was on disciplinary probation in 1993 for failure to adequately represent and communicate with clients in four matters.

BASIL E. CLARK [#129154], 40, of Beverly Hills was suspended for five years, stayed, and placed on five years of probation with an actual four-year suspension and until he makes restitution to eight parties and proves his rehabilitation. He also was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 25, 1998.

Clark was disciplined in 1996 and ordered to comply with rule 955 by submitting an affidavit to the Supreme Court stating that he had notified all clients and other pertinent parties of his suspension from practice. He did not submit the affidavit because he had stopped practicing and had no clients to notify. He stipulated that he failed to comply with rule 955.

In a personal injury case, he did not properly supervise his staff and someone acting on his behalf endorsed a settlement check made out to a hospital and Clark's client. To enforce an outstanding medical lien, the hospital sued the insurance company, which cross-complained against Clark and his client. The suit was dismissed when Clark paid the medical lien.

In several personal injury cases, Clark failed to pay medical liens and maintain entrusted funds in his client trust account. He also settled a case, receiving settlement funds without informing his client, misappropriated funds, wrote a check on a closed bank account, and failed to properly maintain his client trust fund.

While assisting two clients to avoid foreclosure on several buildings, Clark introduced them to his brother-in-law as a potential buyer. He also introduced the client's real estate partnership to a Nevada corporation whose only shareholder was Clark's brother. Clark did not inform the clients about his relationships, nor did he disclose his brother-in-law's financial problems, which made his involvement in the transaction risky.

Three pieces of property were transferred to the Nevada corporation, which then filed for bankruptcy. Clark's clients sued him, his brother and brother-in-law. Clark defaulted, agreed to pay the clients an $8,000 settlement, and defaulted on the settlement.

In mitigation, Clark cooperated with the bar's investigation, and suffered from severe financial stress and family problems.

HOWARD GEORGE JOHNSON [#86181], 58, of Los Angeles was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a 90-day actual suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 25, 1998.

Johnson sought review of his matter by the Supreme Court but was denied.

The State Bar Court found that in two client matters, Johnson failed to communicate with clients or perform legal services competently. Johnson requested review by the bar court's review department, which upheld the hearing judge and increased the level of discipline after finding additional aggravating circumstances.

In the first matter, Johnson failed to file suit within the required time after two municipal agencies denied claims he made for his clients' personal injury and property damage. He did not return numerous phone calls from his clients, moved his office without telling them, and did not notify them their claims had been denied.

The clients each won a small claims judgment of $3,500 against Johnson, but he never honored the judgment.

In an unlawful detainer case, Johnson failed to appear in court to represent his client despite assurances that he would be present. He also failed to supervise his office staff, which filed an answer identifying the client as in propria persona.

In seeking review, Johnson asserted that the State Bar Court is unconstitutional, an argument dismissed by both the federal district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

He also claimed that he was denied a fair trial because the judge was biased and physically disabled. The review department rejected both arguments.

It found that Johnson's misconduct involved multiple acts and significant harm to clients, that he failed to cooperate in the disciplinary proceeding, and that he failed to understand his misconduct and demonstrated indifference toward atonement.

In mitigation, he practiced law for 12 years without any discipline. However, the Review Department found additional aggravating factors not considered by the hearing judge and increased the disciplinary recommendation to include additional probation time and actual suspension.

DAVID LYNN [#73718], 50, of Los Angeles was suspended for 60 days, stayed, placed on one year of probation, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect April 25, 1998.

Lynn stipulated to improper withdrawal from three cases.

In the first, he substituted into a case representing the plaintiff. The Superior Court issued a notice of intent to dismiss. Although the court's records show that Lynn was notified, he contends he never received notice of the hearing and missed it. The case was dismissed for lack of prosecution.

Lynn was not notified of the dismissal, which the client learned about on his own eight months later.

Still unaware of the dismissal, Lynn filed a motion to be relieved as counsel, which the court ultimately ruled was moot.

In two other cases, he filed a notice of disqualification because he was suspended from practice, but he failed to file a substitution of attorney form.

Lynn was disciplined in 1993 for failures to perform and communicate with clients and mishandling his client trust account. He violated the conditions of his probation by not filing two quarterly reports or reports from a certified public accountant.

In mitigation, the instant misconduct occurred at the same time as the earlier discipline, and was attributed to Lynn's heavy caseload. He has since reorganized his office and instituted corrective measures. In addition, his mother and grandfather died during this period of time, causing him extreme emotional distress.

JOSEPH HENRY MARMAN [#129517], 42, of Citrus Heights was suspended for 14 days, stayed, and placed on one year of probation. The order took effect April 25, 1998.

Marman practiced law while suspended in 1995.

As part of his probation in that matter, he was ordered to make restitution to nine parties over a four-year period. He submitted proof of restitution for three payments and claimed he made seven additional payments, but did not submit satisfactory proof. He indicated he was financially unable to continue making the payments.

Marman cooperated with the bar's investigation and harmed no clients by his misconduct.

The 1995 discipline was the result of client trust account violations and failing to properly supervise his staff.

The probation of DARNEL A. PARKER [#135739], 37, of Indio was revoked and the stay of suspension lifted, and he was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on three years of probation with a 90-day actual suspension. He was ordered to comply with rule 955. The order took effect April 25, 1998.

Parker was given a one-year stayed suspension and placed on two years of probation with a 30-day actual suspension in 1995 after he pleaded no contest to giving false identification to a police officer, a DUI, and driving without a license.

As part of his probation, he was required to submit quarterly reports to the bar. He has submitted none.

RONI ROTHOLZ [#92448], 51, of Walnut Creek was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 60-day actual suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect April 28, 1998.

Rotholz stipulated that he commingled personal and client funds in his client trust account, writing 16 personal checks on that account in 1994.

He failed to file lawsuits in two personal injury cases, and in one of the matters, failed to communicate with his client or turn over all client file materials to the new lawyer. He also failed to pursue a medical malpractice case or communicate with his client.

In mitigation, Rotholz submitted character references, demonstrated remorse, cooperated with the bar's investigation and had no discipline since his admission to the bar in 1980.

STEPHEN LESLIE WHEELER [#39466], 56, of Fallbrook was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 30-day actual suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect April 25, 1998.

In 1993, Wheeler represented a client in a foreclosure case in which an arbitrator ruled against her. The client filed a malpractice suit against Wheeler and her new attorney made numerous requests that Wheeler return the client file. He produced a partial file but only produced all the documents after the new attorney won a motion for sanctions.

Wheeler stipulated that he failed to return client files promptly and that he failed to perform legal services by not promptly returning client papers. He also did not pay sanctions within the required 10 days.

Wheeler has a record of three prior disciplinary matters. He was disciplined in 1996, but failed to comply with probation conditions: he did not submit two quarterly reports, two reports from a CPA, or a law office management plan, and he did not maintain membership in the bar's law practice management section.

The 1996 discipline was the result of failing to perform legal services competently and failing to respond to one client's case status inquiries.

Wheeler was publicly reproved in 1992 and disciplined in 1994 for not complying with the conditions of the reproval.

JEFFREY JOHN WIEBE [#147834], 35, of Alameda was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with conditions including restitution and a 90-day actual suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 955. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect April 25, 1998.

Wiebe stipulated that he commingled client and personal funds in his client trust account, failed to promptly release client funds, and failed to advise a client to seek independent legal advice before entering into a financial agreement with him.

Wiebe's discipline resulted from his representation of a minor in a personal injury matter. He settled the case for $35,000, deposited the money in his client trust account, and wrote 19 checks totalling more than $14,000 for personal or other unrelated business. He failed to maintain the required amount of funds in trust.

Wiebe issued a $17,290 check to the client, to be held in trust until she turned 18. It bounced. Wiebe paid part of the sum and prepared a promissory note to pay off most of the balance. He did not advise the client to consult another attorney before signing the note.

In addition, he applied the remainder of the money he owed his client as attorney's fees for another case he handled for her. When the client objected and demanded a refund, he did not return the funds.

In another matter, Wiebe stipulated that he used a client trust account for non-trust purposes, wrote several bad checks and failed to withdraw attorney's fees at the earliest reasonable time.

In mitigation, Wiebe cooperated with the bar's investigation and provided character references.

Interim Suspension

MICHAEL PATRICK CASTELLANETA [#149363], 35, of San Diego was placed on interim suspension April 14, 1998, following a conviction on one count of cultivating marijuana. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.

PATRICK HUGH HUTCHINSON [#50799], 55, of Santa Rosa was placed on interim suspension April 16, 1998, following his conviction on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and criminal forfeiture. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.

DENNIS ANGELO JEBBIA [#100945], 43, of San Marino was placed on interim suspension April 29, 1998, following a federal conviction on seven counts of making false statements to a financial institution. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.

CLIFFORD RALPH WEBER [#67960], 50, of Pacific Palisades was placed on interim suspension April 29, 1998, following federal convictions for mail fraud and helping to file a false income tax return. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.

STUART K. LESANSKY [#120826], 46, of Pasadena was placed on interim suspension April 30, 1998, following a conviction for an attempted lewd act on a child. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.

Suspension/Failure to Pass PRE

MICHAEL BENSON SPIZER [#35211], 60, of Los Angeles (April 3, 1998)

EUGENIO PEGUERO JR. [#109822], 40, of Huntington Park (April 5, 1998)

Public Reproval

STEPHEN L. BURTON [#113748], 43, of Sherman Oaks (Jan. 3, 1998)

STEPHEN CHAMBERLAIN POSTHUMA [#55157], 51, of Santa Barbara (Feb. 14, 1998)

ABDUL MALIK DANTALA FREEMAN [#150722], 44, of Los Angeles (March 13, 1998)

[CALBAR JOURNAL]