California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 1998
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DISCIPLINE

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More than 162,290 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.

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SUSPENSIONS/PROBATION
CHARLES WILLIAM BRODIE [#35411], 60, of Palo Alto was suspended for five years, stayed, and was placed on five years of probation with an actual one-year suspension and until he proves his rehabilitation. He was ordered to comply with rule 955 of the California Rules of Court. Credit will be given for the period of interim suspension which began Nov. 26, 1997. The order took effect July 4, 1998.

Brodie was convicted of driving under the influence in 1997. He admitted a prior DUI conviction and a special allegation of a blood alcohol content of more than .20.

He has four prior DUI convictions, beginning in 1984, two convictions of driving on a suspended license, and a 1996 conviction of possession of cocaine. (The 1997 DUI occurred while Brodie was on a weekend release from a residential treatment program.)

He has been suspended from practice twice.

In mitigation, he agreed to discipline without a hearing.

STUART JOHN COLVILLE [#92561], 46, of Santa Barbara was suspended for five years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with a two-year actual suspension and until he proves his rehabilitation, and was ordered to take the MPRE. Credit toward the actual suspension will be given for an interim suspension which began March 5, 1997. The order took effect July 4, 1998.

Colville settled a case for his clients in which they were to receive almost $30,000. He received six checks from the defendants, endorsed them using his name and those of his clients, and deposited them in his client trust account.

Colville then misappropriated his clients' share of the settlement. He made restitution to the clients the day after he was charged with grand theft and forgery. He later pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of grand theft.

In mitigation, Colville suffered extreme marital problems which left him ill, emotionally stressed and in debt. He presented a wide range of references attesting to his good character.

PAUL NELSON DANE III [#99591], 46, of Martinez was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a requirement that he make restitution, and was ordered to pass the MPRE within one year. The order took effect July 4, 1998.

Dane stipulated that in six instances, he failed to communicate adequately with his clients, and in three cases, he failed to perform legal services competently. He also did not refund unearned advanced fees twice and failed to provide an accounting to one client.

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

IRA ENGLANDER [#25624], 70, of Marina Del Rey 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 July 4, 1998.

Englander was convicted in 1996 of one count of possession of a video gaming device on Indian land. The State Bar placed him on interim suspension last year, and found that the conviction did not amount to moral turpitude but did warrant discipline.

Englander was the manager of a southern California Indian casino operated by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. He contends his guilty plea was entered as a result of conduct he did not know was illegal.

He participated in the acquisition of 140 video gaming machines in the casino, which now has 1,700 machines. Englander was notified by the Riverside county sheriff's office that the machines were legal until further notice, and he also relied on other legal counsel who advised the machines were legal. In addition, the machines were widely advertised throughout California, always as a legal activity.

When Englander learned that law enforcement took a position that the machines were illegal, he advised the Morongo tribe, and another tribe which solicited his assistance, that he would not participate in acquiring more machines.

Englander has no record of discipline in 42 years, his conduct was unrelated to the practice of law, he received no personal financial gain from the video machine operations, and he has a history of charitable work involving Native Americans.

SUZANNE J. GOULET [#136561], 39, of Beverly Hills was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual 60-day suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect July 4, 1998.

Goulet stipulated to five instances of failing to perform legal services competently and communicate with clients, four instances of withdrawing from employment without protecting clients' interests, and failing to cooperate with the bar's investigation.

She also entered into a business transaction with a client without first obtaining the client's written consent and without informing the client of her right to obtain independent counsel.

In mitigation, Goulet suffers from depression brought on by marital problems, although her psychologist believes she has a favorable prognosis. She also has participated in numerous pro bono and community activities, including substantial involvement with the Los Angeles Jail Project.

Her misconduct was not due to any greed or dishonesty on her part.

RICHARD MICHAEL JACOBSMEYER [#66300], 48, of Walnut Creek was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a requirement that he make restitution, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect July 4, 1998.

Jacobsmeyer stipulated that he failed to obey a court order when he did not appear at a hearing as subpoenaed, and that he failed to cooperate with the State Bar's investigation.

The misconduct stemmed from his failure to pay his accountant's bill. When the accountant sued him in small claims court, Jacobsmeyer failed to show up for trial and a default judgment was entered against him.

He then failed to appear for examination and a bench warrant was issued against him.

At the time of the stipulation, Jacobs-meyer had not paid the accountant the money he owed.

Jacobsmeyer has been privately reproved twice and publicly reproved once.

In mitigation, he received three documents advising him of the court appearance, but because of conflicting dates, he was confused about the actual date of the appearance.

The probation of GORDON REY JOHNSTON [#53834], 60, of San Jose was revoked and he was ordered suspended for 305 days beginning July 4, 1998. He also was ordered to comply with rule 955.

Johnston was disciplined in 1997, and was placed on probation with conditions requiring that he submit quarterly probation reports. He did not file his first report, nor did he maintain a current address with the State Bar.

“It appears that the attempts to assist [Johnston] in pursuing his legal career, by staying the majority of the previously imposed suspension, have failed,” wrote the court. “Respondent has a record of prior discipline. Respondent has failed to comply with the terms of his probation and has failed to participate in this matter.”

He received credit for a 60-day suspension previously served.

DONALD J. SANDERS [#153933], 53, of Playa Del Rey was suspended for six months, stayed, placed on probation for one year with a 30-day actual suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect July 4, 1998.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that in a wrongful termination and ERISA lawsuit, Sanders failed to perform legal services competently, or promptly respond to reasonable status inquiries and advise the client of significant developments.

He also offered to pay his client money if the client would advise the State Bar that his complaints had been settled.

Sanders represented his client through trial, in which he prevailed on the ERISA claim but did not prevail on the wrongful termination cause of action. Costs were denied when Sanders did not act in a timely fashion.

He also made a motion for attorney's fees, but was awarded only a fraction of the amount sought. The fees were awarded to Sanders, not the client.

Sanders then filed a notice of appeal of both the judgment and the order awarding fees and denying costs, but because it was not filed in a timely manner, it was dismissed.

When Sanders eventually received a check for the fee award, he held it in his office.

When the client began writing to Sanders about the appeal, Sanders asked for more time to respond because he had been ill. The client complained to the bar.

Eventually, Sanders responded to the client's letters, and although he disputed the client's contention that Sanders owed him money, he offered to turn over almost $2,500 to the client if the client would notify the bar that “we have settled the problem.” That offer violated the Business & Professions Code, which precludes attorneys from conditioning settlement of client complaints on the withdrawal of State Bar charges.

The bar court noted that Sanders was “largely uncompensated for the time he had invested in [the] trial” and it found no violation of trust accounting rules.

The court considered in mitigation a series of illnesses that kept Sanders away from his office for much of 1996, resulting in his inattention to the case in question.

The probation of STEPHEN P. SHEPARD [#153619], 41, of Fountain Valley was revoked, the previous stay of suspension was lifted, and he was ordered actually suspended for 30 days. A new period of probation was imposed until April 28, 1999. The order took effect July 4, 1998.

In 1995, Shepard was given a stayed 30-day suspension and placed on 36 months of probation with requirements including compliance with criminal probation imposed as a result of a DUI conviction.

In 1997, he was arrested again for drunk driving.

EDWARD DEANE DONOVAN [#145981], 41, of West Hills was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a one-year actual suspension and until he proves his rehabilitation, and was ordered to comply with rule 955. The order took effect July 8, 1998.

Donovan was disciplined because he failed to submit six quarterly probation reports, as required in a prior discipline.

He was first suspended and placed on probation in 1995 following criminal convictions for driving under the influence, driving with a blood alcohol of .08 percent or more, and disorderly conduct while under the influence of alcohol.

The following year, he was again suspended and given additional probation for failing to promptly release client files in a case which was dismissed when the statute of limitations ran.

In addition to not filing probation reports, Donovan failed to provide proof of enrollment in a substance abuse program, attendance at thrice-weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, or a lab screening report showing abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

Donovan did not participate in the proceedings, and his default was entered.

There were no mitigating factors. Although Donovan sent a letter and purported late probation reports after his default was entered, they were not allowed into evidence because he did not move to vacate the default. In addition, the reports were incomplete because they provided no proof of lab tests or attendance at AA meetings.

Calling the reports “self-serving” and lacking in trustworthiness, the hearing judge wrote, “The court is left without any assurances that respondent is in control of his addiction.”

RICHARD ALAN ELDRIDGE [#103671], 43, of Sacramento was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on two years of probation. The order took effect July 8, 1998.

Eldridge provided legal services for a client in a divorce matter, but when the client stopped communicating with him, Eldridge did no further work. About five years later, even though the divorce was not final, he filed a formal notice that he was withdrawing as attorney of record, but he did not give his client due notice.

In another marital dissolution, he secured a retainer agreement by a promissory note and a deed of trust on his client's residence. The note contained the wrong date, which Eldridge said was a typographical error, in that it provided that the client would sell her home seven days after the note was signed.

The promissory note also provided that in the event it was not paid within five days of close of escrow on the residence, the client would pay annual interest of 21 percent.

Eldridge did not explain that when he recorded the deed of trust, he could initiate a non-judicial foreclosure proceeding.

By his conduct, he entered into an adverse business transaction with his client, with terms which were not fair and reasonable to the client.

In a third matter, Eldridge used an advanced fee for costs without depositing the money in his client trust account.

As part of a stipulated agreement with the bar, Eldridge agreed to forgive a small claims judgment he won against the first client for fees and costs, and he agreed that all non-attorneys in his office will refer to themselves as paralegals, legal assistants or certified law students, as applicable.

He also agreed to not enforce the promissory note or initiate a non-judicial foreclosure on the second client's home and to subject his fees to binding arbitration. If the arbitration is not completed within one year, Eldridge may enforce the terms of the promissory note, but the interest rate will be 10 percent.

Eldridge has a prior record of discipline, having received a public reproval in 1995 for two counts of failing to deposit advanced costs in a client trust account and two counts of failing to promptly refund the unearned portion of attorney's fees.

In mitigation, he did not foreclose on the promissory note and deed of trust, nor did he take any action to collect the small claims judgment against another client.

ROBERT G. FOYTACK [#98980], 47, of San Diego was suspended for four years, stayed, placed on four years of probation with an actual 30-month suspension and until he proves his rehabilitation, and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect July 8, 1998.

Foytack stipulated to 20 counts of misconduct in six consolidated cases.

In several matters, he bounced checks written on his client trust account, failed to promptly deposit settlement funds into the account or promptly pay out funds as directed by his clients. His gross negligence in handling his client trust account amounted to moral turpitude.

Foytack settled a personal injury matter, but failed to deposit settlement funds in his client trust account and did not repay an insurance provider for more than two years.

He substituted into three cases for another client, but then failed to appear at conferences, attend depositions, file briefs on time and reply to cost bills. His conduct amounted to failure to perform legal services competently.

He also did not return the client's file, refund a $2,000 advance fee or provide an accounting.

In two cases, he failed to cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In mitigation, Foytack has no prior record of discipline and no clients were harmed. He has performed volunteer legal work for the San Diego State University Legal Clinic, and he submitted a lengthy list of clients whom he has represented pro bono.

LAWRENCE EDMOND GREENBAUM [#97588], 46, of Los Angeles was suspended for 90 days, stayed, placed on one year of probation, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect July 8, 1998.

Greenbaum settled a personal injury matter for $8,000, but informed his client's chiropractor that the case settled for $6,500. He then negotiated a reduced medical payment based on the lower figure.

Greenbaum stipulated that his dishonest conduct constituted moral turpitude.

He then withheld payment of his client's medical bill for more than eight months, conduct which amounted to failure to perform legal services competently.

In mitigation, Greenbaum has never been disciplined, and he cooperated with the State Bar's investigation.

STANLEY ALLEN GRUMET [#95227], 52, of Pacifica was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on four years of probation with an actual two-year suspension and until he proves his rehabilitation, and was ordered to comply with rule 955. Credit for the actual suspension shall be given for a period of involuntary inactive enrollment which began Nov. 30, 1997. The order took effect July 8, 1998.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Grumet failed to file probation reports related to compliance with mental health, substance abuse and regulatory conditions.

Grumet was disciplined in 1994 following a conviction for stalking; he had delivered threatening materials to a former woman friend and her father.

At the time, he was suffering from a severe episode of manic depressive illness, which the parties stipulated led to his behavior.

Neither his illness nor his misconduct were related to substance abuse, and he was warned by a psychiatrist that he could not resume his recreational use of marijuana, because it is a mood destabilizer.

As part of his probation, Grumet was required to enroll in a substance abuse program, abstain from nonprescription drugs and alcohol, submit to random drug and alcohol screening, obtain twice-monthly psychiatric treatment, and file quarterly probation reports.

He missed one set of quarterly reports in 1997 and failed a drug test.

The State Bar sought to disbar Grumet, arguing that he was not amenable to rehabilitation and that his behavior was not controlled by probation monitoring.

The court disagreed, noting that although he “may have wavered in his commitment to a drug-free state,” Grumet's psychiatrist is not willing to give up on him.

Instead, it recommended a two-year suspension and the appointment of a probation monitor.

DAVID LEE KARLSON [#52516], 52, of Rancho Cucamonga was suspended for six months, stayed, and placed on two years of probation. The order took effect July 8, 1998.

In 1995, Karlson disciplined for misconduct in six different matters, including failure to communicate with clients, promptly refund unearned fees, or competently perform legal services, improper withdrawal from representation and working in an area of law in which he was insufficiently trained.

He was suspended and placed on probation with conditions including quarterly probation reports and completion of three hours of MCLE ethics training. He filed two reports late and has not completed the MCLE course.

In another matter, he did not respond to an inquiry from the State Bar following a client complaint. He stipulated that he failed to cooperate with a bar investigation.