Disciplinary Case Summaries
March 1, 2023
No. 21PDJ079. Betterton-Fike v. People. 5/13/2022. Opinion Denying Reinstatement.
Following a reinstatement hearing, a hearing board denied W. Bradley Betterton-Fike (attorney registration number 36250) reinstatement to the practice of law under CRCP 251.29.
In April 2020, Betterton-Fike was suspended for eight months with the requirement that he petition for reinstatement, if at all, under CRCP 251.29(c). Betterton-Fike was suspended because he physically assaulted his wife, which constituted criminal conduct that reflected adversely on his fitness as a lawyer. The hearing board concluded that reinstatement was not appropriate because Betterton-Fike failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he is fit to practice law and that he has been rehabilitated from his underlying misconduct.
No. 22PDJ065. People v. Braden. 1/10/2023. Stipulation to Discipline.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ stipulation to discipline and suspended Alexander Scott Braden (attorney registration number 54616) for one year and one day. To be reinstated to the practice of law in Colorado, Braden must petition the Presiding Disciplinary Judge for reinstatement and prove by clear and convincing evidence that he has been rehabilitated from his misconduct, has complied with all disciplinary orders and rules, and is fit to practice law. The suspension was effective February 14, 2023.
On the night of February 20, 2021, Braden and his girlfriend drank heavily before returning to Braden’s apartment. Once there, Braden pulled out a pistol. When Braden’s girlfriend went to the bathroom to get ready for bed, she heard a gunshot, which was extremely loud and made her ears ring. A bullet hole was later found two feet from where she had been standing.
Braden walked toward his girlfriend holding the gun. Scared and crying, she asked him why he discharged the firearm in her direction. Braden threatened to blame her for firing the gun. Because she did not feel safe in the apartment, she packed her belongings and called Denver police. While waiting for officers to arrive, Braden texted her with the message, “just kill me.” Based on that text and Braden’s extreme intoxication, officers transported Braden to a medical detox center. In early April 2021, Braden signed an extreme risk protection order, relinquishing his firearms and his concealed carry permit for 364 days.
Later, on April 29, 2021, Braden was arrested after he harassed female patrons at a Denver bar and physically assaulted other patrons. He punched one person in the face and gouged another person’s eye. When a security guard demanded that Braden leave the bar, Braden struck him in the throat and fled. Braden later returned to the bar wearing a different shirt, and officers were able to apprehend him. Following a jury trial, Braden was convicted of assault, disturbing the peace, and interference with a police officer. He was sentenced to five days in jail with credit for two days served and a one-year period of probation.
Through this conduct, Braden 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(h) (it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in any conduct that directly, intentionally, and wrongfully harms others and that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness to practice law).
No. 22PDJ037. People v. Grewe. 12/27/2022. Stipulation to Discipline.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ stipulation to discipline and publicly suspended Stephanie Ellena Grewe (attorney registration number 47029) for six months, with 30 days to be served and the remainder to be stayed upon Grewe’s successful completion of a two-year period of probation, with conditions. The suspension was effective on January 31, 2023.
Beginning in December 2019, Grewe assisted a married couple with their immigration matter, which included applying for adjustment of status and I-131 travel documents. In January 2020, Grewe’s clients paid her $575 for the form I-131 filing fee. Grewe deposited the funds, including the government filing fees, directly into her operating account instead of her trust account. According to Grewe, she submitted the form I-131 to immigration authorities in December 2019 or January 2020. But no evidence shows that immigration authorities received the filing at that time.
Under the benchmarks set forth in Grewe’s flat fee agreement with her clients, Grewe was to earn 50% of her fee upon applying for the I-131 documents. In September 2020, Grewe sent her clients an invoice that showed a balance due of $2,000 of the $4,000 flat fee. Two months later, the clients contacted immigration authorities and learned that their I-131 application had not been received. The clients informed Grewe, who told them that she would seek to address the matter by filing a petition for writ of mandamus in federal court. But Grewe never filed the writ.
In December 2020, Grewe submitted the form I-131 to immigration authorities. The next month, Grewe’s clients twice requested an update but received no response. Grewe also failed to respond to the clients’ requests for updates in late January and February 2021.
Through this conduct, Grewe violated Colo. RPC 1.3 (a lawyer must act with reasonable diligence and promptness when representing a client); Colo. RPC 1.4(a)(3) (a lawyer must keep a client reasonably informed about the status of the matter); Colo. RPC 1.5(f) (lawyer does not earn fees until a benefit is conferred on the client or the lawyer performs a legal service); and Colo. RPC 1.15A(a) (a lawyer must hold client property separate from the lawyer’s own property).
No. 22PDJ009. McGannon v. People. 1/10/2023. Opinion Granting Reinstatement.
Following a reinstatement hearing, a hearing board reinstated Terrence Thomas McGannon (attorney registration number 15366) to the practice of law under CRCP 242.49, effective January 10, 2023.
In 2007, McGannon was suspended from the practice of law for two years. The suspension was premised on his criminal conviction for a class 4 felony of possession of methamphetamine, a schedule II controlled substance. The hearing board reinstated McGannon, finding that McGannon proved by clear and convincing evidence that he has been rehabilitated and that he is fit to practice law. The hearing board also found in its discretion that McGannon’s failure to comply with all disciplinary rules and orders should not prevent his reinstatement to the practice of law.
No. 22PDJ046. Spurlock v. People. 1/3/2023. Stipulation to Reinstatement.
Following an appearance by the parties under CRCP 251.29(j), the Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ stipulation and reinstated Stacy B. Spurlock (attorney registration number 34752) to the practice of law, effective January 3, 2023.
The parties agreed that Spurlock has been rehabilitated, has complied with disciplinary orders and rules, and is fit to practice law.
No. 20PDJ063. People v. Storey. 11/10/2022. Opinion on Remand Imposing Sanctions.
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).