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MCLE Self-Assessment Test
 
 

Below is a list of seven attorneys who were suspended and/or placed on suspension by the State Bar as a result of misconduct. The list covers Dec. 1 through Dec. 31, 2016. See an explanation of common discipline terms.

  1. RICHARD EUGENE HARROLD
  2. DOLORES VICTOR
  3. RICHARD ALAN DONGELL
  4. THOMAS MARTIN
  5. JENNIFER Y. SUN
  6. JOHN E. SWEENEY, JR.
  7. LYNN HUBBARD III

RICHARD EUGENE HARROLD [#255163], 41, of Bakersfield, was suspended from the practice of law for 30 days and ordered to take the MPRE. He was also placed on three years’ probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Dec. 4, 2016.

In November 2016, Harrold, a Kern County prosecutor, appeared at 21 hearings on behalf of the State of California when he was not entitled to practice law, which constitutes moral turpitude. Harold did not open multiple emails and letters asking him to submit information in response to an audit of his compliance with Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) rules and did not pay a $75 late fee which led to his being placed on “not entitled” to practice law status.

In aggravation, Harrold engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, he contacted the State Bar and complied with the MCLE audit requirements upon learning of his not entitled status. He also worked to identify all the cases he appeared in while he was not entitled, cooperated with the State Bar, showed remorse, entered into a prefiling stipulation and has done community service.

DOLORES VICTOR [#221720], 58, of Vallejo, was suspended from the practice of law for 90 days and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. She was also placed on two years’ probation and faces a two-year suspension if she does not comply with the terms of her disciplinary probation. The order took effect Dec. 4, 2016.

Victor stipulated to misconduct in three matters. In November 2014, she provided legal advice to a client, filed a civil complaint and collected a $5,000 fee from her client while ineligible to practice law due to noncompliance with her Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirements.

Victor had previously reported under penalty of perjury she had completed 25 hours of required MCLE when she had not. As a result, the State Bar placed her on inactive status. On Jan. 27, 2015, she provided proof of her MCLE compliance and paid a $200 reinstatement fee.

She also provided legal advice to another client during that time period when she could not practice law, used an ATM card linked to her client trust account to pay personal expenses on more than 100 occasions and misappropriated through negligence $4,989.47 of the $5,000 in advanced costs her client had paid her.

In aggravation, she committed multiple acts of misconduct.

In mitigation, she had no prior record of discipline, was suffering from a series of serious health conditions at the time of her misconduct, presented the State Bar with 12 character references, admitted her misconduct, paid restitution and entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar.

RICHARD ALAN DONGELL [#128083], 55, of Lakewood, was placed on probation for two years and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Dec. 4, 2016.

In August 2013, Dongell was driving with his two 13-year-old children when he tried to make a right turn and sideswiped another car. The children were not injured. He failed field sobriety tests administered by police and was found to have a blood alcohol level of .222 percent, almost three times the legal limit.

A State Bar Court hearing judge recommended Dongell receive discipline that included a one-year stayed suspension for misdemeanor convictions for driving under the influence. The Office of Chief Trial Counsel appealed, asking that Dongell’s misconduct be found to constitute moral turpitude.

A three-judge review panel affirmed the hearing judge’s decision and adopted the judge’s discipline recommendation.

In mitigation, he had no prior record of discipline, was suffering from emotional difficulties at the time of his misconduct, entered into an extensive stipulation with the State Bar and presented evidence demonstrating his good character.

THOMAS MARTIN [#102208], 63, of Kamuela, Hawaii, was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Dec. 4, 2016.

In 2015, Martin failed to remove personal funds from his client trust account and wrote three checks from the account – to the Hawaii Medical Administration Association, the state tax collector and to his spouse – that covered personal expenses.

In mitigation, he had no prior record of discipline and entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar.

JENNIFER Y. SUN [#220643], 47, of Diamond Bar, was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if she fails to comply with the terms of her disciplinary probation. She was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Dec. 4, 2016.

Sun falsely reported under penalty of perjury that she had completed her required Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) hours when she hadn’t. She took the necessary courses after being contacted in connection with an MCLE audit.

In mitigation, she had no prior record of discipline, presented evidence from seven character witnesses, showed remorse, entered into a prefiling stipulation with the State Bar and has done community service.

JOHN E. SWEENEY, JR. [#37042], 80, of Simi Valley, was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Dec. 4, 2016.

In one matter he was disciplined for, Sweeney failed to promptly release a client’s papers and property after the client hired a new lawyer. He also failed to provide an appropriate accounting after the client’s new lawyer repeatedly asked for one.

In a second matter, in which he represented a client in a legal malpractice case, he failed to promptly return his client’s papers and property or provide an accounting of $15,000 in advanced fees she paid him. The client ultimately received the accounting from the State Bar after Sweeney provided one during a disciplinary investigation.

In aggravation, Sweeney engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, he had no prior record of discipline, provided evidence of his good character and entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar.

LYNN HUBBARD III [#69773], 76, of Chico, was suspended from the practice of law for one year and until he provides proof to the State Bar Court of his rehabilitation, fitness to practice law and learning and ability in the general law. He was also placed on three years’ probation and faces a two-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He was also ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Dec. 29, 2016.

A State Bar Court hearing judge found Hubbard culpable of misconduct in three federal district court cases, including that he made misrepresentations to two federal district courts and to opposing counsel. Both Hubbard and the State Bar appealed the hearing judge’s decision, which called for a one-year actual suspension.

A three-judge review panel affirmed the hearing judge’s culpability findings but found more aggravating factors and fewer mitigating ones.

In one of the cases, Hubbard failed to report to the State Bar within 30 days $1,110 in sanctions for missing a court-ordered scheduling conference. Hubbard also represented his gravely ill mother in a suit against a shopping center alleging violations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In December 2009, nearly a month after his mother’s death, Hubbard faxed settlement agreements to two shopping center businesses, Hot Topic and Flava, without disclosing his mother had died. On the agreements was his late mother’s forged signature. At a settlement conference on Feb. 25, 2010, Hubbard informed the court for the first time that his mother had died and falsely claimed, among other things, that his mother had signed the agreements before her death.

A federal judge found that Hubbard had engaged in “deceptive and punishable conduct” by not informing counsel for the two businesses that his mother’s signature was forged and that Hubbard misled opposing counsel and concealed facts.

In another lawsuit which Hubbard filed under the ADA, Hubbard’s client claimed to have visited a McDonald’s and experienced barriers on several occasions, including for the first time on Jan. 8, 2013. Submitted as evidence was a Jan. 8, 2013 receipt and photographs the client claimed he had taken while at the restaurant. Surveillance video later revealed that Hubbard and a female companion were at the restaurant on the day in question and that they received the receipt after ordering a soda. Hubbard later claimed he made an “honest mistake,” that the receipt was received during an inspection he had done of the restaurant and had inadvertently been included in his client’s file, and the client had actually visited the business several times before January 2013.

The State Bar Court review panel found that Hubbard engaged in multiple acts of misconduct, his misconduct caused significant harm to opposing counsel and his client in the McDonald’s matter and that he showed indifference to his misconduct, noting that the judge’s findings in the earlier case involving Hubbard’s mother should have put him on notice of his ethical duties as an attorney.

In mitigation, he had no prior record of discipline and presented a wide range of references in the legal and general communities, who attested to his good character. He also received limited mitigation for cooperating with the Office of Chief Trial Counsel at trial.