People v. Romero.
No. 22PDJ025 (consolidated with 22PDJ048). 9/5/2023. Opinion Imposing Sanctions.
October 13, 2023
Following a disciplinary hearing, a hearing board disbarred Douglas Leo Romero (attorney registration number 35464). The disbarment took effect on September 5, 2023.
In 2018, Romero charged an immigration client $3,500 to obtain a U visa, even though Romero knew that the client was likely ineligible for a U visa. During the 19 months that followed, neither Romero nor his firm performed any work of value on the client’s matter. In 2019, the client terminated the representation and demanded a refund of her fee, but Romero attempted to settle the matter by mailing the client a check for $500 and keeping $3,000 of the client’s money. Later, Romero informed disciplinary authorities on four separate occasions that a lawyer at his firm spent over 50 hours on the client’s case. But Romero’s firm kept no contemporaneous records showing what work it had performed for the client; moreover, the firm’s case file contained only two brief memoranda and an invoice, prepared after the representation ended, purporting to show that Romero’s staff worked just 21.6 hours on the client’s case.
In another matter, while Romero was suspended from the practice of law, he advised his firm’s client that she needed a prenuptial agreement and drafted the agreement for the client without the supervision of a licensed lawyer.
Finally, Romero failed to timely pay the costs he was ordered to pay in a prior disciplinary case until months after the deadline elapsed, despite knowing of the order and the deadline it imposed on him.
Through this conduct, Romero violated Colo. RPC 1.5(a) (a lawyer must not charge an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses); Colo. RPC 1.16(d) (a lawyer must protect a client’s interests upon termination of the representation, including by returning unearned fees and any property to which the client is entitled); Colo. RPC 3.4(c) (a lawyer must not knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal); Colo. RPC 5.5(a)(2) (a lawyer must not practice law where doing so violates regulations of the legal profession); Colo. RPC 8.1(a) (a lawyer must not knowingly make a false statement of material fact in connection with a disciplinary matter); and Colo. RPC 8.4(c) (it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation).