California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - APRIL 2002
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DISCIPLINE

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CAUTION!
More than 178,000 attorneys are eligible to practice law in California. Many attorneys share the same names. All discipline reports are taken from State Bar Court documents and should be read carefully for names, ages, addresses and bar numbers.
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DISBARMENTS

MICHAEL JOSEPH ACKERMAN [#104170], 45, of Palo Alto was disbarred Nov. 9, 2001, and ordered to comply with rule 955 of the California Rules of Court.

As part of a 2000 discipline order, Ackerman was required to comply with rule 955 by notifying his clients, opposing counsel and other pertinent parties that he was suspended from practice and to submit to the Supreme Court an affidavit stating that he had done so. He never filed the affidavit.

Non-compliance with rule 955 is grounds for disbarment.

The underlying discipline was the result of failure to avoid interests adverse to a client, failure to cooperate with the bar's investigation and committing an act of moral turpitude.

Ackerman did not participate in the disbarment proceedings and his default was entered.

PAUL YANEZ [#100492], 49, of Anaheim was disbarred Nov. 9, 2001, and ordered to comply with rule 955.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Yanez failed to file with the Supreme Court an affidavit attesting to his compliance with rule 955.

His probation was revoked and previous stays of suspension were lifted in two consolidated matters. The underlying discipline was ordered when Yanez failed to perform legal services for two clients or return their phone calls, and failed to cooperate with the bar's investigation.

WALTER MELVIN FRAZEE III [#93933], 46, of Dana Point was disbarred Nov. 22, 2001, and ordered to comply with rule 955.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Frazee committed misconduct in three matters.

In the first, he was asked to file a petition for probate by the sister of a woman for whom he had prepared a will. The sister gave him $450. Although he promised to prepare the petition immediately, he never did so and did not return his client's numerous phone calls.

When the woman hired successor counsel and requested a refund and return of her file, Frazee did not respond. He also did not respond to the new lawyer or to the Orange County bar's Client Relations Committee, with whom the client filed a complaint.

In a second case, Frazee acted as attorney for a trust; the client's nephew was a trustee and upon the client's death, two women were to receive $10,000 each. When the client died, Frazee asked the trustee for a check for $20,000 to pay the two women. At the time, he was suspended from practice for non-payment of bar dues.

Frazee deposited $15,000 in his client trust account, kept $5,000 in cash, but never paid the beneficiaries of the trust anything, retaining the funds for his own use and misappropriating $20,000. Over time, the balance in his trust account fell to a negative amount. The beneficiaries sued Frazee for fraud and intentional misrepresentation and each won a judgment of $28,934.

Frazee did not pay the judgments until, in an attempt to sell his home, he agreed to settle the matters in order to remove liens against his property.

In a third matter, Frazee represented a client in a personal injury matter stemming from a motor accident. He settled the case for $78,000, paid some medical bills and set aside about $3,700 to pay the balance of the doctor bills. However, he allocated that money to cost reimbursement rather than medical reimbursement and converted those funds to his own use. Because some of his client's medical bills weren't paid, the client was unable to refinance his home without paying a larger amount than anticipated.

Frazee did not respond to registered letters from his client.

The bar court found Frazee failed to perform legal services competently (two counts), communicate with clients (two counts), release client papers and property (one count), deposit and maintain funds in his trust account (one count) or pay medical providers at his client's request. He also held himself out as an attorney while suspended and committed acts of moral turpitude that included willful misappropriation of $20,000, converting funds intended for a medical provider to his own use and cashing a check written to file a probate petition and never filing the petition.

VICTOR RICHARD LAWHORN [#83596], 48, of Oakland was disbarred Nov. 22, 2001, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

He did not meet the conditions of a 2000 discipline order requiring him to comply with rule 955. That order was issued as a result of failing to comply with probation conditions attached to an earlier discipline and failing to perform competently in one client matter.

Lawhorn also was disciplined in 1997 for failure to perform, return client files or communicate with clients. Ten years earlier, he was disciplined for misappropriating client funds.

MARK KENDALL WORCESTER [#94706], 46, of Irvine was disbarred Nov. 22, 2001, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

Worcester failed to comply with a 2000 disciplinary order that required him to comply with rule 955. He never filed the required affidavit.

The underlying discipline was the result of Worcester's failure to comply with conditions attached to a 1996 private reproval; he did not file four quarterly probation reports, complete ethics school or take the MPRE.

His misconduct began with an agreement in lieu of discipline for failing to competently handle three civil matters and failing to communicate with a client. When he did not comply with conditions attached to the agreement, he was privately reproved.

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

WILLIAM WONG WOO [#98489], 53, of Santa Ana was disbarred Dec. 2, 2001, and was ordered to comply with rule 955.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Woo committed eight counts of misconduct in three matters, including failure to perform competently or communicate with clients and committing an act of moral turpitude. Each case involved the same clients.

In the first matter, Woo was hired in 1986 by a couple to represent them in a breach of contract. He filed the complaint in 1987, but by 1992, the court published a notice that the case would be dismissed for failure to prosecute. Woo never objected and the case was dismissed, although he never notified the clients.

Five months later, the clients tried unsuccessfully to reach Woo. Six years later, they sought a written report on the case and complained that Woo had never returned their many phone calls. He did not respond.

The same year Woo filed the breach of contract matter, he filed a second breach of contract and negligence claim against a realtor. Five years later, he asked that one of the defendants be dismissed without prejudice, and did not inform his clients. Two years after that, an arbitrator ruled in favor of the defendants and Woo told his clients he planned to request a trial.

Three years later, the court ordered the case to binding arbitration. After several continuances, the court ordered the case dismissed with prejudice.

In 1993, the same couple had Woo file a personal injury claim as the result of an automobile accident. Over the next three and a half years, the insurance company repeatedly requested Woo to provide them with information about the accident which occurred in Florida, a state with a four-year statute of limitations. The statute expired without Woo taking any action.

Later, he told his clients the case had settled for $30,000 and asked them to sign claim releases. He gave them fabricated settlement papers, which included a $12,000 fee for himself. He issued a cashier's check to his client for $17,748 which he said was the client's share of the purported settlement.

The bar court found that Woo failed to perform legal services competently, respond to his clients' status inquiries, or keep clients reasonably informed about significant developments in their case, and he committed acts of moral turpitude by misrepresenting information about the personal injury case.

Woo has a record of discipline, including an unauthorized practice of law finding last year. He also was disciplined in 1998 for 14 counts of misconduct in five matters, including failing to perform legal services competently, communicate with clients, refund unearned fees, provide accountings of client funds and cooperate with the bar's investigation. Woo also failed to properly withdraw from representation, he did not obtain a

client's written consent to a potentially adverse representation, and he committed an act of moral turpitude by failing to disclose a material fact and misrepresentation.

He also was privately reproved in 1996, but did not comply with probation conditions.

SUSPENSIONS/PROBATION

JUAN MANUEL NUNEZ [#165540], 53, of Salinas was suspended for three years, stayed, actually suspended for two years and until he makes restitution, proves his rehabilitation and the State Bar Court orders the suspension terminated, and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Nov. 2, 2001.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Nunez committed misconduct in three matters, including failure to perform legal services competently, communicate with clients, refund unearned fees and cooperate with a bar investigation, withdrawing from employment without protecting his clients' interests, committing acts of dishonesty and misleading a judge.

In the first matter, Nunez represented a client who paid him $1,500 to handle her divorce. He never filed the required papers. Instead, the client's husband filed for dissolution, and Nunez submitted a response and a declaration of income, both bearing his client's signature, which contained inaccurate information about her assets.

When the client hired a new lawyer who discovered Nunez' actions, she demanded a refund, but Nunez never returned her fee.

In another divorce proceeding, the court ordered Nunez to replace another individual in preparing a support tax calculation. He never did so. He was later ordered to prepare an order vacating the appointment of the first person, taking other issues off calendar and setting the child support issue for a hearing. When he appeared at the hearing, Nunez told the judge he had filed the order that morning when he had not.

His client eventually received a copy of the settlement agreement, which she had signed, but she noticed the signature on the document was not hers. Nunez said he signed it because he had lost his copy, but had filed the original with the court. In fact, he never filed the agreement. He later ignored a court order that he prepare an order reflecting the terms of the agreement.

In the third case, a client paid $1,700 to handle a divorce and to assist in reducing child support payments. Although Nunez advised his client the petition should be filed in Monterey County, where he resided, the client's spouse filed first in San Luis Obispo County. He advised his client he did not need to appear at hearings and said two court appearances were canceled even though Nunez had appeared. Twice, opposing counsel appeared on Nunez' behalf. By the time the action was taken off calendar, Nunez had filed nothing with the court.

He did not inform the client he had withdrawn as his counsel and did not return the file or unearned fees, leaving the client unable to hire another attorney.

EVAN LLEWELLYN SMITH [#101369], 50, of Diamond Bar was suspended for 30 days, stayed, placed on one year of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Nov. 2, 2001.

Smith stipulated that he failed to comply with conditions attached to a 1999 private reproval. He filed five quarterly reports late, failed to file five reports from a certified public accountant and failed to attend ethics school or the trust account record-keeping class.

The private reproval was issued as a result of Smith's failure to deposit client funds in a trust account or to maintain records of client funds.

In mitigation, no clients were harmed and he cooperated with the bar's investigation.

GORDON DAVID SOLADOR [#86501], 51, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a one-year actual suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation, take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Nov. 2, 2001.

Solador stipulated that he failed to deposit client funds in a trust account and committed an act of moral turpitude.

He represented two sisters on a contingency fee basis in a personal injury case. He received and deposited two settlement checks, totaling $8,033, in his trust account, but did not inform the clients. He did not distribute any part of the medical payment funds for almost three years, when the sisters complained to the State Bar.

He also allowed the balance in his trust account to fall below the required amount, including a negative balance, on numerous occasions.

Solador also was suspended in 1994.

In mitigation, he has performed extensive pro bono work, ranging from 20 to 50 hours per month, through membership in the reserve unit of the San Fernando Police Department. He also had a medical condition which affected his ability to supervise his practice.

ANDREW KENNETH ALGER [#142838], 41, of Fair Oaks was suspended for three years, stayed, actually suspended for one year and until he makes restitution and the State Bar Court grants a motion to terminate the suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Nov. 2, 2001.

In a default proceeding, the bar court found that Alger failed to comply with probation conditions attached to a 1998 public reproval. He did not make restitution to two clients, submit four quarterly probation reports or attend ethics school.

The reproval was issued when Alger stipulated to a failure to perform competently in two matters, communicate with clients in one matter or cooperate with the bar's investigation.

A second discipline case is pending before the Supreme Court stemming from Alger's failure to perform competently, communicate with clients, comply with a judicial sanction or report the sanction to the State Bar and for improperly withdrawing from representation. Alger defaulted in that proceeding as well.

LAURINDA LOCKERBY LEE [#117725], 45, of Murrieta was suspended for six months, stayed, actually suspended for 30 days and until she makes restitution and the State Bar Court orders that the suspension be terminated, and was ordered to take the MPRE. If the actual suspension exceeds 90 days, she must comply with rule 955 and if it exceeds two years, she must prove her rehabilitation. The order took effect Nov. 2, 2001.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Lee failed to perform legal services competently, communicate with a client, refund unearned fees or cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In 1997, Lee was hired by a couple to prepare a living trust and transfer their assets to the trust. The couple signed the trust documents, documents to transfer title of their home to the trust, and letters of instruction to their account-holders requesting that funds or assets be placed in the trust.

Lee never sent the letters to transfer assets, nor did she record a deed transferring title of the clients' home.

When the clients learned nothing had been done by mid-1998, Lee said she had sent the letters to various institutions and that she had requested the county recorder to provide copies of the deeds. She did not return subsequent phone calls and refused to accept a certified letter. She never refunded the clients' $850 fee.

Lee has no record of discipline in 15 years of practice.

GREGORY PAUL MUTZ [#153481], 50, of El Cajon was suspended for one year, stayed, and actually suspended for six months and until the State Bar Court grants a motion to terminate the suspension. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Nov. 2, 2001.

In a default proceeding, the bar court found that Mutz failed to perform legal services competently, obey a court order or cooperate with a bar investigation and he improperly withdrew from employment.

Mutz failed to appear at five hearings on behalf of his client, a defendant in a criminal proceeding. As a result, he was sanctioned $300.

He failed to appear at a hearing he had scheduled by calling the court and the matter was taken off calendar. He didn't appear at a subsequent hearing, was removed from the case and sanctioned another $150. He didn't appear at three more hearings and was sanctioned another $375. He did not pay the sanctions.

Mutz was disciplined earlier in 2001 for failing to perform, return unearned fees or cooperate with a bar investigation, for improperly withdrawing from representation, disobeying a court order and committing an act of moral turpitude.

DANNY ROBERT TAYLOR [#91924], 51, of Los Angeles was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual 30-day suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Nov. 2, 2001.

Taylor stipulated to misconduct in four consolidated matters.

He acted as defense counsel in a criminal trial at a time when he was suspended for failure to pay bar dues. The proceeding ended in a mistrial when it was learned Taylor was suspended. The notice of suspension sent by the State Bar was returned because Taylor had moved without reporting his new address.

The suspension lasted only 10 days.

He also appeared in court on behalf of another client while he was suspended, but then failed to appear at two subsequent hearings and withdrew from employment without seeking the court's permission.

In a third criminal proceeding, Taylor was sanctioned $400 for his failure to appear for trial at the scheduled time. The matter was continued for trial and Taylor did not pay the sanction. He also did not appear at the subsequent trial date, but called the court at 4 p.m. to say he was ill. He missed a court appearance the following day and was relieved as counsel.

He was found in contempt but did not appear at two sentencing hearings. He eventually spent five days in the county jail.

Taylor represented another criminal defendant in two matters, and again missed a hearing, was dismissed as counsel, was found guilty of contempt of court and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and spend five days in jail.

He stipulated that he practiced law while not entitled, failed to maintain a current address with the State Bar, improperly withdrew from employment, disobeyed court orders and failed to maintain respect for the courts.

Taylor received a private reproval in 2000 following a conviction for battery and trespass.

In mitigation, he suffered a period of severe depression at the time of the misconduct because his marriage broke up, he was evicted from his residence and he suffered financial reversals. No harm came to his clients, since he made efforts to protect their interests after his failures to appear.

GILBERT YOSHIHARU NISHINO [#100036], 52, of Hemet was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a three-month actual suspension, and was ordered to make restitution, take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Nov. 2, 2001.

Nishino stipulated to misconduct in two matters.

He obtained a $25,000 judgment plus attorney fees for his clients in a civil matter involving claims to money deposited in an escrow account relating to the sale of a business. He received a check for just over $19,000 and deposited it in his trust account.

On appeal, the court reversed the attorney fees portion of the judgment but upheld the rest.

Nishino contends that his associate negotiated an agreement with the clients regarding fees, but the clients disputed his claim and demanded that Nishino pay them about $15,000.

He has not paid the clients any funds or provided an accounting to them.

Given the fee dispute, Nishino was required to maintain at least $15,000 in his trust account, but has allowed the balance to fall below that amount.

He did not cooperate with the bar's investigation.

In the second matter, Nishino employed as an independent contractor an attorney who was suspended from practice. The attorney worked on client matters while suspended. Nishino did not notify the State Bar of his employment although he contends his clients were advised the attorney was suspended.

Nishino stipulated that he failed to maintain client funds in a trust account, provide an accounting of funds to clients, cooperate with a bar investigation or notify the bar that he employed a disciplined attorney.

In 1996, Nishino was privately reproved for failing to perform legal services competently or communicate with clients.

RUSSELL MONTFORD RICK [#104118], 46, of Ontario was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a six-month actual suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation, take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Nov. 2, 2001.

The State Bar Court found that Rick committed acts of misconduct in two matters.

In the first, he filed a complaint for property damage and personal injury, but the case was dismissed because Rick failed to serve the complaint on the defendant, although he did provide a courtesy copy to the insurance company. Without advising the insurance company's counsel about the dismissal, he engaged in discussions about submitting the matter to binding arbitration.

The attorney sent a proposed arbitration agreement to Rick with a line for his client's signature. Rick returned the agreement bearing his client's forged signature.

The insurance company attorney noticed the signature did not match that on another document and challenged Rick, who admitted he signed his client's name but said he had his power of attorney. The other attorney called the court and learned the case had been dismissed six months earlier.

The client fired Rick and obtained new counsel, who moved to set aside the dismissal. In support of that motion, Rick filed a declaration which contained false statements. An amended complaint included a second almost identical declaration by Rick containing false statements.

The bar court found that Rick sought to mislead the court and committed an act of moral turpitude.

Rick opened a second law office in Santa Maria in 1997, where he employed Dan Aceves, a.k.a. Felipe Enriquez, as a paralegal. It was Aceves/Enriquez' idea to open the office, and Rick essentially turned over control to him without adequate supervision. Rick never visited the office and shut it down after two or three months.

Aceves/Enriquez solicited a minor who had been in an automobile accident, appearing at the client's home and falsely claiming he'd been referred by two different neighbors. When confronted by the youth's family, Aceves/Enriquez left and was never seen again.

The family called Rick's Los Angeles office to complain about the paralegal and to inquire about the case. Rick's office acknowledged he was the client's attorney and said Aceves/Enriquez no longer represented the office. The client later hired a different lawyer. Rick closed the Santa Maria office and fired Aceves/ Enriquez.

The new lawyer asked for the file and put Rick on notice that the paralegal had engaged in capping. Rick then asserted a lien for the value of his services and costs advanced in the personal injury matter and notified the insurance company of the lien.

Eventually the new lawyer sent Rick a proposed court order in the case and asked him to relinquish any claim to fees. He also noted the judge was aware of the capping and made a finding on the record that he thought Rick's office had acted unlawfully and ordered the clerk to make a referral to the State Bar.

Nonetheless, Rick proposed that he receive 35 percent of the attorney fees in settlement of the lien claim and asserted that the superior court had no jurisdiction over fee disputes.

The bar court found that he failed to perform legal services competently and attempted to collect an illegal fee.

In mitigation, Rick has no prior record of discipline.

THOMAS EDWARD JOHNSTON [#30389], 69, of Newport Beach was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on four years of probation with an actual two-year suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation, make restitution, take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Nov. 9, 2001.

Johnston stipulated that he breached his fiduciary duties in a general partnership by making misrepresentations, failing to disclose material facts, signing a partner's name to a document without his knowledge and misappropriating partnership funds, acts which amounted to moral turpitude.

In 1977, Johnston's wholly owned corporation became a general partner with a limited partnership created to develop and sell 1,770 acres in Orange County.  A year later, the partnership acquired two new general partners and Johnston's company and another became limited partners.

The partnership included a golf course and in 1988, negotiations began to sell the course at a substantial profit. However, one of the general partners was not informed about the negotiations or about subsequent business dealings.

A new entity was created in which Johnston was a general partner. As a fiduciary, he was required to avoid making false representations, to disclose material facts about the golf course and to maintain partnership assets and funds.

He convinced one of the general partners to enter into a series of agreements without giving him complete information. When the golf course was sold, Johnston did not tell the general partner, although he was a shareholder, nor did he distri-bute the cash proceeds to him, as required by the partnership agreement.

The general partner sued Johnston for fraud and deceit, intentional misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment. Johnston then changed the partnership agreement without the general partner's knowledge.

The court ordered Johnston and other defendants to pay the general partner nearly $479,000, plus $284,338 in interest, for fraud while acting in a fiduciary capacity. In addition, Johnston was ordered to pay more than $500,000 in attorney fees.

Johnston has not paid the judgment or the fees.

In mitigation, his wife passed away in 1990. Johnston does not practice law and intends to continue to pursue a career as a developer.

RODOLFO ENRIQUEZ PETILLA [#109383], 61, of Fresno was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 60-day actual suspension, and was ordered to make restitution and take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Nov. 9, 2001.

The State Bar Court review department upheld a hearing judge's findings that in 1994, over a 37-day period, Petilla incurred credit card debts of almost $20,000 without intending to pay them. He wound up in debt by taking cash advances on two credit cards and gambling away the money. He filed for bankruptcy 16 days after the last cash advance.

The hearing judge determined that Petilla borrowed money without intending to repay it, an act that involves dishonesty and moral turpitude.

The review department rejected Petilla's arguments that the evidence was insufficient to warrant discipline, that the judge's decision was void because it was not timely and was not served on him, and that the restitution requirement was illegal. It reversed a recommendation that Petilla be required to attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings.

When Petilla filed for bankruptcy, he attempted to discharge more than $57,000 in debt, most of it the result of gambling. He said the debt was incurred as part of a "free fall" at Nevada blackjack tables between late May and early July 1994. The review department described the free fall as "a losing streak during which he lost tens of thousands of dollars."

During the previous 12 months, he repaid at least $114,611 in gambling debts.

In addition to the $19,327 cash advances in question, Petilla also took $25,000 in gambling markers from three Nevada casinos and more than $11,000 in cash advances on two other credit cards. Those debts were either discharged or not challenged.

The bankruptcy court found that Petilla engaged in fraud when he incurred the debts on the two credit cards in question, and an appellate court upheld its ruling.

The bar court found unconvincing Petilla's contention that he intended to repay the cash advances with his gambling winnings.

In mitigation, Petilla practiced law for 16 years without any record of discipline.

CHARLES J. ROTHBAUM [#54450], 56, of Visalia was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with an actual 145-day suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation, make restitution, take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Nov. 9, 2001.

Rothbaum stipulated to seven counts of misconduct in four consolidated cases.

In the first, he failed to return a client's file six years after defending him in a criminal trial. He eventually returned the file more than a year later.

He failed to appear at two hearings in a juvenile criminal matter and was relieved as counsel. He refunded the unearned $1,500 fee after the client complained to the State Bar.

Another client, in custody in Bakers-field, hired Rothbaum to represent her in a federal matter in Arkansas. The client's sister paid him $10,000 as a flat fee, but he took no action to represent her other than one jail visit.

The client was sent to Arkansas, but Rothbaum did not contact her there, filed no motions, made no appearances and took no action to be admitted there.

When he did not refund the advance fee, the client's sister sought arbitration and won an award requiring Rothbaum to return the money. The client complained to the bar and a payment scheduled was created, but he missed payments and bounced checks. Meanwhile, he informed the bar he was on schedule in paying the money. He eventually paid the money and interest.

In a fourth matter, Rothbaum defended a man accused of criminal child molestation. Without a written fee agreement, the defendant's family agreed to a $15,000 fee. When Rothbaum discovered the case was significantly more complicated than he originally thought, he told the defendant he could represent him only if he paid $25,000. The client agreed and at the same time asked Rothbaum to safeguard a duffel bag for him.

Through the defendant's sister and Rothbaum's investigator, Rothbaum came into possession of two duffel bags and several guns which he transferred to a commercial storage facility. He was uncertain if the items were connected to his client's case and took steps to get some advice, but never followed through. He never disclosed to the court or the prosecutor that he was in possession of his client's property.

Eventually, Rothbaum's relationship with his client broke down and he was relieved as counsel. The client's sister went to fee arbitration and was awarded a refund of $22,448, which Rothbaum never paid.

He stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently or to abide by his duty to deliver evidence related to the criminal case to the court.

In mitigation, he has no record of discipline, and he had emotional or physical difficulties or family problems at the time of the misconduct.

JULIAN I. DUCRE [#113923], 51, of Chino 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 Nov. 9, 2001.

Ducre stipulated to misconduct in two matters.

In a personal injury claim, he and his client agreed Ducre would receive a 40 percent contingency fee if the matter went to trial or arbitration. He received $13,250 in settlement funds and disbursed everything except a payment for the client's medical bills. He did not pay the medical provider for almost two years and also allowed the balance in the trust account to fall below the required amount.

In the second matter, also a personal injury case, he executed medical liens on behalf of two of his client's medical providers, but failed to pay the liens for more than three years after receiving settlement funds. At one point, the client visited him at home to request that he pay the funds. He also allowed the balance in his client trust account to fall below the required amount.

In mitigation, Ducre has no record of discipline in 16 years of practice, and he had serious family and emotional problems at the time of the misconduct, including depression, divorce and problems with a child. Repeated failures of a computer trust account problem, as well as difficulties with his office staff, resulted in the failure to maintain funds and delays in making payments.

CHARLES KERN GOLDEN [#121625], 45, of Riverside was suspended for two years, stayed, actually suspended for 90 days and until he makes restitution and the State Bar Court orders the suspension be terminated, and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Nov. 9, 2001.

In a default proceeding, the bar court found that Golden committed multiple acts of misconduct in two cases, including failing to perform legal services competently, communicate with clients, return client files and unearned fees or cooperate with the bar, and he made misrepresentations to a client and the client's agent regarding the status of his case.

In the first matter, a client paid him $2,850 in advance fees to file a lawsuit. He never did so, but told the client six months later that he had served the other party. He failed to answer numerous phone calls and did not return the client's fee or her papers.

In the second matter, a couple paid Golden $1,350 to represent them in removing a contractor's lien against their home so they could refinance their mortgage. Golden failed to perform any legal services for his clients, including failing to file an action against the contractor.

However, he told an escrow officer working with the couple that a hearing was scheduled to obtain an order to remove the invalid deed of trust from the record title.

He did not return the clients' numerous phone calls, refund their fee or return their papers.

His misrepresentations in both cases amounted to moral turpitude.

In mitigation, Golden has no record of discipline in 13 years of practice

JEFFREY HOWARD GREENWALD [#178377], 49, of San Jose was suspended for two years, stayed, actually suspended for 90 days and until he makes restitution, proves his rehabilitation and the State Bar Court grants a motion to terminate the suspension, and he was ordered to take the MPRE. If the actual suspension exceeds 90 days he must comply with rule 955, and if it exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Nov. 9, 2001.

In a default proceeding, the bar court found that Greenwald committed misconduct in three matters, including failing to perform legal services, communicate with clients, refund unearned fees, maintain respect for the courts or cooperate with the bar's investigations.

One client paid more than $1,600 in fees to clear up matters related to the DMV and a traffic citation. Greenwald did no work on the case, did not return numerous phone calls or pages and did not refund the unearned fees.

In a second matter, a client hired him to pursue a tort action in connection with an auto accident. After negotiating a settlement with the insurance carrier and receiving a check for almost $5,300, Greenwald failed to negotiate the check, which bore the names of the lienholders, the client and Greenwald. As a result, the client never received his share of the settlement. Greenwald also did not return the client's phone calls.

In a criminal matter, Greenwald appeared for trial but indicated he was unable to proceed because he had personal problems, including having spent the previous night in jail. When he did appear, he did not provide a witness list to the district attorney and the case was continued to the next day.

At that time, Greenwald had not provided civilian clothes to his client, so he left for more than an hour, returning without the clothes. The court reset the hearing for 1:30 p.m.; Greenwald appeared at 2:15, again without the client's clothing.

The case was continued until the following morning, when Greenwald moved to withdraw. He told the court he had not read the search warrant, had not interviewed the key witness, was homeless and was being evicted from his law office, and that, frustrated by lack of a fee payment, he had left an insulting message on his client's wife's answering machine.

The judge excused him from the case and reported him to the bar. He did not cooperate with its investigation.

RAYMOND A. NOVELL [#67003], 59, of Claremont was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual 40-day suspension and was ordered to make restitution and take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Nov. 22, 2001.

Novell stipulated that he failed to maintain client funds in a client trust account in two cases, and he misappropriated funds from one client.

In the first case, he represented a client in two personal injury claims arising out of separate automobile accidents. He and the client entered into a fee agreement providing a 33 1/3 percent contingency fee if the matter were settled before trial and 40 percent if the case were resolved at trial.

After both matters were resolved, Novell was entitled to fees and costs of $29,273; he was required to retain $13,471 in the trust account for medical liens. Although he attempted to negotiate reduced liens over a two-year period, the balance in his trust account repeatedly fell below the required level.

Although he intended to keep the balance at the required level, he delegated responsibility over his trust account to a staffer. He did not take funds for his own use.

In a second matter, he deposited his clients' advance fee and money he received for costs in his general account rather than his client trust account. When the case was dismissed without prejudice, he never refunded or accounted for the money he received for costs.

In mitigation, Novell has no prior record of discipline, he cooperated with the bar's investigation and he devoted time to public service and pro bono legal work.

The probation of BRUCE STEVEN WEINER [#78533], 50, of Cerritos was revoked, the previously ordered stay of suspension was lifted and he was actually suspended for two months. The order took effect Nov. 22, 2001.

Weiner was ordered in 1998 to pass the MPRE as part of a discipline order, and when he did not, he was suspended in 1999. He practiced law while suspended, representing a client in a property dispute by accepting a fee, giving the client legal advice and preparing documents. Dissatisfied with the quality of his work, the client fired him and attempted to get a refund of her fee. He never refunded any money.

Weiner stipulated that he practiced while suspended, collected an illegal fee, failed to refund a fee and did not cooperate with the bar's investigation.

He also violated other terms of his probation, including failing to provide quarterly probation reports, attending six hours of MCLE classes and complying with rule 955.

In another matter, he bounced a check written on his client trust account to pay a filing fee. He knew there were insufficient funds in his account and expected a client to deposit the necessary funds. The client did not do so.

The underlying 1999 discipline was the result of charging an unconscionable fee and failing to return client papers. The 1999 discipline was issued for failure to comply with probation conditions or cooperate with a bar investigation and for practicing while suspended.

The probation of RALPH S. BRANSCOMB [#53209],58, of San Diego was suspended, the previously ordered stay of suspension was lifted and he was actually suspended for six months and ordered to comply with rule 955. Credit shall be given for the period of involuntary inactive enrollment which began Aug. 4, 2001. The order took effect Nov. 22, 2001.

Branscom was suspended in 2000 but did not comply with probation conditions: he did not submit two quarterly probation reports or two substance abuse reports.

The underlying discipline was the result of failing to respond to a client's status inquiries or perform legal services competently.

Branscom's default was entered in the probation revocation proceeding.

CHRISTOPHER COGLEY [#79263], 54, of Phoenix was suspended for one year, stayed, actually suspended for 90 days and until the State Bar Court grants a motion to terminate the suspension, and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Nov. 23, 2001.

Cogley failed to comply with probation conditions attached to a public reproval: he did not submit four probation reports.

The reproval was issued as a result of having been disciplined in Arizona for failing to act with reasonable diligence in a client matter, not keeping the client informed and disobeying a court order.

Cogley defaulted in the latest disciplinary proceeding.

WENDY BETH TABB [#175578], 32, of Aventura, Fla., was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on one year of probation with an actual 30-day suspension. The order took effect Nov. 23, 2001.

Tabb took over a personal injury case from another attorney who had a lien on any recovery received by the client. The case went to binding arbitration and the client was awarded $12,000. Tabb gave the client her share and paid a medical lienholder but did not give the other attorney his share of the settlement.

The other attorney threatened to sue. Tabb and the client had numerous conversations about the possibility of the lawsuit and Tabb repeatedly told the client she would handle the issue and that she would file a demurrer if a suit were filed. The client sent her three certified letters confirming the substance of the conversations. The last letter was returned as undeliverable because Tabb moved to Florida without telling the client. She had never contacted the other attorney about the fee issue.

The other attorney sued the client and was awarded $1,800 in arbitration. Dissatisfied with the award, he took the matter to trial and was awarded more than $4,000, which the client paid.

Tabb stipulated that she failed to promptly pay client funds or communicate with her client, withdrew from representation without protecting her client's interests, and committed acts of moral turpitude by her reassurances that she would take care of the fee issue when she did not.

In mitigation, she cooperated with the bar's investigation and demonstrated remorse about her actions.

DARICK WAYNE HOLT [#117879], 46, of Los Angeles was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on probation for four years with an actual 18-month suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation, make restitution, take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Nov. 23, 2001.

Holt stipulated to misconduct in six consolidated cases, including failing to perform legal services competently, communicate with clients, refund unearned fees, return client files, notify a client of receipt of funds, maintain funds in a client trust account, update bar membership records, cooperate with bar investigations, improperly withdrawing from representation and committing an act of moral turpitude by misappropriating client funds.

Two clients paid Holt $2,500 to handle their immigration matters and a hearing was scheduled in immigration court. The pair was unable to schedule an appointment with Holt for three months because he did not return their phone calls, and he never appeared at the hearing. He did not refund their fee.

He abandoned another immigration client who paid $1,500 in advance fees and gave Holt his file, as well as a doctor who hired him to handle a student loan problem. He received a settlement check for a personal injury client, but never cashed it or distributed the funds.

Holt settled another personal injury case for his minor client without consulting the child or his mother. Someone other than the mother endorsed the settlement check, which was deposited in Holt's trust account, and he wrote a check to the mother. When she tried to deposit the check, it bounced.

Holt eventually closed the trust account when its balance fell to $34.60. He still owes the client $2,800.

In 2000, Holt was charged with felony possession of rock cocaine and misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia for smoking a controlled substance. He pleaded guilty to the felony and was suspended from practice June 7, 2001. He has remained suspended since that time.

In mitigation, Holt was addicted to alcohol and cocaine and currently is in rehab. His wife filed for divorce and his mother died around the time of the misconduct. He has provided pro bono legal services to several churches and conducted arbitrations for the Beverly Hills Bar Association.

H. CRAIG HOLOBOSKI [#59516], 56, of Anaheim was suspended for one year, stayed, actually suspended for 60 days and until he makes restitution and the State Bar Court grants a motion to terminate the suspension, and he was ordered to take the MPRE. If the actual suspension exceeds 90 days, he must comply with rule 955; if it exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Nov. 23, 2001.

In a default proceeding, the bar court found that Holoboski failed to perform legal services competently or communicate with a client, and he withdrew from representation without protecting his client's interests.

A client paid a $1,000 advance fee for Holoboski to represent him in a civil action against his business partners. The client wrote a letter to the partners and gave it to Holoboski for review before sending it to them. Holoboski did no other work on the case. He did not respond to three letters and 50 phone calls, nor did he refund unearned fees.

In mitigation, he practiced for 24 years without any discipline.

ROBERT J. BUSCHO [#122556], 43, of Fullerton was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on probation for 18 months with an actual 60-day suspension, and was ordered to make restitution and take the MPRE. If the actual suspension exceeds 90 days, he must comply with rule 955; if it exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Nov. 23, 2001.

Buscho stipulated that he failed to comply with probation conditions attached to a 1999 disciplinary order: he failed to make restitution, file quarterly probation reports or prove he completed six hours of MCLE courses, and he attended ethics school late.

The discipline was ordered because Buscho failed to perform legal services competently, communicate with clients, refund unearned fees, return client files or cooperate with the bar's investigation, and he improperly withdrew from employment.

INTERIM SUSPENSION

OMAR ALI RIZVI [#165644], 24, of Manhattan Beach was placed on interim suspension Nov. 12, 2001, following convictions for wilful infliction of injury, false imprisonment, assault with a deadly weapon and assault with intent to commit mayhem or specified sexual offenses. He resigned Dec. 29, 2001.

LLOYD STEVEN INGBER [#45373], 58, of Beverly Hills was placed on interim suspension Nov. 23, 2001, following a conviction for making a false and fraudulent claim. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.

JUDITH SYLVIA BELDEROL LEWIS [#164748], 48, of Encino was placed on interim suspension Nov. 24, 2001, following a federal conviction for mail fraud. She was ordered to comply with rule 955.

WILLIAM HAROLD BROWNSTEIN [#84507], 49, of Marina del Rey was placed on interim suspension Nov. 24, 2001, following a conviction for subscribing to a false tax return. He was ordered to comply with rule 955. The suspension ended Feb. 23, 2002.

LAWRENCE SCOTT BOYLE [#129470], 53, of Huntington Beach was placed on interim suspension Dec.12, 2001, following a conviction for conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.

REG FUDGE JR. [#85865], 73, of Van Nuys was placed on interim suspension Dec. 12, 2001, following a conviction for committing a lewd act upon a child. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.