People v. Fillerup.
Nos. 22PDJ010 & 22PDJ023. 9/29/2022. Opinions Imposing Sanctions.
Following a sanctions hearing, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge disbarred Selvoy Peterson Fillerup (attorney registration number 43282). The disbarment was effective on November 3, 2022.
Fillerup represented a criminal defendant charged with second-degree murder. The client paid Fillerup over $10,000 based on the retainer agreement, which neither stated an hourly rate nor set forth benchmarks or other indicators for how Fillerup would earn the fee. Fillerup did not deposit any of the client’s funds into a trust account. After Fillerup successfully moved to withdraw from the representation while the case was pending, his former client requested a partial refund and the case file. Fillerup did not respond, return the file, or provide any refund.
In a separate matter, Fillerup contracted with the Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel (ORPC) to represent indigent parents in child welfare proceedings. In several cases, Fillerup failed to appear for hearings and twice failed to sign agreements necessary for his clients’ admission into the family recovery court program. When ORPC attempted to contact Fillerup about his failures to appear, Fillerup did not respond, leading ORPC to reassign Fillerup’s cases to other lawyers and to terminate his contract.
In a third matter, Fillerup, who represented a domestic relations client, failed to attend several appearances. Because Fillerup also failed to notify his client about the appearances, his client also did not attend. The court eventually held a default hearing in October 2021. Neither Fillerup nor his client appeared at the default hearing, and the court issued permanent orders based on the opposing party’s proposed parenting plan and proposed separation agreement. Fillerup failed to meaningfully respond to his client’s pleas for information about the case. The next month, child support enforcement authorities activated an income assignment against Fillerup’s client. The client later retained new counsel, who requested that Fillerup provide the case file. Fillerup never responded to the lawyer’s request.
Fillerup’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 1.3 (a lawyer must act with reasonable diligence and promptness when representing a client); Colo. RPC 1.4(a)(3) (a lawyer must keep a client reasonably informed about the status of the matter); Colo. RPC 1.5(h) (a lawyer must include specific benchmarks for earning a portion of a flat fee, if any portion is to be earned before conclusion of the representation); Colo. RPC 1.15A(a) (a lawyer must hold client property separate from the lawyer’s own property); Colo. RPC 1.16(d) (a lawyer must protect a client’s interests upon termination of the representation, including by giving reasonable notice to the client and returning unearned fees and any papers and property to which the client is entitled); and Colo. RPC 8.4(d) (it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).