Category Archives: Attorney Regulation

Cynthia H. Coffman, as Attorney General, and Julie Ann Meade, as the Administrator of the Uniform Debt Management Services Act, v. Lawrence W. Williamson, Jr., Esq.; Donald Drew Moore, Esq.; and Morgan Drexen, Inc., a California corporation, and Walter Joseph Ledda, 2015CO35 (May 26, 2015).

“It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.” – Jane Austen. Some companies offer debt-management services to debtors. Plaintiff is one of them. They are regulated by CRS 12-14.5-202. (the DMSA). Attorneys providing such services are exempt from regulation. Plaintiff (consisting entirely of nonlawyers) hired “local counsel” and sought “legal services exemption.” The Court, interpreting the DMSA with Colo.RPC 5.3, held that nonlawyer assistants may be exempt if they work for an attorney in substance, not just in name, and under the attorney’s supervision. Here, Plaintiff’s attorneys, some out-of-state , did not actually provide meaningful instruction or supervision. Although the Court, through CRCP 205.1, not the Legislature, regulates attorneys, the DMSA did violate the Separation of Powers doctrine. Thus, Plaintiff was subject to regulation.

https://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2014/14SA249.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=9789&courtid=2

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Robert Cikraji v. Daniel Snowberger, Superintendent, Durango Public Schools, Andrew Burns, Roxanne Perrin, David McMillian, Paul Angelico, Curt Wilson, 2015COA66 (May 7, 2015)

Opinion in pro se Plaintiff’s appeal published; parent was engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. The Colorado High School Activities Association’s bylaws allows athletes to compete on “any other team, in any non-school activity or event in that sport during that sports season with the express written permission of the principal.” Plaintiff’s son, a Durango HS athlete won a 10k cross country race in Ohio but did not get permission to compete and was suspended from one meet. Plaintiff, apparently an Ohio lawyer, sued on behalf of his son. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s dismissal. It noted many failures to comply with the CAR. And, Plaintiff engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by bringing claims on behalf of his son. Plaintiff’s case was dismissed because he failed to comply with CGIA notice requirements, depriving the court of jurisdiction.

https://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Court_of_Appeals/Opinion/2015/14CA1160-PD.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=9772&courtid=1

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Filed under Administrative, Attorney Regulation, Government, Proceedure

In the Matter of: Robert A. Rand – Public Censure, 2014CO11 (Feb. 10, 2014)

Judge Robert A. Rand, County Court Judge in Loveland Colorado was publicly censured and agreed to resign effective March 31, 2014. He entered into a Stipulated Resolution with Special Counsel pursuant to Rule 37(d) of the Colorado Rules of Judicial Discipline, which stated in part that Judge Rand engaged in undignified conduct including making comments about the physical appearance of people appearing before him and other inappropriate comments, and engaged in ex parte communications with parties or counsel. Pursuant to Colo. RJD 6.5(a), and “finding no good cause for the stipulated resolution to remain confidential or the record of proceedings to be sealed as permitted by Colo. RJD 40,” the Court made the stipulated resolution and the record of proceedings public.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2013/13SA172.pdf

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Just In Case Business Lighthouse, LLC, v. Patrick Murray, 2013COA112 (July 18, 2013)

“Integrity has no need of rules.” Albert Camus. There is no question that paying a testifying witness a contingent fee based on the outcome of the case is prohibited. But such evidence is not excluded per se. The court of appeals came to that conclusion because trial courts have discretion to admit testimony generally. Next, the court of appeals determined that the paid witness was properly permitted to summarize evidence already admitted into the record without violating CRE 602. Similarly, the witness’s summary exhibits were properly admitted, again because they were based on admitted evidence. Moving on, it held that a nonparty at fault could not be designated based on vicarious liability alone. The court then upheld the trial court’s decisions 1) to deny a directed verdict on a fraud claim and the economic loss rule and, 2) found a CRE 701 objection was not preserved for appeal.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Court_of_Appeals/Opinion/2013/12CA1261-PD.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=9033&courtid=1

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Filed under Appellate Review Challenged, Attorney Regulation, Contracts, Evidence, Torts

In the Matter of Betty Bass, 2013CO40 (June 24, 2013)

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” – Frank Herbert. In this attorney-discipline case, Attorney Bass was suspended from the practice of law, stayed subject to the successful completion of a two-year probationary period. The Office of Attorney Regulation later asked the Presiding Disciplinary Judge to revoke her probation. He did so after 4 months of attempting to serve her with the request. The date for the end of her probation passed. A week later the Judge revoked her probation and suspended her for a year and a day. She appealed, claiming that the Judge lacked authority to do so after the last day of her probation. The Court disagreed because only an affidavit of compliance and the issuance of an order certifying completion ends probation. Because that didn’t happen, she was still “on probation.” Thus, the Judge was authorized to order suspension.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2012/12SA89.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=8998&courtid=2

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Moye White LLP v. David I. Beren, 2013 COA 89 (June 6, 2013)

“We all get a second chance; it’s called tomorrow.” Anon. Moye White (MW) represented David Beren in probate litigation. MW employed and assigned to Beren’s case an attorney with a past of disciplinary proceedings, mental illness, alcoholism, and related arrests. MW sued Beren for its attorneys’ fees; Beren counterclaimed for breach of fiduciary duty claiming he should have been told about the attorney’s history. The court of appeals disagreed; a law firm does not have a duty to disclose such history to a client. Any risk posed by an attorney’s past conduct is speculative, and therefore not material. For the same reason, no ethical duty to disclose such information exists under professional conduct rules 1.4 or 7.1. The court of appeals also upheld costs awarded MW for uploading documents into a document review platform and costs incurred after a pretrial offer of settlement.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Court_of_Appeals/Opinion/2013/12CA0954-PD.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=8973&courtid=1

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Filed under Attorney Regulation, Contracts, Torts

In the Matter of Attorney G, 2013CO27 (April 22, 2013)

Like the thunk of a mechanical stamp on a wooden desk denying a passport application, the outcome of this case reverberates with the caption: “Rationale Disapproved.” An immigration attorney’s (“G”) representation is paid by the wife of a foreign citizen in deportation proceedings. The client was deported with an unpaid balance. G, who had obtained possession of the wife’s passport, kept it to secure payment pursuant to CRS 12-5-120, the retaining lien statute. The Attorney Regulation Counsel filed an ethics complaint under Colo. RPC 1.15(b) & 1.16(d). The Board dismissed since holding the passport was not impermissible. Exercising its plenary authority over attorney disciplinary matters, the Court determined that 12-5-120 doesn’t permit a lien on a passport, as it is the property of the federal government, not the client. Dismissal was upheld, but for different reasons.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2011/11SA239.pdf
http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=8911&courtid=2

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Filed under Appellate Review Challenged, Attorney Regulation

In Re Emily Liebnow v. Boston Enterprises Inc. d/b/a Giacomo’s, U.S. Foodservice, Tanimura & Antle Fresh Foods, Inc. et. al.

“The closed mouth catches no flies” – B. Franklin. This case involves the disqualification of an entire firm based on an unwaivable conflict of interest. Defense counsel had a friendly relationship with an out-of-state plaintiff’s Firm specializing in e-coli cases and consulted with a lawyer at the Firm about an e-coli case. Defense counsel followed some of his advice. In the same case, Plaintiff hired a different lawyer from the same Firm. The trial court denied pro hac vice admission, effectively disqualifying the Firm. The Court upheld the trial court’s ruling that under the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) an unwaivable conflict was created under RPC 1.7, and that RPC 1.10 imputed that conflict to the entire firm. The Court also held that RPC 1.7 conflicts apply to third parties, and here the conflict was unwaivable becase it undermined the fairness of the proceedings.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2012/12SA83.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=8823&courtid=2

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Filed under Appellate Review Challenged, Attorney Regulation, Personal Injury, Torts

Preview of the New Ralph Carr Judicial Center

Chief Justice Michael L. Bender and Attorney General John Suthers hosted a media tour of the Ralph Carr Judicial Center today, and the Colorado Litigation Report has posted a few photographs. For a sneak peak at the beautiful interior (though finishing touches are still being completed), click HERE.

Here is the Early Move-In Press Release with additional information about the building and its construction.

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Filed under Attorney Regulation, Commentary

In the Matter of Michael T. Miranda, 2012CO69 (November 27, 2012)

An attorney convicted of a felony is automatically disqualified from practicing law until the sentence is completely served, including parole. In this original proceeding in discipline, the Supreme Court reversed a Hearing Board conditional reinstatement of an attorney convicted of DUI/manslaughter and sentenced to 8 years in prison and 5 years of parole. The attorney sought, and was granted, reinstatement to the practice of law while still on parole. The Attorney Regulation Counsel appealed reinstatement, arguing that CRS 18-1.3-401 barred reinstatement as a matter of law. The Court agreed, emphasizing that parole is merely non-physical confinement, but not release from custody. Therefore, until such time an attorney on parole has completed the full sentence and is unconditionally released from custody, he cannot be reinstated to the practice of law.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2012/12SA112.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=8763&courtid=2

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