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Disciplinary Case Summaries

January 1, 2022


No. 21PDJ075. People v. Amos III. 10/25/2021. Stipulation to Discipline.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ stipulation to discipline and suspended Phillip D. Amos III (attorney registration number 47131) for six months, all to be stayed upon the successful completion of a two-year period of probation, with conditions, including therapy, abstinence from alcohol and mind-altering drugs, and alcohol testing. The probation took effect October 25, 2021.

Amos worked as a lawyer at a law firm from May 2018 until October 2020. In September 2020, an assistant was assigned specifically to work for Amos, who was experiencing personal issues and work-related stress at the time and who would sometimes drink in the office. On October 9, 2020, Amos and two other lawyers went to lunch; Amos consumed at least three or four beers, although his recollection thereafter is “hazy.” After returning to the office, Amos consumed more alcohol. That afternoon, Amos called his assistant into his office and began to ask her personal questions, including making queries about her girlfriend. He also commented on her body, inquired about her girlfriend’s body, speculated about her sexual history, and used derogatory language about her sexual orientation.

Although Amos has no memory of much of what he said or did during that afternoon, he does recall driving home early that evening. He acknowledges that he was intoxicated and should not have been driving. Although Amos was neither stopped nor charged with a criminal offense, he acknowledges that his ability to drive was impaired, meeting the elements of the offense of driving while ability impaired under CRS § 42-4-1301(1)(g). The law firm terminated Amos’s employment later that evening. The assistant eventually found working at the firm unbearable, as she kept recalling the incident. She also reported other negative effects stemming from Amos’s harassment.

Through this conduct, Amos violated Colo. RPC 8.4(b) (it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects) and Colo. RPC 8.4(i) (it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct the lawyer knows or reasonably should know constitutes sexual harassment where the conduct occurs in connection with the lawyer’s professional activities).

 

No. 21PDJ010 (consolidated with No. 21PDJ022). People v. Corry Jr. 11/12/2021. Conditional Admission of Misconduct.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ conditional admission of misconduct and disbarred Robert J. Corry Jr. (attorney registration number 32705). The disbarment took effect November 12, 2021.

In 2016, a client paid Corry $3,500 to challenge a Colorado Springs municipal ordinance that limited personal marijuana medical grows. Corry did not deposit the client’s money into a trust account. In 2018, Corry promised his client that he would send her a draft of the complaint, but he never did. Throughout 2019, Corry’s client pushed him to file the lawsuit and requested status updates about her matter, but he did not respond. In 2020, Corry failed to provide an accounting of his client’s fees at her request. Corry never filed the lawsuit, did not return his client’s unearned funds, and did not maintain proper account records of his client’s money.

Another client retained Corry’s firm in 2018 to represent her in anticipation of drug-related criminal charges. The client paid Corry $12,000 as a retainer; Corry did not place the funds in trust. The client terminated the representation before Corry had earned any of the retainer, but Corry did not refund her money upon termination. In spring and summer 2020, the client’s new lawyer sent Corry multiple requests for a refund; Corry responded only once and never returned the unearned fee. Corry also did not keep records of the client’s money.

Through this conduct, Corry violated Colo. RPC 1.3 (a lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness when representing a client); Colo. RPC 1.4(a)(3) (a lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of the matter); Colo. RPC 1.4(a)(4) (a lawyer shall promptly comply with reasonable requests for information); Colo. RPC 1.15A(a) (a lawyer shall hold client property separate from the lawyer’s own property); Colo. RPC 1.15(D)(a) (a lawyer shall maintain an appropriate recordkeeping system to track funds or other property held for others); Colo. RPC 1.16(d) (a lawyer shall protect a client’s interests upon termination of the representation, including by giving reasonable notice to the client and returning any papers and property to which the client is entitled); and Colo. RPC 8.4(c) (a lawyer shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation).

 

No. 20PDJ064. People v. Francis. 11/1/2021. Conditional Admission of Misconduct.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ conditional admission of misconduct and suspended Robert A. Francis (attorney registration number 06104) for three years, effective November 1, 2021. To be reinstated to the practice of law, Francis must prove by clear and convincing evidence that he has been rehabilitated, has complied with disciplinary orders and rules, and is fit to practice law.

In one matter, Francis initiated 28 related cases in at least five Colorado fora; Francis’s signature appears on the pleadings in all these lawsuits either as a litigant or in some representative capacity. Numerous adverse rulings and judgments in these lawsuits were issued against Francis by trial courts and the Colorado Court of Appeals between 2010 and 2021. In these rulings, Francis was specifically cautioned about the nature of his filings and was ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees. Among these rulings, the Pitkin County District Court found that Francis had “long engaged in a vexatious pattern of filing lawsuits for strategic purposes,” wasting judicial resources and driving up his opponents’ attorney fees in bad faith collateral attack lawsuits. Francis was barred from filing any lawsuits, pleadings, motions, or other papers of any kind in Pitkin County without an accompanying certification by a lawyer that the filing was well grounded in fact and law. Thereafter, the Colorado Supreme Court immediately suspended Francis’s law license on November 5, 2020; despite his immediate suspension, Francis filed defensive pleadings in several cases and initiated several other cases pro se. In September 2021, the Colorado Supreme Court enjoined Francis from “ever again proceeding pro se as a proponent of a claim in any present or future litigation in the state courts of Colorado.”

In a separate matter, Francis initiated several lawsuits and two appeals, all related to the same dispute. In one case, more than $20,000 in attorney fees and costs was assessed against Francis or related entities; in another case, well over $100,000 was ultimately awarded to the defendants. One court found that the claims Francis brought were not grounded in fact or warranted by law and were stubbornly litigious. Another court found that Francis’s claims were groundless and vexatious, part of a “seemingly unending campaign of baseless litigation.” That court found that Francis violated CRCP 11 and awarded attorney fees and costs against plaintiffs and Francis personally.

Through this misconduct, Francis violated Colo. RPC 3.1 (a lawyer shall not assert frivolous claims); Colo. RPC 3.3(a)(1) (a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal); Colo. RPC 3.4(a) (a lawyer shall not unlawfully obstruct another party’s access to evidence); Colo. RPC 3.4(c) (a lawyer shall not knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal); Colo. RPC 5.5(a)(1) (a lawyer shall not practice law without a valid law license or other specific authorization); Colo. RPC 8.4(c) (it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation); and Colo. RPC 8.4(d) (it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).

 

No. 21PDJ019. People v. Fry. 9/21/2021. Opinion Imposing Sanctions.

Following a sanctions hearing, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge suspended Christopher James Fry (attorney registration number 47482) for 18 months, effective October 26, 2021. To be reinstated to the practice of law in Colorado, Fry must prove by clear and convincing evidence that he has been rehabilitated, has complied with all disciplinary orders and rules, and is fit to practice law.

Fry did not adequately communicate with his client or exercise diligence in representing him. He charged the client excessive fees for work that remained uncompleted or that conferred little benefit. When his client terminated the representation, Fry did not cooperate with substitute counsel to act in his client’s interests, nor did he refund the client’s unearned funds. Instead, he knowingly filed frivolous pleadings with the court falsely asserting that his client had failed to pay legal fees.

Fry’s conduct violated Colo. RPC 1.3 (a lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness when representing a client); Colo. RPC 1.4(a)(3) (a lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of the matter); Colo. RPC 1.4(a)(4) (a lawyer shall promptly comply with reasonable requests for information); Colo. RPC 1.5(a) (a lawyer shall not charge an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses); Colo. RPC 1.16(d) (a lawyer shall 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); Colo. RPC 3.1 (a lawyer shall not assert frivolous claims); Colo. RPC 3.3(a)(1) (a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal); and Colo. RPC 8.1(b) (a lawyer shall not knowingly fail to respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority).

 

No. 21PDJ006. People v. Fulton Sr. 9/24/2021. Opinion Imposing Sanctions.

A hearing board suspended David Kenniston Fulton Sr. (attorney registration number 33729) for six months, all to be stayed upon Fulton’s successful completion of a two-year probation with conditions. The probation took effect October 29, 2021.

In 2016, Fulton represented a client and the client’s business entity in a deal to purchase a local business. Fulton charged a flat fee for his services but did not provide his clients with a written statement setting forth the basis of his fee before beginning the representation or within a reasonable time thereafter. Fulton lent his clients over $30,000 in connection with the representation but did not provide a written statement as to whether he was representing them in the transaction. When Fulton and his clients later amended the loan agreement, he failed to advise them to seek independent legal review of the transaction, nor did he obtain their written informed consent to his role in the matter, including whether he was representing them in the transaction.

In late 2017, the client and his wife retained Fulton—who was also a licensed real estate broker—for real estate and legal services related to locating and purchasing a new home. Fulton did not give his clients a written basis or rate of his fee and expenses before commencing the representation or within a reasonable time thereafter. In 2018, Fulton provided his clients over $30,000 in three transactions related to the representation. He failed to provide his clients with written disclosures describing the terms of the transactions and advising his clients of the benefit of obtaining independent legal counsel to review the arrangements. He also did not secure his clients’ written informed consent to his role in the transactions and to whether he was representing them in the matters.

Through this conduct, Fulton violated 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) and Colo. RPC 1.8(a) (a lawyer shall not enter into a business transaction with a client unless the client is advised to seek independent legal counsel and the client gives written informed consent to the transaction).

 

No. 21PDJ078. People v. Rohweder. 11/8/2021. Stipulation to Discipline.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ stipulation to discipline and suspended Kerry P. Rohweder (attorney registration number 17031) for nine months, all to be stayed upon the successful completion of a two-year period of probation, with conditions. The probation took effect November 8, 2021.

Beginning in 2012, Rohweder represented two clients in separate domestic relations cases. During the representations, the clients married each other but soon began having disputes. Rohweder, as a friend, agreed to help them work through their conflicts. In 2015, Rohweder withdrew from their respective cases. In 2016, one of the former clients filed for divorce. During the divorce proceeding, Rohweder prepared and signed an affidavit as an exhibit to a pleading. The affidavit described an altercation that Rohweder had observed between his former clients when he was still their lawyer. Rohweder also described in the affidavit the abusive nature of one of the former clients, including divulging details about the former client’s conduct that Rohweder observed during the representation. Rohweder later provided the same information to the parental responsibilities evaluator assigned to the divorce case. The evaluator included the information in a confidential report prepared for the case.

Through this conduct, Rohweder violated Colo. RPC 1.9(c)(1) and (c)(2) (a lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not reveal information related to the representation or use information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of the former client).

 

No. 21PDJ081. People v. Wiegand II. 11/10/2021. Stipulation to Discipline.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ stipulation to discipline and publicly censured Robert Wiegand II (attorney registration number 07463) with the condition that he complete seven hours of continuing legal education related to estate planning. The public censure took effect December 15, 2021.

Between January and April 2019, Wiegand prepared an amendment to his client’s living trust to add Wiegand as a co-trustee. But Wiegand did not fully advise his client about the conflict of interest that would arise from his different duties as her lawyer and as a trustee, nor did he explain to her how the conflict would create a significant risk of materially limiting his representation of her. He did not obtain her informed written consent waiving the conflict. Wiegand also did not inform his client that she would not be able remove him as trustee under the amendment, or that he would remain a trustee and continue to charge fees for his trustee services if she terminated his representation as her lawyer. The parties to the trust executed the amendment in April 2019. In November 2019, Wiegand’s client terminated his representation and asked him to resign as a trustee. The terms of the trust, however, required that beneficiaries unanimously consent to the removal of a trustee, and Wiegand did not resign. The next year, Wiegand and another co-trustee filed an action in Arapahoe County District Court for a declaration on the validity of the amended trust and other testamentary documents related to the trust, and for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether a guardian ad litem should be appointed for his former client as to matters involving the trust.

Through this conduct, Wiegand violated Colo. RPC 1.4(b) (a lawyer shall explain a matter so as to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation) and Colo. RPC 1.7(a)(2) (a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest).