MAGAZINE
California Lawyer

DISBARMENT

Kristin L. Day, State Bar #269679, Roseville (March 24, 2014). Day, 35, was disbarred for aiding in the unauthorized practice of law, lending her name to be used by a nonattorney, forming a partnership with a nonattorney, sharing legal fees with a nonattorney, collecting an illegal fee, failing to competently perform legal services, failing to refund unearned fees, violating the regulations of the profession in Pennsylvania, and committing acts involving moral turpitude.

In February 2011 Day and Brandon Hintz, a nonattorney, formed a partnership called United Foreclosure Attorney Network (UFAN). UFAN’s purpose was to provide mortgage litigation and other debt-related services to borrowers and property owners. Day was aware that Hintz was not authorized to practice law. Day signed independent contract agreements with nonattorney entities, which were authorized to solicit and sign new clients for UFAN. These legal assistants engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by conducting initial client consultations, determining whether or not to accept clients for UFAN, and providing legal advice without attorney supervision. The legal assistants worked according to a script, and they gave all clients the same information.

Day lent her name to these assistants so they could continue to secure new clients for UFAN. Day did not perform any legal services of value for UFAN’s clients, but she nevertheless collected advance attorneys fees. The fees were split between Day, Hintz, and the legal assistants. In one matter, a client residing in Pennsylvania hired UFAN for litigation and paid advance fees. But Day was not admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania.

In aggravation, Day’s misconduct significantly harmed her clients. She committed multiple acts of wrongdoing in a scheme to defraud those clients. Also, she showed indifference toward rectification of or atonement for her misconduct by only partially refunding fees to one client, and failing to make full restitution to eight others. In mitigation, Day entered into a stipulation with the State Bar. She also provided several letters attesting to her good character. The order took effect April 23, 2014

Stanley L. Evans, State Bar #119091, Carmel (March 26, 2014). Evans, 61, was disbarred for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In June 2011 Evans was suspended for a minimum of two years and placed on five years of probation. While on probation, Evans failed to timely submit a quarterly report, and he failed to timely attend State Bar Ethics School. Evans also failed to submit a waiver authorizing the Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) to provide the Office of Probation and the State Bar Court with information regarding the terms and conditions of his participation and compliance with LAP. Finally, Evans failed to timely submit laboratory blood and/or urine reports to the Office of Probation.

In aggravation, Evans had a record of prior discipline. Also, he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing and demonstrated indifference to his misconduct by failing to comply with probation conditions. In mitigation, Evans entered into a stipulation with the State Bar. The order took effect April 25, 2014

Kenneth P. Feria, State Bar #221685, San Francisco (March 24, 2014). Feria, 43, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. He was charged with eleven counts of misconduct, including failing to report judicial sanctions, violating a court order, failing to competently perform legal services, and committing acts involving moral turpitude. The order took effect April 23, 2014
Judith L. Hubert, State Bar #93982, San Bernardino (March 24, 2014). Hubert, 78, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. She was charged with failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline. The order took effect April 23, 2014

SUSPENSION

Bruce H. Atwater, III, State Bar #199011, San Francisco (March 26, 2014). Atwater, 42, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In July 2011 Atwater received an order of public reproval that required him to comply with certain conditions for one year. However, Atwater failed to timely submit two quarterly reports, failed to provide timely proof of attending at least four substance-abuse program meetings, failed to furnish laboratory blood and/or urine reports to the State Bar Office of Probation, and failed to timely furnish evidence of psychiatric treatment. In addition, he failed to provide proof of passage of the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination.

In aggravation, Atwater had a record of prior discipline. He committed multiple acts of wrongdoing and failed to cooperate with the State Bar during its investigation and proceedings. Also, he demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. In mitigation, Atwater entered into a stipulation. The order took effect April 25, 2014

Kenneth B. Brock, State Bar #158311, Oxnard (March 26, 2014). Brock, 53, was suspended for 90 days and placed on two years of probation following his conviction on two misdemeanors.

In June 2011 a police officer saw a vehicle driven by Brock straddling lanes of traffic while traveling at high speed. The officer stopped Brock, who admitted he had been drinking. He was arrested, and breath samples showed his blood-alcohol level was .20 or .21 percent.

In a second incident in October 2011, after Brock was convicted and his license suspended, he was pulled over by a California Highway Patrol officer and admitted to driving with a suspended license.

In aggravation, Brock had a record of prior discipline. Also, he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Brock entered into a full stipulation with the State Bar. The order took effect April 25, 2014

Gordon D. Brown, State Bar #171745, Oakland (March 26, 2014). Brown, 68, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to obtain the written consent of his clients, and committing an act involving moral turpitude.

In March 2011 Brown was hired by a client and her two adult daughters following their involvement in an automobile accident. Brown did not explain the potential conflicts of interest between his multiple clients, and he failed to obtain their signed written consent to representation. From June 2011 through January 2013 USAA Insurance, the other driver’s insurance carrier, wrote Brown 13 letters requesting medical bills and records. Brown did not provide USAA with the requested information.

In January 2013 Brown met with the other driver and presented her with a proposed settlement agreement for $6,800. However, neither his clients nor USAA Insurance ever authorized a settlement. Brown was merely misleading the other driver regarding the status of the case. Once Brown’s clients realized his misconduct, the mother terminated his employment.

In aggravation, Brown committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Brown had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1994. Also, he entered into a stipulation and admitted culpability. The order took effect April 25, 2014

Glen S. Fleetwood, State Bar #113429, Westlake Village (March 26, 2014). Fleetwood, 61, was suspended for 90 days and placed on three years of probation for improperly advancing facts prejudicial to his client and failing to maintain the confidence and secrets of his client.

In March 2012 Fleetwood was hired by a client to represent him in a criminal case arising from his arrest for driving under the influence (DUI). The following month the client went to Fleetwood’s office without an appointment. After waiting for what the client felt was a long time, the client placed a note containing profanities in a sealed envelope addressed to Fleetwood. The next day, Fleetwood lodged the note in the DUI matter as part of his motion to be relieved from representation. Fleetwood informed the client he had provided the note to the court and the city attorney prosecuting his DUI matter. Fleetwood sent several more letters to the client regarding his case, but at no time did Fleetwood ever indicate that he was threatened by the client’s conduct.

In May 2012 Fleetwood filed a motion to be relieved as counsel in the DUI matter, explaining that he believed disclosure of the client’s note was necessary because he felt threatened. The motion stated that the client had lied about his criminal past, was a rapist and a “violent criminal,” intimidated others by claiming to have expertise in civil litigation, and had a “personal assistant” who was a prostitute. Ultimately, the trial court granted Fleetwood’s motion to be relieved as the client’s counsel.

In December 2012 disciplinary proceedings were instituted against Fleetwood. Fleetwood claimed that his behavior was justified because he feared for his life. However, the State Bar Court found that his assertions lacked credibility and that his conduct warranted discipline.

In aggravation, Fleetwood had a record of prior discipline. Also, his misconduct significantly harmed his client. In addition, Fleetwood showed no remorse or understanding of his misconduct. In mitigation, Fleetwood presented two witnesses who testified to his good character. The order took effect April 25, 2014

Steven S. Hanagami, State Bar #165093, Rancho Santa Margarita (March 24, 2014). Hanagami, 54, was suspended for 30 days and placed on one year of probation for falsely reporting to the State Bar that he had met his minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) requirements when he had not, an act involving moral turpitude. After being contacted by membership services regarding an audit of his MCLE compliance, Hanagami completed the remaining 16 hours.

In mitigation, Hanagami had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1993. Also, he admitted to the misconduct and entered into a stipulation. The order took effect April 23, 2014

Barbara E. Irving, State Bar #108412, Sierra Madre (March 24, 2014). Irving, 72, was suspended for 90 days and placed on two years of probation for disclosing confidential information that was prejudicial to her clients’ reputation.

In June 2012 Irving was hired by a client to represent him and his family business in a breach-of-contract case. Irving also represented the client’s wife in an unrelated matter. The client’s wife was a potential witness in the breach-of-contract case.

In November 2012 Irving filed a motion to withdraw as attorney of record for the husband. In a declaration in support of her motion, Irving disclosed communications, observations, and personal opinions aimed at insulting and embarrassing the client and his wife. The information had no relevance to the breach-of-contract case, and it was potentially detrimental to both clients in other cases in which Irving represented them.

The clients did not authorize Irving to disclose the information in her declaration. Furthermore, disclosure was unnecessary to reasonably establish a breakdown of the attorney-client relationship.

In aggravation, Irving’s misconduct involved dishonesty and demonstrated bad faith. Her misconduct also caused her clients harm by exposing them to public embarrassment. In mitigation, Irving had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1983. Also, she entered into a stipulation. The order took effect April 23, 2014

Frederick T. Jelin, State Bar #105786, Los Angeles (March 24, 2014). Jelin, 65, was suspended for 90 days and placed on three years of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In July 2012 the State Bar Court publicly reproved Jelin for conduct on a commercial airplane that resulted in his criminal conviction for resisting arrest when he refused to leave the plane. Under the reproval order, Jelin was required to schedule a meeting with his probation officer to discuss the terms and conditions of his discipline. Jelin failed to do so, and he also failed to file required quarterly reports.

In aggravation, Jelin had a record of prior discipline. Also, he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing and demonstrated defiance toward the disciplinary process. In mitigation, Jelin cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect April 23, 2014

Scott G. Lyon, State Bar #199800, Manteca (March 26, 2014). Lyon, 44, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to promptly respond to reasonable status inquiries, failing to refund unearned fees, and failing to keep all agreements made in lieu of disciplinary prosecution.

In May 2011 Lyon was hired by a client to handle a bankruptcy matter. The client paid Lyon $1,000 in advance fees and $75 in costs. Thereafter, Lyon failed to communicate with the client, and he effectively withdrew from representing the client. In addition, Lyon failed to refund the $1,000.

In 2012 Lyon signed an agreement in lieu of discipline (ALD) regarding the matter in which he agreed to comply with specified duties for one year. However, he failed to submit four required quarterly reports and did not attend the State Bar Ethics School. Lyon also failed to timely pay his client restitution. Ultimately, Lyon complied with all the ALD requirements.

In aggravation, Lyon committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that caused his client significant harm. In addition, he demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. In mitigation, Lyon had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1998. Also, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect April 25, 2014

Brian D. McMahon, State Bar #147662, Playa Del Rey (March 26, 2014). McMahon, 57, was suspended for two years and placed on four years of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In February 2011 the California Supreme Court ordered that McMahon be placed on probation for three years, subject to certain conditions. However, McMahon failed to submit to a medical examination by a mutually agreed upon physician, failed to timely submit two quarterly reports, failed to timely submit eight monthly screening reports containing an analysis of his blood or urine, and failed to submit proof of attendance at the State Bar Ethics School and the Client Trust Accounting School. Finally, McMahon was required to make restitution payments to two former clients on the first of each month. He sought to have his restitution obligation reduced, and eventually he succeeded. However, he still failed to make monthly payments between April 2011 and October 2012.

In aggravation, McMahon had a record of prior discipline. Also, he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, McMahon entered into a stipulation with the State Bar. Also, he presented evidence from 14 character witnesses. The order took effect April 25, 2014

David L. Naples, State Bar #233928, La Habra (March 26, 2014). Naples, 46, was suspended for 120 days and placed on two years of probation for collecting advance fees in home-loan modification matters in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7, an act of moral turpitude.

Between March and August 2010 Naples offered to perform mortgage-loan modification services for five different clients. Each client paid Naples between $3,500 and $3,525 in advance legal fees. In addition, his clients were financially desperate; some had to withdraw funds from their savings or use a credit card to pay the advance fees. However, Naples did little or no work in connection with the services he promised. One client, who was on disability income, ultimately lost his home to foreclosure. Another was forced to perform her own short sale due to Naples’s negligence.

In aggravation, Naples committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed his clients and demonstrated a pattern of misconduct. In mitigation, Naples acknowledged his good faith, but mistaken, interpretation of the mortgage-loan modification statutes. In addition, he presented several character witnesses. The order took effect April 25, 2014

PROBATION

Joseph L. DeClue, State Bar #163954, Newport Beach (March 26, 2014). Joseph Lynn DEClue, State Bar # 163954, Newport Beach (March 26). DeClue, 61, was placed on two years of probation for collecting advance fees in home-loan modification matters in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7 and for failing to competently perform legal services.

In January 2013 a husband and wife seeking loan-modification services signed a retainer agreement provided by a nonattorney member of DeClue’s staff. DeClue charged an initial retainer fee of $3,000 as advance fees. Later that month DeClue submitted a qualified written request to the clients’ lender. The clients failed to qualify for necessary financing and were told by the nonattorney they needed to pay DeClue an additional $2,500. The clients then terminated DeClue’s services.

On January 29, 2013, unbeknownst to DeClue, his staff member personally demanded payment at the clients’ house. The staff member told the clients that DeClue would sue them if they did not pay the additional $2,500. DeClue later filed a complaint against the clients in small claims court for the attorneys fees, and he obtained a judgment in his favor. However, the clients appealed the judgment and had it overturned.

There was also one other matter involving similar misconduct warranting discipline.

In aggravation, DeClue committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed his clients. In mitigation, DeClue had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1993. Also, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect April 25, 2014

Raymond R. Miller, State Bar #144398, Castro Valley (March 26, 2014). Miller, 62, was placed on two years of probation for repeatedly issuing insufficiently funded checks drawn on his client trust account (CTA) and commingling funds, an act of moral turpitude.

In May 2012 Miller deposited $700 of his personal funds into his CTA for the purpose of paying client costs. Although he believed that he was required to pay advance costs from his CTA, this belief was mistaken and not a defense to commingling. Between May and June 2012 Miller paid three personal expenses totaling $530 from his CTA.

In aggravation, Miller had a record of prior discipline. In addition, the State Bar Court determined that Mil­ler’s admission that he maintained personal funds in the CTA as a hedge against mathematical errors showed uncharged misconduct. In mitigation, Miller’s misconduct did not harm any of his clients. The order took effect April 25, 2014

There are no recent disciplinary actions of this type.