People v. Layton.
No. 22PDJ032. 4/19/2023. Opinion Imposing Sanctions.
June 29, 2023
A hearing board disbarred Angelique Layton (attorney registration number 36480), effective May 24, 2023.
In July 2020, Layton misrepresented to the court presiding over her client’s dissolution of marriage case that she was working pro bono on her client’s case. In fact, Layton was billing her client but had not collected payment for the representation.
In June 2021, Layton’s law license was suspended in case number 19PDJ056 (consolidated with case number 20PDJ030). Even so, in October and November 2021, Layton guided her former client in the former client’s bankruptcy proceeding—in which Layton had filed a claim for her unpaid attorney’s fees—by sending the former client online articles discussing property law in Colorado. In addition, Layton sent an email to the bankruptcy trustee and the trustee’s lawyer, copying Layton’s former client, alleging that the opposing party in the dissolution case had filed a fraudulent claim in the bankruptcy matter. Layton and her former client would later assert the same position in both separate and joint filings in the bankruptcy case.
Meanwhile, Layton advocated for her former client’s interests in a commercial property after Layton paid money on her former client’s behalf in an effort to avoid foreclosure of the property. In October 2021, Layton sent a demand letter to the LLC that held a note secured by a deed of trust on the property. In that letter, Layton threatened legal action if the LLC did not accede to her former client’s demand for a reimbursement of funds; demanded an accounting of rental payments collected under the note on which her former client had defaulted; and asserted that the LLC’s effort to foreclose on her former client’s debt violated the stay in the former client’s bankruptcy case. In November 2021, after the LLC filed for judicial foreclosure of the property, Layton moved to intervene in the case and requested an emergency hearing regarding the appointment of the judicial receiver. In her filings, Layton asserted that her former client had not been properly served in the case, that the LLC failed to maintain the property during receivership, that her former client had the right to develop the property and to lease space in the property without interference, and that the foreclosure violated the stay in her former client’s bankruptcy case. Layton also made the latter argument in two emails to the bankruptcy trustee’s lawyer, again copying Layton’s former client.
Through this conduct, Layton violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c) (a lawyer must not knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal); Colo. RPC 5.5(a)(1) (a lawyer must not practice law without a law license or other specific authorization); Colo. RPC 5.5(a)(2) (a lawyer must not practice law where doing so violates regulations of the legal profession); and Colo. RPC 8.4(c) (it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation).