People v. Storey.
No. 20PDJ063. 11/10/2022. Opinion on Remand Imposing Sanctions.
February 4, 2023
On remand from the Colorado Supreme Court, a hearing board suspended Brenda L. Storey (attorney registration number 25828) for one year and one day. The suspension took effect on December 15, 2022. To be reinstated to the practice of law in Colorado, Storey 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.
During a marriage dissolution proceeding, Storey pressured her client to raise money to pay Storey’s legal fee by selling furniture and other marital property. Storey did so without advising her client of the possible risks to her client’s case. Storey’s client offered to pay Storey’s bill with a tax refund check for $47,578.43. The check was jointly issued to the client and the client’s husband, who was the opposing party in the litigation. But the client had not disclosed the check’s existence to the opposing party. Storey deposited the check into her trust account without counseling her client about the potential effect on the litigation and without investigating the reason the check had been issued. In the month that followed, Storey transferred the check’s funds into her operating account to pay her earned fees. But Storey did not advise her client to disclose the check to the opposing party despite the check’s materiality to salient issues in the case, including settlement negotiations and disputes over legal fees. During this time, Storey’s client sought Storey’s advice about disclosing the check. Storey did not respond for eight days, at which time she told her client to do whatever the client wished.
Through this conduct, Storey violated Colo. RPC 1.7(a)(2) (a lawyer must not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest); Colo. RPC 1.15A(a) (a lawyer must hold client or third-party property separate from the lawyer’s own property); Colo. RPC 1.15A(c) (a lawyer must keep separate any property in which two or more persons claim an interest until there is a resolution of the claims); and Colo. RPC 8.4(c) (it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation).