On November 26, 2008, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against Roy D. Cole for violation of Rules 1.8(a) (Conflict of Interest: Current Clients: Specific Rules), 1.15(a) (Safekeeping Property), 1.15(d) (Safekeeping Property), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Mr. Cole was hired by a client that gave Mr. Cole Power of Attorney entrusting items of personal property to Mr. Cole. Mr. Cole accepted property from his client without the proper safeguards in place; without keeping records; and without keeping the client’s property separate from his property. Mr. Cole did not provide an accounting which was full, accurate, and timely to his client. Mr. Cole failed to take steps to protect his client’s interests upon termination of the representation.
On November 26, 2008, the Honorable David L. Mower, Sixth District Court entered an Order of Discipline: Suspension for one year against Stony V. Olsen for violation of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.4(b) (Communication), 1.5(a) (Fees), 1.5(b) (Fees), 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Mr. Olsen was hired to represent a client’s interests in a bankruptcy action by objecting to the debtors’ discharge on the basis of fraud. Mr. Olsen was paid $1000. Mr. Olsen failed to provide his client with written notification of the basis or rate of his fee. Mr. Olsen attended the creditors’ meeting but did not file the objection. Mr. Olsen did not inform his client that he did not file the objection and of the subsequent discharge. After the client received the notice from the bankruptcy court, the client attempted to reach Mr. Olsen but was not immediately successful.
Later, Mr. Olsen filed a lien against the debtors’ property on behalf of his client even though the debtors had filed a bankruptcy action and their obligations had been discharged. The debtors’ counsel sent a letter to Mr. Olsen and his client informing them that the lien was improperly filed and demanded its release. Mr. Olsen’s client was at first unsuccessful in reaching him regarding the lien. Mr. Olsen did finally release the lien but did not return unearned attorney fees.
SUSPENSION AND PROBATION
On November 19, 2008, the Honorable Randall N. Skanchy, Third District Court entered an Order of Discipline: Suspension of two years and Probation of one year against Russell S. Hathaway for violation of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.2(a) (Scope of Representation), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.4(a)(2) (Communication), 1.4(a)(3) (Communication), 1.4(a)(4) (Communication), 1.4(b) (Communication), 1.5(a) (Fees), 1.15(b) (Safekeeping Property), 1.16(a) (Declining or Terminating Representation), 3.2 (Expediting Litigation), 3.4(c) (Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel), 3.4(d) (Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel), 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), 8.4(d) (Misconduct), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In summary there are six matters:
The six matters involved representation in two post divorce matters; two civil matters; a civil litigation matter; and a Qualified Domestic Relations matter. In the Qualified Domestic Relations matter, Mr. Hathaway did nothing after approximately seven months of representation.
In the divorce matters, Mr. Hathaway had inadequate communication with his clients; he had none in one case and a failure to notify of discovery requests in the other case. He also failed to respond to the discovery requests and motion to compel in the one divorce case.
In the two post divorce matters he was less than diligent in his work on the cases and his communication with the clients. In one case he sent a demand letter to the defendant’s wrong address and after having issues with an assistant, which affected his communication with clients and representation; he ceased work on the case; returned the file to the client but failed to return the retainer. In the second post divorce case, Mr. Hathaway mailed a demand letter but failed to communicate to the client on the status of anything else subsequent, including the failure to give an accounting.
In the civil litigation matters, Mr. Hathaway failed to file a counterclaim or answer in the case; failed to respond to discovery and failed to notify his client about the subsequent order compelling discovery and judgment for attorney fees. Mr. Hathaway’s client learned of a Default Judgment entered in the case from the client’s subsequent attorney.
In four of the six matters, Mr. Hathaway failed to timely respond to the Office of Professional Conduct’s Notice of Informal Complaint.
There are two Bruce Nelsons licensed with the Utah State Bar. In the last edition of the Bar Journal, the attorney discipline listed a Public Reprimand for Bruce L. Nelson, not to be confused with Bruce J. Nelson who has not been disciplined.