California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - MAY 1999
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - May 1999
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News
Lending compassion to a difficult situation
Legal specialist exam set Aug. 29
Board to meet June 25-26
Domestic violence group seeking volunteers
Northern California legal services board to fill five vacancies
Court statistics report now available on CD
For Y2K advice, link through bar's web site
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Trials Digest
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Opinion
Hear the cries this time
A single letter, a big increase
Train time at the ABA
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From the President - Door to justice must be open
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Letters to the Editor
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Legal Tech - Litigation library great for attorneys out of office
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New Products & Services
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MCLE Self-Study
The Disabled Practitioner
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - What to do when a client goes missing
Attorney charged with exposing clients to deportation
Attorney Discipline
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Public Comment

DISCIPLINE

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CAUTION!
More than 165,870 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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DISBARMENTS
JOHN HOWARD YOUNG [#63273], 50, of Fortuna was disbarred Sept. 10, 1998, and was ordered to comply with rule 955 of the California Rules of Court.

In a default proceeding, Young was disbarred for failing to comply with an earlier rule 955 requirement that he notify all opposing counsel, courts and other interested parties that he was suspended from practice. He also was required to submit an affidavit to the Supreme Court attesting to his compliance.

Young was given a stayed four year suspension in 1997, placed on four years of probation with a two-year actual suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation. His misconduct involved commingling and misappropriating trust funds by using other clients' trust funds to pay another client's obligation. He also allowed his trust account to be overdrawn.

At that time, Young was on a two-year probation following a 1992 conviction for carrying a concealed weapon without a license. He was admitted to a drug diversion program in Humboldt County as part of his criminal sentence.

However, he did not comply with the conditions of his disciplinary probation, and that non-compliance was a factor in the 1997 discipline order.

"The court is unaware of any facts or circumstances that would justify departure from the usual sanction of disbarment for (Young's) wilful violation of rule 955," wrote State Bar Court Judge Eugene E. Brott.

MICHAEL KEVIN MALONEY [#120008] 38, of Santa Ana was summarily disbarred Sept. 10, 1998. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.

Maloney was convicted in 1997 of two counts of grand theft after he took money meant for the expansion of a school for troubled boys. His conviction meets the two criteria for summary disbarment: He was convicted of a felony and the crimes involved moral turpitude.

Maloney was president of the board of the Sierra Boys Ranch in Placerville when he came under suspicion for stealing nearly $700,000 from the school. About $70,000 had been earmarked for expansion, and the remainder came from eight forged loan applications at banks in five communities, according to police.

Maloney pleaded guilty in Orange County Superior Court to taking about $200,000 total from Commerce Bank and California United Bank. Judge Margaret R. Anderson sentenced him to two years in state prison and ordered him to make restitution of $100,000 to each bank.

Ranch officials said in 1996 that Maloney fled to Costa Rica and left them liable for about $700,000 in loans. He was arrested in North Hollywood in 1997.

The ranch serves emotionally disturbed boys, and officials had hoped to add another group home for about six youngsters with the money Maloney took.

EDMOND RALPH ANDERSON JR.[#25229], 72, of Bloomington, Ill., was disbarred Sept. 10, 1998, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

The State Bar Court's review department recommended that Anderson be disbarred following its finding that he formed a law partnership with a non-lawyer and turned over control of the business to the non-lawyer, who embezzled funds and committed other ethical violations.

Anderson "insists that he has done nothing wrong," wrote Judge Kenneth Norian. "His serious misconduct and failure to recognize his professional responsibilities require disbarment."

An attorney for 40 years, Anderson handled a wide variety of civil matters as well as criminal cases. In 1994, he was approached by Roy Bahk (aka Brandon Bahk and Jim Kyu Bahk) to set up a law office specializing in personal injury cases. Anderson knew Bahk is not admitted to practice in California.

The two men entered into a partnership agreement under which Bahk was to provide and manage a law office, handle all money, pay all expenses, give a "fair share" of each settlement to the client, and pay Anderson a percentage of each settlement as an attorney's fee. The law office was established in Anderson's name, but he testified at his trial that he was to serve as Bahk's front man.

Bahk set up the "Anderson Law Offices" in San Gabriel, listing his and Anderson's name. The two set up a client trust account and a general account bearing Anderson's name, although both men were listed as signatories on each account. Bahk deposited personal funds in both accounts and controlled both.

Anderson had virtually no control over the San Gabriel office, which handled the cases of at least 60 clients obtained by Bahk. In fact, Anderson worked at an office elsewhere for three or four months after the San Gabriel office opened, although he visited daily and spent about half his time there.

Anderson interviewed clients, but Bahk settled their cases. Anderson testified at trial that Bahk gave the clients "as little as possible" and sometimes "almost nothing."

In one case in particular, a client who was injured in an auto accident was informed that Anderson was his new attorney, although the client had never met him or consented to his representation.

When the case settled for just over $10,000, two settlement checks were deposited in Anderson's client trust account after the client's signature was forged. Anderson did not know about receipt of the checks, nor was the client ever informed about them.

The balance in the client trust account fell far below the required amount.

The client eventually hired a new attorney and learned about the settlement, but when he contacted Anderson, the attorney denied he had worked on the case. Eventually Anderson paid the man about $2,600, although when he did so, he tried to persuade the client to drop his complaint to the State Bar.

Anderson ended his partnership with Bahk in 1996, and gave all the files to Bahk. He did not notify any of the clients he was ending his representation of them.

At trial, the bar court found that Anderson failed to provide legal services competently, properly maintain a client trust account, notify clients of the receipt of settlement funds, or pay out those funds promptly. He also displayed gross negligence in allowing a client's funds to be misappropriated and thus committed an act of moral turpitude.

Although the bar sought an actual suspension of six months, the judge recommended disbarment. Anderson appealed to the review department, arguing that he engaged in no willful misconduct. The review judge agreed with the disbarment recommendation.

SUSPENSIONS/PROBATION
WOLODYMYR Y. DOZORSKY [#98515], 49, of Irvine was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual four-month suspension, and was ordered to comply with rule 955 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Aug. 21, 1998.

Dozorsky engaged in the unauthorized practice of law twice while he was suspended in 1994 and 1995 for failure to pay bar dues.

He also failed to attend ethics school or complete a law office management course, both probation requirements from a 1993 discipline.

JOHN H. GREENWOOD [#125707], 42, of Beverly Hills was suspended for 18 months, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 90-day actual suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and to comply with rule 955. The order took effect Aug. 21, 1998.

The review department of the State Bar Court agreed with bar prosecutors that Greenwood should receive an actual suspension for misconduct the bar court found in 1997.

In a default trial, hearing Judge Nancy Roberts Lonsdale found that Greenwood failed to perform legal services competently in two matters.

In the first, he represented a client of a Michigan law firm who was injured while visiting California. The case was dismissed when Greenwood failed to appear at a mandatory status conference. He never informed the client or the Michigan counsel of the dismissal, and did not respond to a State Bar investigation.

The court also found that he failed to properly withdraw from representation.

In the second matter, Greenwood failed to respond to discovery requests in a civil case despite several time extensions. The court dismissed the case, and Greenwood sought relief from the dismissal four months after the five-year statute of limitations expired.

However, he did not respond to several requests from the client that he return her file, nor did he reply to a bar investigator's inquiry.

Lonsdale first recommended that Greenwood be given an 18-month stayed suspension with probation conditions, including a 90-day actual suspension.

However, she later issued a new order, setting aside the default and eliminating the actual suspension, after Greenwood pleaded that he had been despondent over his mother's death, became unable to work, and vacated his office for a time.

The bar sought review, arguing that Lonsdale erred in setting aside the default and in not recommending an actual suspension. The review court agreed.

JOSEPH PATRICK MASTERSON [#165564], 37, of Prairie Village, Kan., was suspended for five years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with an actual three-year suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation and pass the MPRE. Credit toward the actual suspension will be given for the interim suspension which began July 30, 1997. The order took effect Aug. 21, 1998.

In 1994, Masterson pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated battery and possession of cocaine in Kansas after he assaulted his best friend's girlfriend. After ingesting cocaine, he choked the woman, threatened her with a knife, and hit her in the head with a hammer.

Masterson was sentenced to three and a half years on the battery charge and 11 months for drug possession, but was put on probation six months later.

He underwent treatment for alcohol and drug dependence and resigned from the Missouri bar.

In mitigation, he has taken steps toward his rehabilitation, including volunteering at a local soup kitchen. He presented numerous letters attesting to his good character and cooperated with the bar's investigation.

EDWARD MARSHALL MOSES [#87228], 60, of Anaheim was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 90-day actual suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE exam and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Aug. 21, 1998.

Moses settled a personal injury case for two clients, but did not pay a medical lien until he was threatened with litigation.

He failed to properly maintain his client trust account by allowing the balance to fall below the required amount, and he did not promptly disburse client funds.

After the case settled, one of the clients worked in Masterson's office, and he paid her wages out of settlement funds which had been earmarked to pay the medical lien. Masterson stipulated that he misappropriated those funds, an act of moral turpitude.

In mitigation, he has provided pro bono services to at least 40 clients since his 1979 admission to the bar, and he served as a judge pro tem in Los Angeles municipal court for two years.

JAMES JAY SIMPSON [#149386], 40, of Fountain Valley 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 Aug. 21, 1998.

In 1997, Simpson was convicted by a jury of hit and run with property damage.

When making a court appearance at the Orange County superior court, he parked his car in a lot reserved for judges. When one of the judges arrived for work and found no parking, he parked his car behind Simpson's vehicle after a security guard said the car should not be there. The judge allowed enough space for Simpson to get out, but Simpson hit the judge's car, damaged it and left without leaving a note.

Simpson was sentenced to 30 days in the county jail, but the sentence was stayed pending completion of 240 hours of community service.

In mitigation, Simpson has no record of discipline since his 1990 admission to the bar.

JAMES A. BRATTON [#70255], 53, of San Jose 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 Aug. 22, 1998.

Bratton stipulated to misconduct in four client matters, including failure to perform legal services competently, communicate with clients, return client files and unearned fees, or cooperate with the State Bar's investigation.

In a wrongful termination case, Bratton did almost no work for more than four years, so his client complained to the bar. During the bar's investigation, he offered to continue to work on the case, and the client accepted.

Six months later, Bratton wrote to the bar and outlined the steps he had taken or planned to take in the matter. The bar closed its investigation, and a month later, the case was dismissed as a result of Bratton's failure to prosecute.

In a divorce case, he did not complete and file a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order) with the court for five years. In another divorce matter, he did not respond to his client's repeated status inquiries for more than three years.

In mitigation, Bratton has no record of prior discipline, and he made full restitution to one client.

THOMAS A. CASAZZA [#98678], 54, of Sacramento was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on probation for one year, and was ordered to take the MPRE within a year and prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Aug. 22, 1998.

Casazza stipulated to misconduct in three client matters.

In the first, a civil litigation matter, he failed to deposit two checks from his client in a client trust account. The checks were meant to pay for work performed by a consulting firm, but Casazza did not pay the firm's bill until it filed a small claims action against him and the bar became involved.

During a deposition in a real estate action, Casazza was ejected by the arbitrator after belligerent behavior, which included offensive remarks such as telling opposing counsel he should "do the human race a favor and not reproduce."

He never did any further work on the case.

A third client gave Casazza more than $15,000 to disburse as requested. He allowed his client trust account to fall below the required balance and made a loan payment late. As a result, his client was assessed a late fee of $531.67.

In mitigation, Casazza has no record of prior discipline.

RONALD STEVEN MILLER [#66870], 50, of Encino was suspended for 30 days, stayed, placed on two years of probation, and was ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Aug. 27, 1998.

Miller stipulated to five counts of misconduct in three client matters.

In the first, he failed to perform legal services competently or promptly pay client funds when he did not negotiate a discount of a medical lien or pay the lien for about two years. He also did not provide to his client an accounting of the funds received and disbursed.

Miller did not communicate with his client in a second case. In that matter, he filed suit against his client's employer, based on the employer having improperly allowed the client's wife to remove funds from his savings and retirement accounts.

Miller told the client the case was not viable because the man had suffered no money damages, and in fact, had been credited with the funds that were improperly given to his wife.

As a result, Miller did not appear at a scheduled status conference and the case was dismissed. He did not tell his client about the dismissal because he thought the client understood the lawsuit was to be abandoned.

In a third matter, Miller settled a personal injury case for $11,500. He had associated with another attorney who was supposed to negotiate a reduction of a doctor bill and did not do so. That doctor was never paid. Miller did not provide an accounting until the client complained to the State Bar.