Attorney Discipline

ADMONITION
On April 17, 2009, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Admonition against an attorney for violation of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 5.3(b) (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In Summary:
An attorney was hired to represent a client in a Social Security Administration matter. After the briefing schedule was set, the attorney missed the first deadline to file the brief on behalf of
the client. The attorney asked for an extension and was givenone. The attorney missed the deadline and asked for extensions six additional times. Ultimately, when the brief was not filed after the seventh extension of time, the Commissioner filed a Motion to Dismiss for failure to prosecute the claim. The attorney did not respond to the Motion to Dismiss on behalf of the client. The attorney failed to notify his client of the Motion to Dismiss. The case was dismissed. Although the attorney filed an appeal of the dismissal, the U.S. District Court upheld the dismissal. The attorney’s explanation for not filing the pleadings was that he
had delegated preparation of the documents to his paralegal.

ADMONITION
On April 10, 2009, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Admonition against an attorney for violation of Rules 5.3(a) (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants), Rule 5.5(a) (Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In Summary:
An attorney assisted a nonlawyer in the unauthorized practice of law. The attorney acknowledged that the nonlawyer had been in trouble in the past for the unauthorized practice of law. The attorney was aware that the nonlawyer was using business cards with the words “Legal Representative” on them. In spite of this, the attorney agreed to meet with the “clients” of the nonlawyer. The attorney was aware of at least one letter sent to a client
which by the letterhead implied that the nonlawyer was a lawyer and wherein the nonlawyer purports to provide legal advice to a client. The nonlawyer was clearly associated with the attorney. The attorney failed to supervise the nonlawyer’s activities.
INTERIM SUSPENSION
On March 30, 2009, the Honorable James R. Taylor, Fourth Judicial District Court, entered an Order of Interim Suspension Pursuant to Rule 14-519 of the Rules of Lawyer Discipline and
Disability, suspending Richard J. Culbertson from the practice of law pending final disposition of the Complaint filed against him.
In Summary:
On June 19, 2008, Mr. Culbertson pleaded guilty to and was convicted of three counts of Communications Fraud – 2nd Degree Felony, Utah Code Annotated § 76-10-1801, and one count of Pattern of Unlawful Activity – 2nd Degree Felony, Utah Code Annotated § 76-10-1601.
The interim suspension is based upon the felony convictions.
PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On March 16, 2009, the Honorable Kevin K. Allen, First District Court, entered an Order of Public Reprimand against Raymond N. Malouf for violation of Rules 1.2(a) (Scope of Representation and Allocation of Authority between Client and Lawyer) and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Mr. Malouf was further ordered to attend Ethics School, pay attorneys fees and costs to the OPC, and turn over disputed funds held in his trust account
to a bankruptcy trustee for resolution of ownership of the funds.
In Summary:
After a car accident, Mr. Malouf was hired to pursue a personal injury action on his client’s behalf. Mr. Malouf received an offer from the attorney for the opposing party’s insurance company to settle the matter for the policy limits. Mr. Malouf advised his client to accept the settlement offer but his client rejected the offer. In a later meeting, the client informed Mr. Malouf that he would get back to Mr. Malouf on whether to or not to settle the matter. Before the client responded back to Mr. Malouf, Mr. Malouf accepted the settlement and deposited the settlement funds into his trust account. Mr. Malouf believed that a better resolution was not possible. Mitigating factor: Absence of a dishonest or selfish motive. The Court found that Mr. Malouf acted in what he thought was in the best interest of his client.
PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On April 10, 2009, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against R. Bradley Neff for violation of Rules 1.15(a) (Safekeeping Property), 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In Summary:
Mr. Neff’s attorney trust account was deficient when a check was presented for payment. The account was deficient again one week later. Mr. Neff and his employee each wrote checks from
the account for the same amount. Only one check should have been written. Mr. Neff determined he was entitled to the excess money as earned fees. Mr. Neff made this determination without verifying the account balance or the amount owed to him. Therefore, Mr. Neff failed to keep his funds separate from those of his client. Mr. Neff failed to maintain accounting records for the account. Mr. Neff failed to respond to the OPC’s lawful request for information.

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