MAGAZINE
California Lawyer

DISBARMENT

Walter C. Appling, State Bar #53078, Arcadia (April 10, 2013). Appling, 72, was disbarred for failing to comply with rule 9.20 of the Rules of Court and failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. The order took effect May 10, 2013
Timothy C. Bryson, State Bar #140798, San Diego (April 10, 2013). Bryson, 61, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. Bryson was charged with accepting an advance fee for a loan modification matter in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7(a), failing to deposit and maintain client funds in trust, failing to competently perform legal services, improperly withdrawing disputed funds from a trust account, misappropriating funds, failing to render proper accounts, and failing to cooperate in a disciplinary investigation.

In aggravation, Bryson had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect May 10, 2013

William A. Clough, State Bar #114319, Auburn (April 10, 2013). Clough, 55, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. He had been charged with failing to competently perform legal services, malicious prosecution, and failing to obey a court order in connection with one client matter.

In aggravation, Clough had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect May 10, 2013

Douglas W. Davis, State Bar #132620, Malibu (April 10, 2013). Davis, 53, was disbarred for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In aggravation, Davis had a record of prior discipline. He engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing, and demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. In mitigation, he cooperated with the State Bar’s investigation and proceedings. The order took effect May 10, 2013

William J. Hamilton, State Bar #92688, Santa Monica (April 10, 2013). Hamilton, 64, was disbarred for failing to avoid interests adverse to a client.

In January 2001 a client sought consultation from Hamilton involving potential representation in a case involving an ongoing trust dispute. The following month Hamilton agreed to accept a painting in exchange for legal services on the case. The painting was delivered to him and the client signed a written agreement regarding the painting, which valued it at about $10,000. However, Hamilton did not advise the client to have the agreement reviewed by independent counsel. When Hamilton later had the painting appraised, he learned that its value was between $1,500 and $2,000. Nevertheless, Hamilton continued to work on the matter.

In May 2001 the client terminated Hamilton’s services and demanded return of the painting. Hamilton informed the client that he had put between $3,500 and $4,000 worth of billable hours into her case and would keep the painting. In July 2001 Hamilton sent the client a bill stating that he had performed $9,448 in legal services and that the client owed him a balance of $7,698. The client then filed a State Bar complaint against Hamilton.

In aggravation, Hamilton had a record of prior discipline. Also, he demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for the consequences of his misconduct. In mitigation, Hamilton entered into a partial stipulation with the State Bar. The order took effect May 10, 2013

Dennis R. Hoptowit, State Bar #61544, Chico (April 10, 2013). Hoptowit, 66, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. He had been charged with failing to release a client file and failing to cooperate in a disciplinary investigation. The order took effect May 10, 2013
Lon B. Isaacson, State Bar #64838, Los Angeles (April 10, 2013). Isaacson, 64, was disbarred for failing to maintain client funds in trust, engaging in acts of moral turpitude, and giving false testimony during disciplinary proceedings.

In aggravation, Isaacson had a record of prior discipline. In addition, he lacked candor in his testimony to the State Bar. The order took effect May 10, 2013

Edward S. Lee, State Bar #213775, Rancho Cucamonga (April 10, 2013). Lee, 45, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary hearing after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. He had been charged with failing to competently perform legal services, failing to inform clients of significant developments, failing to release a client’s files, and failing to cooperate in a disciplinary investigation. The order took effect May 10, 2013
Margaret J. Lowrie, State Bar #202253, Berkeley (April 10, 2013). Lowrie, 60, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. She had been charged with failing to competently perform legal services, aiding the unauthorized practice of law, failing to release a client’s file, failing to refund unearned fees, and committing an act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption. The order took effect May 10, 2013
Harry T. Miller, State Bar #104709, San Francisco (April 10, 2013). Miller, 78, was disbarred for failing to comply with rule 9.20 of the Rules of Court and failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. The order took effect May 10, 2013
Mohammad R. Nadim, State Bar #129366, Van Nuys (March 26, 2013). Nadim, 64, was disbarred for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to maintain client funds in trust, appearing for a party in court without authority, forming a partnership with a nonattorney, engaging in a business transaction with a client, aiding and abetting the unauthorized practice of law, failing to promptly pay client funds, failing to render proper accounts, failing to promptly return a client’s file, failing to cooperate in a State Bar investigation, and engaging in acts involving moral turpitude.

In December 2005 Nadim was hired to represent a client in a civil matter. He filed an action on the client’s behalf, and a trial date was set. However, Nadim failed to appear on three occasions, and as a result the complaint was dismissed.

When the client tried to obtain her file from Nadim, he refused to release it. The client retained new counsel, who also attempted to acquire the file. Nadim insisted that he needed a substitution of attorney form and additional fees before he would transfer the file.

In April 2008 the State Bar suspended Nadim for failing to comply with the reporting deadline for MCLE requirements. Despite being terminated from representation and under suspension, Nadim attempted to revive the client’s lawsuit in July 2008 without her consent.

In a second matter, in August 2007 Nadim was paid $1,000 to defend a client against an adverse civil judgment. After attempting to reach Nadim on several occasions, the client requested documentation of work done on his behalf and an accounting for fees paid. Nadim summarized steps he took to settle the client’s case, but he never provided the client with an accounting.

There were eleven other matters involving similar conduct warranting discipline.

In aggravation, Nadim had a record of prior discipline. He engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that caused his clients significant harm. Also, he demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. The order took effect April 26, 2013

Gary D. Olive, State Bar #176748, Los Angeles (April 10, 2013). Olive, 53, was disbarred for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to promptly refund unearned fees, failing to comply with rule 9.20 of the Rules of Court, and failing to cooperate with a State Bar investigation.

In November 2006 two clients agreed to pay Olive $3,500 to reopen an immigration asylum matter. In November 2008 Olive prepared and filed a motion to reopen applications for asylum. The Bureau of Immigration Appeals denied the motion. When Olive filed the motion, he knew that it was untimely and would be denied. He provided no legal services of value to the clients and did not refund the advanced fees.

In August 2011 a State Bar investigator requested Olive’s response to the clients’ complaints, but Olive did not respond.

In a second matter, in August 2011 Olive was suspended from the practice of law. He was served with a court order of suspension, which took effect the following month. While suspended, Olive filed a bankruptcy petition on behalf of a client. There were four other matters involving similar conduct warranting discipline.

In aggravation, Olive had a record of prior discipline. His conduct caused significant harm to his clients, and it demonstrated a pattern of misconduct. The order took effect May 10, 2013

Benjamin L. Pennacchio, State Bar #252242, Downey (April 10, 2013). Pennacchio, 32, was disbarred following his conviction for violating Penal Code § 288.3(a), contact with a minor for a sexual offense, a felony that may or may not involve moral turpitude. He failed to participate in the State Bar disciplinary proceedings after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so.

Pennacchio was arrested in March 2010 for engaged in ongoing communications with a 14-year-old girl whom he knew or should have known was a minor. He carried out these communications with the intent to commit a sexual offense involving the girl, chatting online with her for two weeks and speaking with her via phone and text messages. The victim told police that she and Pennacchio met three times, and hugged or kissed. The order took effect May 10, 2013

Jeanne M. Rowzee, State Bar #141784, Burtonsville, MD (April 10, 2013). Rowzee, 54, was disbarred following her conviction for violating Penal Code § 470(a), forgery, and Penal Code § 487(a), grand theft, both felonies involving moral turpitude. The conviction is now final, and the State Bar concluded that it met the criteria for summary disbarment. The order took effect May 10, 2013
Jerry A. Stevenson, State Bar #262798, San Diego (April 10, 2013). Stevenson, 43, was disbarred for accepting advance fees for loan modification matters in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7(a), failing to competently perform legal services, failing to adequately communicate with clients, sharing legal fees with a nonattorney, and failing to promptly refund advanced fees.

Between March and September 2011 several individuals hired Stevenson to negotiate plans with their mortgage lenders or creditors to restructure their home loan payments. All of the clients learned about Stevenson’s services from unsolicited direct mail sent to their homes. The letters contained personal information regarding the clients and their lender or bank, and they appeared to be generated with the lender’s authorization. Stevenson’s representative told the clients that their loan modifications would be personally handled by him and guaranteed that he would successfully complete the restructuring. However, after the clients paid advance attorneys fees, Stevenson did not complete the loan modification services.

In addition, Stevenson engaged in a business partnership with his office manager, a nonattorney with whom he shared legal fees. Stevenson delegated to the manager the tasks of accepting legal services, providing legal advice, supervising nonattorneys, and depositing client fees into joint accounts. Furthermore, Stevenson did not properly supervise his nonattorney staff and was only occasionally present at any of his law firm offices.

In each of the cases, Stevenson’s staff misadvised or falsely told the clients that the loan modifications were in the process of being approved. In addition, Stevenson failed to respond to the clients’ reasonable status inquires. All of the clients tried to obtain refunds, but Stevenson failed to return the advanced fees.

In aggravation, Stevenson had a record of prior discipline. Furthermore, his clients were seriously harmed, and he engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that demonstrated a pattern of misconduct. In mitigation, he cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 10, 2013

Kris P. Thompson, State Bar #154866, San Diego (March 26, 2013). Thompson, 55, was disbarred for failing to comply with rule 9.20 of the Rules of Court and failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. In aggravation, Thompson had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect April 25, 2013
Charles D. Trejo, State Bar #187529, Los Angeles (April 10, 2013). Trejo, 52, was disbarred for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In aggravation, Trejo had a record of prior discipline. He engaged in multiple acts of wronging and demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. In mitigation, Trejo entered into a stipulation with the State Bar. The order took effect May 10, 2013

SUSPENSION

Hieu D. Do, State Bar #179849, Westminster (April 24, 2013). Do, 46, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for violating court orders, failing to report sanctions, communicating about a client matter with a party represented by another lawyer, and threatening to present disciplinary charges to obtain an advantage in a civil dispute.

In January 2010 Do represented a client who was party to an adversary proceeding in a bankruptcy matter. He also represented the client in her divorce. In October of that year the bankruptcy court approved a settlement agreement. Do objected to the settlement order on behalf of his client, but his objection was overruled. The following month Do filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, violating the settlement order. The bankruptcy court imposed monetary sanctions against Do and his client for filing an action in violation of the settlement.

In January 2011 Do filed another action against another party, violating the settlement order. The bankruptcy court again imposed sanctions on Do and his client. The bankruptcy court then issued an order barring Do from serving as counsel in the bankruptcy matter. Do failed to report to the State Bar either of the monetary sanctions imposed on him.

In a second matter, Do sent a letter to yet another party in the bankruptcy matter despite knowing that the party was represented by counsel and without authorization by the other party’s counsel. Do later sent a letter to one of the attorneys for that party, threatening to report the attorney to the authorities in an effort to get him disbarred. He sent these letters for the purpose of obtaining an advantage for his client in the bankruptcy matter and divorce proceedings.

In aggravation, Do’s misconduct caused significant harm to the administration of justice. In mitigation, Do had no prior record of discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1995. Also, he cooperated with the investigation and entered into a stipulation. In addition, at the time of his misconduct he suffered extreme emotional problems. The order took effect May 24, 2013

B. K. Duren, State Bar #147789, Compton (April 10, 2013). Duren, 70, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to promptly refund unearned fees, failing to render appropriate accounts, and failing to keep a client reasonably informed.

In February 2010 a client hired Duren to file a lawsuit against her lender for various violations in its handling of a mortgage foreclosure. She paid Duren $10,000 in advance fees. The lender and other defendants all filed demurrers, arguing that the complaint failed to state facts constituting a cause of action. When Duren filed an amended complaint, the defendants once again filed demurrers. Duren failed to inform his client about the impending demurrers and failed to timely oppose any of them. He also failed to appear at a hearing on the demurrers. As a result, the demurrers were sustained and the client’s case was dismissed. Duren also failed to timely inform the client that her case had been dismissed. When the client requested a refund of the advanced fees, Duren refused and failed to provide her with an accounting.

In aggravation, Duren’s misconduct caused significant harm to his client. Also, his misconduct entailed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Duren had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1990. The order took effect May 10, 2013

Juan J. Gonzalez, State Bar #243647, Santa Ana (April 10, 2013). Gonzalez, 33, was suspended for two years and placed on three years of probation for accepting advance fees in loan modification matters in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7(a), failing to competently perform legal services, aiding in the unauthorized practice of law, failing to take steps to avoid reasonably foreseeable prejudice to a client, disobeying a court order, failing to respond promptly to reasonable status inquiries, failing to release client files, failing to render proper accounts, failing to refund an unearned fee, and engaging in acts involving moral turpitude.

In aggravation, Gonzalez engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed clients. Also, he demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for the consequences of his misconduct. The order took effect May 10, 2013

Don L. Slayton, State Bar #75052, Woodland Hills (April 10, 2013). Slayton, 71, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation for aiding in the unauthorized practice of law, sharing legal fees with a nonattorney, and failing to keep a client reasonably informed of significant developments.

In aggravation, Slayton committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that caused significant harm to a client. Also, he demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. In mitigation, Slayton had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1977. Also, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 10, 2013

Adrian H. Triminio, State Bar #192894, Fountain Valley (April 10, 2013). Triminio, 45, was suspended for 90 days and placed on three years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to pay sanctions, failing to keep a client reasonably informed of significant developments, and engaging in an act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In 2006 Triminio was retained to represent a client in a real estate fraud action. The client paid Triminio $13,000 in advance fees and costs. The defendants in the underlying lawsuit offered to settle for $18,000. The client refused to accept the settlement, but Triminio nonetheless accepted the offer on the client’s behalf. The court determined that the settlement was made and entered in good faith. Triminio thereafter failed to attend scheduled hearings, and the court imposed sanctions of $500 against him and his client for failure to prosecute. Triminio failed to appear at a dismissal hearing, resulting in the dismissal of the client’s action with prejudice. Triminio did not file a motion to set aside or vacate the dismissal, and he failed to pay any portion of the sanction. Throughout the proceedings, Triminio did not inform his client that he had accepted the settlement offer, or inform her of the subsequent hearings, including the dismissal, or otherwise communicate with her regarding significant developments in the matter.

In aggravation, Triminio’s misconduct caused significant harm to his client. Moreover, he engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Triminio had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1997. Also, he cooperated in the investigation and proceedings. The order took effect May 10, 2013

PROBATION

Frank B. Inglis, State Bar #66282, Sequim, WA (April 10, 2013). Inglis, 63, was placed on two years of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In aggravation, Inglis had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, he cooperated with the State Bar’s investigation and proceedings by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 10, 2013

Ashkan A. Motamedi, State Bar #228384, Laguna Hills (April 10, 2013). Motamedi, 45, was placed on three years of probation for representing multiple clients with a potential conflict of interest, failing to respond to client inquiries, failing to competently perform legal services, and improperly withdrawing from representation. Motamedi was hired to represent two clients to pursue personal injury claims as a result of a car accident. Motamedi filed a civil action on their behalf and obtained a favorable award for his clients in a judicial arbitration, which the defendants later rejected. After surviving a motion for summary judgment, the case was scheduled for a March 2009 trial. Throughout the process, Motamedi had trouble with the clients, who criticized his handling of the case and were unhappy with the arbitration award. Eventually, Motamedi talked to another lawyer about associating into the case as cocounsel, and he informed the clients that the other lawyer would be involved.

In January 2009, shortly before trial, further communication problems arose in the personal injury action. The other lawyer decided he did not want to associate into the case, and Motamedi was busy trying another matter. Around this time, Motamedi also began to suffer mental and physical problems that impaired his ability to practice law. As a result, he failed to appear at two trial-setting conferences.

In July 2009 Motamedi was administratively enrolled as inactive and ineligible to practice law due to his failure to provide proof of his compliance with MCLE requirements. After becoming ineligible, Motamedi had no further contact with the clients. The court eventually held a dismissal hearing on the personal injury case, although it was not dismissed because the clients hired a new attorney. In March 2010 Motamedi signed a substitution of attorney in the action.

In aggravation, Motamedi had a record of prior discipline. Also, he engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, during the period of misconduct Motamedi suffered physical and mental problems and was unable to practice law. The order took effect May 10, 2013

Kevin R. Riva, State Bar #186921, Riverside (April 10, 2013). Riva, 43, was placed on two years of probation for failing to promptly release client files upon withdrawal of representation and for failing to refund unearned fees.

In aggravation, Riva committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, he had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1996. Also, he cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 10, 2013

Vincent V. Shulman, State Bar #207105, Los Angeles (April 10, 2013). Shulman, 43, was placed on one year of probation for failing to promptly respond to a client’s reasonable status inquiries.

In mitigation, Shulman cooperated with the State Bar’s investigation and proceedings by entering into a stipulation. Also, he displayed remorse for his misconduct. The order took effect May 10, 2013

There are no recent disciplinary actions of this type.