People v. Layton.
No. 19PDJ056 (consolidated with No. 20PDJ030). Opinion Imposing Sanctions—Attorney Suspended. 5/14/2021.
A hearing board suspended Angelique Layton (attorney registration number 36480) for three years. To be reinstated to the practice of law in Colorado, Layton must prove by clear and convincing evidence that she has been rehabilitated, has complied with all disciplinary orders and rules, and is fit to practice law. The suspension took effect June 18, 2021.
Layton committed misconduct in four separate matters. In one domestic relations matter, she acted incompetently by failing to timely petition for review of a magistrate’s order. She also threatened opposing counsel with a disciplinary complaint to gain an advantage in the litigation. In another case, Layton failed to exercise basic competence when she ignored rules of civil procedure and rules governing the discovery process. In a third client matter, Layton acted incompetently by failing to follow rules of procedure, by failing to inquire who had authority to speak for and make decisions on behalf of her client, and by failing to conduct a basic investigation into the factual and legal basis for a complaint that she brought on her client’s behalf. In that same matter, she took direction from a third party while neglecting to consult with her client about the matter; failed to provide her client with a fee agreement or any kind of writing describing her fee; impermissibly revealed information related to her representation of the client; filed a frivolous and groundless lawsuit; failed to make efforts to comply with legally proper discovery requests; and prejudiced the administration of justice. Finally, in her disciplinary proceeding, Layton falsified an expert rebuttal report by knowingly misrepresenting that her expert authored and signed the report, even though the expert never wrote, reviewed, or signed the report.
Layton’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 1.1 (a lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client); Colo. RPC 1.4(a)(2) (a lawyer shall reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished); Colo. RPC 1.5(b) (a lawyer shall inform a client in writing about the lawyer’s fees and expenses within a reasonable time after being retained, if the lawyer has not regularly represented the client); Colo. RPC 1.6(a) (a lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent); Colo. RPC 3.1 (a lawyer shall not assert frivolous claims); Colo. RPC 3.4(b) (a lawyer shall not falsify evidence); Colo. RPC 3.4(d) (a lawyer shall not, in pretrial procedure, make a frivolous discovery request or fail to make a reasonably diligent effort to comply with an opposing party’s legally proper discovery request); Colo. RPC 4.5(a) (a lawyer shall not threaten disciplinary charges to obtain an advantage in a civil matter); Colo. RPC 8.1(a) (a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of material fact in connection with a disciplinary matter); Colo. RPC 8.4(c) (providing that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation); and Colo. RPC 8.4(d) (providing that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).