1. SBA Conceals Charges from Attorney-Victims
2. SBA Bleeds the Subject Dry
3. SBA Shelters Immune Attorneys
4. Reader Reactions
(1) SBA Conceals Charges from Attorney-Victims
The disciplinary process is unfair to the Respondent from the outset, typically, because SBA does not provide the Respondent (attorney-victim) with any statement of its allegations.
At the end of this section is reproduced verbatim (only names and dates have been omitted) a typical initial letter noticing the beginning of an SBA disciplinary investigation. The letter commands the addressee to respond, allowing ten days. (This deadline conflicts with Arizona statute, 17A A.R.S. Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona, R. 55(b)(1), allowing twenty days.) However, the letter does not say to what allegations he or she is supposed to respond. In other words, at the outset of a disciplinary investigation, SBA does not disclose what specific alleged acts, behaviors or omissions the Respondent is required to answer to.
The letter refers to a "charge." This, however, is a misnomer. SBA does not formulate any charge at this stage. Rather, the document alluded to in the letter as a "charge" may be a written complaint by a rival attorney (SBA does not shy away from interfering in ongoing litigation), client or ex-client, or member of the public; a court paper; or some other document. Generally, the attached "charge" document is is not formulated by SBA or Staff Bar Counsel and is not self-explanatory, nor in some instances is it coherent or intelligible. Staff Bar Counsel at this stage leaves it to the Respondent to try to figure out what the document attached to SBA's initial letter has to do with any of the ethical rules ("Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct") enumerated in 17A Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona, R. 42. The Respondent must respond within the deadline arbitrarily set in the initial letter; otherwise, (s)he is subject to an allegation of failure to cooperate with SBA.
Readers of this website have suggested that SBA's "you-figure-it-out" method of notice is not due to indolence on the part of Staff Bar Counsel alone. Rather, the suggestion is that Staff Bar Counsel hopes that when responding, the attorney-victim will make a misstatement or disclose information that will give the Bar ground to expand its investigation and/or enlarge upon charges. As far as AZAACPR has been able to determine, SBA Staff Bar Counsel never takes the initiative to conduct research properly, such as by obtaining and examining court files, when it initiates a disciplinary investigation.
That in a disciplinary matter, SBA fails to disclose allegations and does not, at the outset, apprise the Respondent as to what charges are contemplated violates the Respondent's individual rights under the U.S. Constitution, Fourth Amendment. This practice is also contrary to the right to privacy and due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. It is a prime reason why SBA's disciplinary practices are aptly to be characterized as Inquisitional.
After the initial letter and any other preliminaries, unless Staff Bar Counsel dismisses the matter, the next step in discipline is for Staff Bar Counsel to get a committee, called the Probable Cause Committee, to lend an imprimateur of due process, by approving Staff Bar Counsel's finding of probable cause. At this stage, Staff Bar Counsel makes a statement about the matter of any length he or she desires to the Committee, while the victim-attorney is disadvantaged by being permitted to submit a rebuttal limited to five pages. (17A A.R.S. Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona, R. 55(b)(2)(B).) The Probable-Cause Committee operates in rubber-stamp fashion and endorses whatever the Staff Bar Counsel recommends, irrespective of the merits of the matter. With that, the matter becomes a "charge." Whether the charge is resolved immediately by so-called "discipline by consent" (plea-bargaining) or goes on to become a formal proceeding, SBA stands to gain financially by imposing "costs of discipline" (see below, ) on the Respondent.
The limitations on space for rebuttal and the fact that the initial letter does not specify a time limit for response in accord with the Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court, but imposes arbitrary time limits for response instead, are additional factors that make the Bar's disciplinary practices of an Inquisitional character.
Staff Bar Counsel's customary practices amount to abuse of process. The seriousness of the consequences of the Respondent's failing to prevail in the ensuing discipline contest is considerable. (Concerning SBA's armamentarium of sanctions, see id.) This makes SBA's notice policies both unfair to the state's Bar as well as odious.
TEXT OF SBA DISCIPLINARY INVESTIGATION INITIAL LETTER
State Bar of Arizona (LOGO)
Assistant's Direct Line: 602-340-etc.
Re: State Bar File No. xx-xxxx
Dear (Attorney-Victim Name):
The State Bar recently received a bar charge against you. A copy of the charge is enclosed.
I am considering whether this charge warrants a screening investigation. Your informal response will be helpful to our determination. Please submit a written, informal response to the charge within ten (10) days of the date of this letter. If you fail to respond timely to this request, this matter will be referred to the Lawyer Regulation Office of the State Bar to undertake a formal disciplinary investigation.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.
Staff Bar Counsel
In 2014, the Arizona Courts announced and ordered that supplementing SBA Staff Bar Counsel, it will now begin to squander SBA member dues to create a salaried new class of bar counsel called "Independent Bar Counsel," initial appointments for which have already been distributed to long-favored pet attorneys--Arizona lawyers who have been associated for many years with the disciplinary operations (dirty tricks) of SBA. (See http://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/22/admorder/Orders14/2014-11.pdf.)
(2) SBA Bleeds the Subject Dry
SBA Staff Bar Counsel intentionally procure excessive and unreasonable disciplinary sanctions by financially bleeding dry their targets, thereby forcing them into submission.
The Bar itself can and does initiate disciplinary actions without evidence that a client is dissatisfied. Per present Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court, Staff Bar Counsel can decide on the basis of a signed complaint (from a concerned member of the public, a disgruntled client, a rival attorney, or anybody whatsoever); an unsigned complaint; or no complaint at all, that a member has violated some one or more of the attorney ethics rules alluded to in this page above (see above, ).
Staff Bar Counsel, on deciding to target a member for discipline, can produce a statement (any length) about the matter to a Probable Cause Commitee. The committee is constituted by SBA. The member ("Respondent") receives a copy of the statement and has a few days to provide a rebuttal, limited to five pages, irrespective of the length of Staff Bar Counsel's charging document. (See above, ).
The Probable Cause Committee endorses whatever Staff Bar Counsel recommends, regardless of the merits of the matter. With that, the matter becomes a "charge."
Whether the charge is resolved immediately or goes on to become the nexus of formal proceedings, SBA stands to gain financially at the member's (Respondent's) expense.
SBA's sanctions alternatives are diversion (similar to probation, but officially an "alternative to discipline"); censure (formal reprimand); probation (a period of being constantly monitored and supervised in one's practice, which can be hard to explain to an employer ... and which can be imposed concurrent with or without "MAP" (see this website, page header SBA "Member Assistance Program") or other conditions); suspension (which can be imposed concurrent with or without other conditions); and disbarment.
Typically, once a disciplinary matter becomes a "charge," Staff Bar Counsel puts to the subject ("Respondent") a chance to avoid formal proceedings by accepting one of these sanctions ("discipline by consent").
SBA currently bills a member as much as $1200 (far more than the cost of joining the Bar, and a testimonial to the mercenary stance of SBA toward members) as its "costs" when the member is persuaded to accept "discipline by consent." Consent to discipline entails confessing to the "charge" and agreeing verbatim to whatever sanction or sanctions Staff Bar Counsel dictates.
By agreeing to discipline by consent, the Respondent can escape much higher costs and much more severe sanctions. If the charge becomes a matter for formal proceedings, within 90 days, by Arizona Supreme Court rule, it must be heard in a formal disciplinary hearing. The hearing may last for one or more days. It is convened before a Presiding Disciplinary Judge (currently, William J. O'Neil of Pinal County). He is joined in the hearing by panel including two other persons, one a lawyer and one not a lawyer, to give the impression that the outcome is not purely the Judge's decision. There is evidence that the appointment of panelists has been fraudulently manipulated to give a false appearance that panelists take decisions independent of Judge O'Neil; see this website, page header "SBA Member Assistance Program," [a].
If a Respondent chooses to fight the charge, the PDJ in most instances imposes a sanction of suspension from practicing law. If, as is increasingly the case (especially for non-Caucasian females not serving large influential law firms), the suspension exceeds six months and a day, the Respondent has to apply for reinstatement to the practice of law, and cannot be reinstated until she (or he) undergoes not only the discipline stated in the final hearing Order, but also any additional discipline that the PDJ, single-handedly, decides to impose at that time. At the outset of the sentence of discipline, the Respondent cannot have any idea what that additional discipline might be. Thus sanctions can be extended ad infinitum, and often are extended, especially against women and minorities who don't work for large influential law firms.
In addition, if choosing to fight, the Respondent incurs monetary charges for formal proceedings. She is billed to compensate the Bar for the puported cost of its time, labor and materials in prosecuting the charge, in addition to separate charges levied by the PDJ to compensate him for his time and supposed costs. Bar impositions for its "costs" may amount to $4000 or more, depending on the length of the hearing. The separate statement of PDJ's "costs" may run into the hundreds of dollars. These charges are separate from and in addition to what a Respondent pays a lawyer for representation in a formal disciplinary matter, which may be from $10,000 to $60,000 (or higher). It bears emphasizing that the SBA disciplinary cast did not include any such personage as a Presiding Disciplinary Judge until the beginning of 2011. A Presiding Disciplinary Judgeship was created then for the purpose of dealing with the controversial Maricopa County Attorney disbarment matter. (See http://azcourts.gov/pdj/ThomasAubuchonAlexander.aspx.) Bringing a Presiding Disciplinary Judge into the disciplinary process has not benefited members of the Bar in any way whatsoever. Certainly, it has not increased the consistency of standards for imposing discipline; Judge O'Neil has imposed discipline at his personal whim and without regard for consistency or proportionality. (See instances cited below.) The main effect of the institutionalizing of a PDJ has been, for Respondents, to make even more financially strangling the disciplinary process than ever before, because now the PDJ adds his charges to the burden.
Most attorneys' professional liability insurance does not cover anything approximating the Respondent's full costs in a formal disciplinary proceeding.
SBA monetary impositions, as a form of discipline, tend to be a disproportionate burden on women Bar members because of their statistical lower earnings relative to their male counterparts. For a case in which SBA's disciplinary apparatus wasted amazing amounts of staff time and effort in hounding an impecunious female for being unable to scratch together disciplinary impositions in the amount of $225, see http://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/36/2009_scanned/HO_Reports/SchafferHOrpt.pdf.
To assure that it "gets" its girl (or guy), if a Respondent does not accept "discipline by consent," but prefers to defend the charges through a formal proceeding, the SBA has a favorite tactic of adding on another, unrelated charge against the same Respondent. The second charge is filed about the same time, but under a different disciplinary file number.
Whether the second charge is justified or not is immaterial to the SBA's principal motive, revenue; and its secondary motive, Staff Bar Counsel's need to make a show of earning its salary by nailing another lawyer.
By slamming a Respondent simultaneously with more than one charge, the SBA can at least nail the Respondent on the second matter, even if the Respondent successfully defends the first. This is because virtually no Respondent will not be financially wiped out attempting to defend two successive formal proceedings. Thus an attorney who reacts indignantly to, and tries to defend, a bogus or weak first charge will lack the wherewithal to do anything, other than to cave in, when added to the mix is a bogus or weak second charge.
When SBA demands that a Respondent sign an agreement to "discipline by consent," its agreement form (like the MAP "Therapeutic Contract"--see this website, page header SBA "Member Assistance Program," ) recites that the member is agreeing out of free will and without coercion. Of course, this is sheer prevarication. In view of the monetary cost to a Respondent of defending a Bar charge (particularly when the charge is compounded through SBA's gang-bang-'em-with-charges tactic), victims have little choice but to sign their acquiescence. In this, SBA not only propounds a lie, but forces rank and file lawyers into complicity with its lying.
Presiding Disciplinary Judge William J. O'Neil's role in this is, very often, to issue unreasonable orders the like of which would not be tolerated in the mainstream criminal judicial system. In one matter, wherein the defendant attorney was accused of fraudulent conduct (including manufacturing forged documents), the Judge reviewed the case after the attorney had completed a term of suspension. The Judge rejected the evidence of numerous witnesses, including clergy, that the attorney had changed and was repentent. Neither would the Judge offer any path for the chastened attorney to resume practicing law. The suspension thereby became an effective disbarment. Judge O'Neil would neither make an order of record rendering the attorney disbarred, nor would he say what evidence might have a snowball's chance of convincing him that the attorney was ready for resuming practice. All the Judge would say in justification of rejecting the defendant's appeal for reinstatement was that the defendant had not done enough to convince the Judge of rehabilitation. While AZAACPR does not defend or condone the alleged misconduct in this matter, it nevertheless appears Judge O'Neil enjoys forcing some people whose livelihood derives from the legal profession to put their lives on hold forever at his whim, unable to guess what would satisfy His Implacable Honor as evidence of rehabilitation. See http://azcourts.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=p37twSyE5IM%3D&tabid=6328&mid=9266.
As this instance shows, once an attorney is suspended or otherwise under discipline, the PDJ has discretion to continue the discipline indefinitely and never bring it to a close; it is like the perpetual punishment depicted in the old Paul Muni movie I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang. For another, similar example, see http://sonoranalliance.com/2013/03/13/another-conservative-attorney-targeted-by-state-bars-disciplinary-judge-oneil/. In January, 2014, Judge O'Neil petitioned the Arizona Supreme Court to amend its rules to make all disbarments permanent and irreversible; see http://azdnn.dnnmax.com/Portals/0/NTForums_Attach/1110105682731.pdf.
For another example of Judge O'Neil's unreasonable excess in imposing discipline, consider a news report that an attorney was suspended for five years without being offered a hearing on the suspension: see http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/attorney-grant-goodman-suspended-without-a-hearing. A perusal of documents in that matter (links are provided on that website) discloses that on July 21, 2011, Judge O'Neil issued an order of interim suspension against a Phoenix attorney, Mr. G. An order of interim suspension is a device recommended by SBA when it wants to summarily prevent an individual from practicing law without the benefit of a hearing.
One would reasonably suppose that SBA would only recommend this device when there is urgent need, but there was no urgency as regards the alleged actions of Mr. G. It appears, rather, that as a satellite agency of the Supreme Court of Arizona, SBA was after Mr. G. for what it termed "vexatious conduct" in the form of his acting in such a manner as to call attention to the inadequacies of the Supreme Court's oversight of licensed private fiduciaries. In Arizona, the Supreme Court has sole authority for licensing individuals or entities which derive their livelihood from serving as guardians and/or conservators for incapable and vulnerable individuals (licensed private fiduciaries). A perusal of the documents in Mr. G's matter suggests that he was disciplined not on the purported grounds of "vexatious conduct," but for questioning fiduciary arrangements involving several elderly wards and certain corporate fiduciary entities. From a perusal of the documents in Mr. G.'s matter, it is evident that he was concerned about possible financial exploitation of these wards by their court-appointed guardians and/or conservators.
Moreover, the documents create the impression that SBA's "vexatious conduct" allegations were flimsy--and, as regards one particular allegation (to the effect that for his own lucrative motives, Mr. G. was trying absurdly to steal wards, as prospective paying clients, from their guardians and/or conservators), unsupported. (As if to make a show that the attorney concerned and not SBA is the villain, SBA subsequently went on to disbar Mr. G.: see http://azcourts.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket+1hxhHe-c_-E%3d&tabid+7259&mid+10580.) The fact is that the Supreme Court of Arizona, by licensing shady entities as fiduciaries, and some of the Arizona probate courts (especially the Maricopa County Superior Court, Probate Division), by approving the actions of these licensed fiduciaries, have long been complicit in the financial mistreatment of elderly and vulnerable individuals. For example, even before Mr. G.'s suspension, in 2010, the Arizona Republic newspaper reported on the court-supervised looting of a vulnerable senior's assets by one of the very corporate fiduciaries who Mr. G. was trying to oppose--the notorious Sun Valley Group. See, inter alia, http://www.estateofdenial.com/2010/10/27/az-judge-says-probate-commissioner-unbiased-in-marie-long-estate-depletion/. In a year's time, and with the Maricopa County Superior Court's active approval, as court-appointed fiduciary for the vulnerable senior, Sun Valley Group literally spent a million dollars of her assets. No one was ever held accountable and there was no investigation to find out where the money went and whether public officials benefited. Subsequently, the Arizona courts did adopt new probate rules by the action of a body appointed by now-retired Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch, the "Committee on Improving Judicial Oversight and Processing of Probate Matters," which submittted its final report in June, 2011; but the new rules (while imposing new hoops to jump through for family members who want to act as non-licensed fiduciaries for aged vulnerable relatives) effectively do nothing to stop judges from colluding in financial mismanagement by fiduciaries. A licensed private fiduciary can still ask reimbursement for charges, and a probate judge or commissioner (assistant judge) can still approve and treat the charges as "reasonable" at his or her discretion.
It is interesting that, although it was happy to set up committees to give a show of doing something, the Supreme Court of Arizona has never implemented obviously needed changes to punish the truly guilty. The court commissioner responsible for the case reported on by the Arizona Republic was never disciplined, and the state never shut down Sun Valley Group (it has gone out of business only because it lost its insurer). With neither the complicit courts nor the culpable corporation held to account--neither has ever taken responsibility for the fiasco reported on by the Arizona Republic--the ex-millionaire ward has become the burden of all of us; she became a public charge! See http://www.estateofdenial.com/2010/09/27/marie-long-update-finds-az-womans-estate-and-guardians-gone/ and http://www.locallawfirms.com/news/probate/marie-long-probate.php. Yet Mr. G., having taken on the like of that shady operator, remains disqualified from practicing law because of Judge O'Neil's order. This case is another example of the excesses in lawyer discipline mediated by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge. (See also  [b] [i] below for another instance of a lawyer fraudulently disciplined as an outcome of endeavoring to protect a vulnerable adult in a probate matter.)
O'Neil has been publicly accused of corruption by several attorney-victims of SBA and also by non-lawyers; see http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/2014/04/16/divorce-case-stirs-ethics-allegations-judge/7765749/. That piece notes that the allegations against O'Neil are of sufficient weight that he has had to retain legal counsel. (His counsel is Tucson attorney Stanley Feldman, former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice and a man with a notorious history of complicity with the SBA's development of its dirty tricks in lawyer discipline, and dishonesty in dealings with the public.)
For more information about Presiding Disciplinary Judge O'Neil's corrupt acts in connection with lawyer discipline see this website, page header SBA "Member Assistance Program,"  [a].
As another example of excessive and vindictive discipline in which Judge O'Neil took part, consider a matter in which two months after being suspended, the attorney-victim (Respondent) was charged with neglecting to take down her solo law practice's website. SBA had no evidence whatever that the attorney had continued practicing law during those two months. The failure to take down the website was undoubtedly an oversight occasioned by the attorney's scrambling to meet other obligations occasioned by the suspension, such as arranging for clients to have other representation. Nevertheless, Staff Bar Counsel demanded that, for engaging in deceptive advertising, the attorney consent to disbarment--and without questioning the proportionality of this, Judge O'Neil signed the disbarment Order.
Upon issuance of the suspension order, neither SBA nor the PDJ admonished the victim to discontinue anything that could be construed as advertising, such as any law practice website. Instead, SBA disciplinary counsel lay in wait, as it were, for the victim to make a mistake--then pounced, by initiating an investigation, followed almost immediately by recommending disbarment--as if saying, "Aha! Now we gotcha, you cow's twat!"
It is unquestionable that SBA's motive in this was, at least in part, to get money out of the Respondent: it charged $1200 in disbarment "costs." There seems to have been an aspect of financial impropriety in the way this took place. Together with the signed consent to disbarment, the attorney-victim sent, to the attention of the Staff Bar Counsel, at SBA's address, a cashiers check for this amount, amplified by an amount SBA had demanded for "costs" charged in the suspension proceeding. Since the signed consent was clearly received, SBA could not have failed to receive the check, as they were sent together. Yet SBA never provided the attorney-victim with a receipt nor did it ever acknowledge the payment in any way. A duly constituted court of law always has a clerk issue receipts for payments, while SBA did not do so in this instance. The attorney-victim has construed this as indicating that the money went straight into the pocket of Staff Bar Counsel, perhaps shared with the Presiding Disciplinary Judge; and perhaps too, SBA did not take time to issue a receipt because it was preoccupied with seeking out its next blood meal.
It goes almost without saying that in this case of disciplinary excess and unfairness, not only is the attorney-victim in a female and a solo practitioner, but also a member of a minority.
The attorney states that the grounds for the disbarment, in her opinion, were pretextual. She believes the actual reason she was disbarred was her reporting Howard "Hal" Murray Nevitt, Director of SBA's so-called "Member Assistance Program," to the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners, for sexual assault.
For vindictive prosecution, abuse of process, abuse of discretion, and appearance of financial impropriety, the Staff Bar Counsel in this matter should be investigated, sanctioned and disbarred.
For colluding in the Staff Bar Counsel's wrongdoing, especially in failing to observe proportionality and fairness in disciplinary decisionmaking, and for failing to exercise appropriate judicial oversight, Judge O'Neil should likewise be investigated, debenched and disbarred.
The name of Staff Bar Counsel referenced above is Craig D. Henley.
SBA Disciplinary File No. 12-2152
As Staff Bar Counsel are aware, their tactics differentially affect attorney-victims, depending on the lawyer's personal characteristics. Most female lawyers in middle age, if (as is typical) they are not employed by large influential law firms, are defenseless against SBA's tactics. This is naturally so since, generally, they earn less than average income from practicing law and have fewer supports. This is why such a high proportion of disciplinary matters reported in the "Matrices" (see this website, page header SBA "Member Assistance Program", ) are charges against middle-aged female solo practitioners.
AZAACPR invites readers to comment if acquainted with any SBA member who has committed suicide owing to excesses of SBA attorney discipine. (See this website, page header Contact AZAACPR and follow instructions there.)
By contrast, certain classes of attorneys, practically speaking, are absolutely privileged or relatively privileged not to be the subjects of SBA disciplinary charges.
(3) SBA Shelters Immune Attorneys
Classes of attorneys who are absolutely or relatively immune from disciplinary charges, by SBA practice, include:
[a] Disciplinary Defense Lawyers
[b] Staff Bar Counsel
[c] SBA's Pet Lawyers
AZAACPR invites readers to share their experiences concerning SBA's practice of treating particular lawyers, irrespective of the flagrancy of the conduct, as absolutely or relatively immune from discipline. Please use the Contact Form provided. (See this website, page header Contact AZAACPR and follow instructions there.) If referring to a particular SBA disciplinary or other file, or to a court case or disciplinary case, please include the correct file or docket number.
As a prelude to the following discussion, one observation is paramount. SBA lawyer discipline amounts to a tax on small-firm and solo practice. An analysis has been done of 72 formal disciplinary cases whose outcomes have been published by SBA and the Supreme Court of Arizona. The outcomes are published on the website of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge; he presides over disciplinary matters that are not resolved "informally," i.e., without a hearing, and these cases are published (although the numerous cases of "informal" discipline are not reported to the public). (See https://www.azcourts.gov/pdj/Search-Decisions.) In the entirety of the 72 formal disciplinary cases between October, 2014, and September, 2015, that are summarized on the PDJ website, not a single lawyer serving a law firm of twenty or more lawyers was disciplined. Rather, SBA discipline is directed overwhelmingly against lawyers serving firms of size fewer than five attorneys, including solo practitioners. The analysis of the PDJ reported cases shows this conclusively, and the implication is obvious. SBA does not represent the interest of all its members (lawyers practicing in Arizona). It responds only to the interests of large law firms.
Apart from all large-firm lawyers, there are several other classes of "immune" attorneys which will now be explored.
a. Disciplinary Defense Lawyers
Attorneys whose practice emphasizes defending other attorneys in SBA disciplinary matters are mostly (though not all) former SBA Staff Bar Counsel. Practically, such lawyers are immune from SBA discipline since their clients, having voluntarily agreed to the lawyer's services, cannot readily complain if the lawyer acts unethically. This holds even if the lawyer places his own interest in a continuing relationship with his/her former employer, the State Bar of Arizona, above the interests of the client, leading to a deficit of zealous representation of the client.
Disciplinary defense lawyers generally attract clients by making vague assurances that they have vital contacts with some powerful individual or individuals among SBA's disciplinary and/or ethics counsel. The lawyer suggests that using these contacts--contacts from which the victim-attorney is foreclosed--he or she can obtain information vital to the defense. As evidence of leverage with SBA, the disciplinary defense lawyer cites the fact that (s)he is the former colleague or even the personal friend of the Staff Bar Counsel investigating the victim-attorney.
One attorney, in communicating with his client, phrased it this way: "I have thus far had a good rapport with [Staff Bar Counsel], which I consider to be beneficial." In this instance, however, the said Staff Bar Counsel was ultimately so unimpressed with the defense lawyer's efforts that, after initially proposing to settle the matter for the client's consent to six months plus one day's suspension, he upped the ante to one full year's suspension.
In general, discipline defense lawyers lure clients by dropping hints about having special contacts or private influence with powerful people in the SBA lawyer disciplinary apparatus. Because all official documents that order or impose discipline bear the defense lawyer's name along with that of the client, it is not a practical possibility for the latter to subsequently complain to the Bar about the way the lawyer provided representation, although the attorney-victim may be far from satisfied. There does not seem to be less incivility to clients, immunity from making procedural errors, incompetence in negotiating settlement ("discipline by consent"), failure to communicate properly with the client, or poor strategizing among the discipline defense bar, compared with lawyers in general.
Attorney-victims (Respondents) to whom the Bar sends an initial notice of investigation letter will find it accompanied by a one-page announcement with the following heading:
AADC Arizona Association of Defense Counsel
The "Free Consultation" notice goes on to direct the Respondent to contact an "AADC program coordinator" whose name and contact information is provided.
The "coordinator" answers inquiries by providing the Respondent with the name and contact information for exactly one lawyer "experienced in disciplinary matters." That one lawyer may or may not be the best choice for the Respondent. At this stage, the Respondent may not feel free to discuss his/her predicament with local professional colleagues, and consequently may not know how to find any alternative to the single name provided by the "coordinator."
Remarkably, the AADC does not advise lawyers looking for defense counsel that there is an entire website on which to locate a selection of bar defense lawyers: the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, Arizona chapter website. The web address is: http://www.aprl.net/listings/state.html (select "Arizona").
It appears that the "Free Consulation" offer is merely the defense bar's perquisite, a benefit for which defense lawyers pay through their contributions to APRL. Each such lawyer purchases the right to exclusive referrals, enabling him/her to develop a clientele from among some subset of all the attorney-victims who are targeted by the SBA disciplinary machine.
The list of lawyers provided on the APRL website is not exhaustive as to all Arizona lawyers who do professional responsibility defense work, but it does list over a dozen lawyers who hold themselves out as so engaged.
As of mid-2012, the names of Arizona counsel listed on the APRL site are:
Karen Clark (same practice as Ralph Adams)
James J. Belanger
David D. Dodge
Mark I. Harrison
Myles V. Lynk
Denise M. Quinterri
J. Scott Rhodes
Patricia A. Sallen
Lynda C. Shely
Geoffrey M.T. Shurr
Donald Wilson, Jr.
Kurt M. Zitzer
AZAACPR invites comment from any Arizona attorney who has either used the services of any defense lawyer listed on the APRL website or any other disciplinary defense lawyer's services. (See this website, page header Contact AZAACPR and follow instructions there.)
Aside from getting listed on the APRL website, another way disciplinary defense lawyers troll for clients is by getting themselves on a State Bar of Arizona list of "peer support volunteers"; as of mid-2014 this is true, for instance, of disciplinary defense practitioner Karen Clark whose name appears in the list above (see http://www.azbar.org/professionaldevelopment/map/support/peersupportnetwork) (and see [B] below).
[A] J. Scott Rhodes
Rhodes, one of the attorneys listed on the APRL website, has been on the SBA Board of Directors, and is a Managing Attorney of Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, PLC, which is one of SBA's pet law firms. An attorney seeking representation in a disciplinary matter should be aware that such a firm (and the counsel in such a firm) have a primary loyalty to SBA. SBA does business with such firms. Jennings Strouss, in particular, was recently engaged to provide representation to an SBA official confronting sexual assault and related allegations. See this website, page header SBA "Member Assistance Program," .
[B] Karen Clark and Scott Adams
"Sam Shovel" states: "Clark and Adams are an unmarried couple practicing as partners under the rubric Adams & Clark, PC. Briefly, they represented me in a disciplinary matter. Clark did most of the work. She does not impress me as having the intellectual qualifications for her area of legal practice. She repeatedly erred in listing dates (years, months), names--she even misspelled my name in submissions she sent to SBA--and I could not understand why she ever sent me drafts, since she never paid attention to the corrections I sent her. Not long into the representation, her partner Adams made a determination that I had misstated facts to Clark in a manner that, he said, implicated ethical issues. Without my consent, the two of them jointly sent me a warning letter, several pages long, detailing what they thought I had done wrong in communicating with them, and threatening a possibility they would withdraw. They then proceeded to act surprised when I responded to their $500 bill for that 'service' by discontinuing the representation, informing them I could no longer afford them. I think they are each a sandwich short of a picnic."
[C] Mark I. Harrison
i. The Tom Horne Matter
Mark I. Harrison represented Carmen Chenal, the reported lover of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne in her matter wherein, after her suspension by SBA, and thanks at least in part by Mr. Horne's efforts, she was reinstated to the practice of law in 2011. Regarding the circumstances of Mr. Horne's intervening in the woman's matter,
see http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/Attorney-General-Tom-Hornes-fender-bender-leads-to-questions-about-his-relationship-with-employee. Also see the following news report to the effect that, as Superintendent of Public Instruction, Horne hired his lover and, when he became Arizona Attorney General in 2010, he initiated efforts to rehabilitate her SBA disciplinary status so that his new office could also hire her: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2011-07-14/news/attorney-general-horne-hired-carmen-chenal-to-a-highly-paid-top-post-cause-she-s-his-goomba/.
Chenal's 2005 order of suspension is a public document;
see http://www.azcourts.gov/portals/36/2005_scanned/JOandOrders/ChenalJO.pdf. Chenal did not apply for reinstatement for years after the order took effect. Her 2011 Arizona Supreme Court reinstatement order is likewise a public document;
Although upon reinstatement, Chenal had not been an active practitioner of law for over five years, Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch, in signing the order of reinstatement, did not require Chenal, as a condition of reinstatement, to retake the Bar exam. 17A Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona, Rs. 64(e)(3) and 64(c), taken together, require that when an Arizona attorney has remained suspended for as long as five years (whether because five years is the term of suspension specified in the original order, or because the suspended lawyer fails to apply for reinstatement), the attorney must retake the Arizona Bar examination in order to resume active membership and the practice of law. There are pertinent public records in which the Arizona Supreme Court has declared that this is an exceptionless requirement; this was said to be so, for instance, in the case of another female attorney (one who is not publicly known for sleeping with the Arizona Attorney General); see http://azcourts.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=Qc3aaE3_2xE%3D&tabid=6733&mid=9822. Notwithstanding, in the case of the Arizona Attorney General's paramour, the Supreme Court acted differently: the Chief Justice permitted Chenal's reinstatement in derogation of this requirement. This is consistent with the fact that, like SBA's Staff Bar Counsel (see below, [b][ii]), the Arizona Supreme Court makes of its own rules what it will, and in matters of lawyer discipline, it flouts its rules whenever it so pleases (as in this instance, when the Supreme Court pleased to please the Arizona Attorney General).
The irregularities in Chenal's disciplinary matter have come to light because, reportedly, her lover,Tom Horne (who, as Attorney General, is the state's number one law enforcement officer), was caught having left the scene of a hit-and-run in which he was the driver at fault and she was his passenger. He was detected by FBI agents who had him under surveillance in connection with suspected election law fraud. See http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_phoenix_metro/central_phoenix/results-of-fbi-investigation-of-arizona-attorney-general-tom-horne-expected-monday. There has been a public call to SBA to investigate Horne; see http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/2012/11/03/20121103-horne-editorial-weak.html. However, in view of the Arizona Supreme Court's intentional connivance in the unlawful reinstatement to the practice of law of his paramour, AZAACPR would consider it astonishing if SBA ever disciplined Attorney General Horne for any malfeasance he may ever commit. (See, inter alia, http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/20130605arizona-bar-dismisses-charge-vs-horne-campaign-finance-case.html which reports that SBA dropped its investigation into Horne's alleged election law violations and that, many weeks after Horne made a deal with prosecutors to settle his hit-and-run charge, SBA had likewise failed to take any disciplinary action stemming from it. See also http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/20130710arizona-bar-dismisses-charge-against-horne.html--noting that as of July, 2013, SBA has dropped all investigations into Horne's misconduct. This is another illustration of the inconsistency and hypocrisy of SBA's disciplinary standards since in other instances, SBA has not hesitated to discipline and even disbar attorneys found to have committed hit-and-run; see e.g. http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/state/two-arizona-attorneys-disbarred-for-criminal-misconduct and, on the subject of the same matter, http://sonoranalliance.com/2013/06/21/az-bar-disciplinary-judge-walks-over-crooked-short-sale-michigan-judge-gets-prison/.)
State Bar of Arizona Disciplinary Commission Nos. 03-0811, -1089, -1370, -1412, -2009, 04-0930, -1091
Arizona Supreme Court No. SB-05-0104-D (Judgment and Order, August 30, 2005)
Arizona Supreme Court No. SB-11-0034-R (Order of Reinstatement, April 19, 2011)
ii. Harrison's Charges for Services
"Monsignor Coughlin" states: "In a Bar discipline matter, I contacted Mr. Harrison of Osborn Maledon, P.A. in Phoenix, and he offered me an appointment to meet. He directed me to bring a $10,000 'retainer' check. Upon my seeking clarification, he stated that the $10,000 was a fee for that meeting alone. He stated that he intended to pocket the full amount, whether the meeting resulted in my engaging his services or not. I am not sure I would pay $10,000 for an interview with God. Needless to say, Harrison's was one appointment I did not keep. There is an ethical rule against overcharging, and in my opinion Mr. Harrison is a flagrant violator."
[D] Timothy Burke
"Detective Tracey" states: "This Burke is so inept that in my matter, he advised me to accept a particular offer of 'discipline by consent' and then, in the course of attending to my request that he ask Staff Bar Counsel to clarify some aspects of the offer, he ended up with a revised offer in which the term of the period of 'discipline by consent' was doubled."
"Daffie Dill" states: "After he handled my SBA disciplinary matter in 2012, I corresponded with the accounting department of Tim Burke's law firm, the Phoenix law conglomerate Fennemore Craig. I asked for an accounting of how my insurers had reimbursed Burke for his representation, which I had considered unsatisfactory. Burke personally wrote back, blowing off my question, assuring me I didn't owe any money out of pocket. This evasion and stonewalling unfortunately characterized the way I experienced his style throughout the representation. You can't ask a straight question of him and expect a straight answer. In my view, Tim Burke is a crooked lawyer. I think his entire firm is a den of crooks."
[E] Denise M. Quinterri
"Bishop Hutu" states: "During the representation there were eight occasions when she threatened to summarily withdraw. She went so far as to say that tomorrow, I will notice Staff Bar Counsel that I am withdrawing. The first time Quinterri made such a threat was when I politely asked her to refrain from using crude and objectionable language or saying things that were personal attacks on me, unhelpful to the representation. Also, at one point I told her I was going on a week's vacation and that I did not want updates during my absence; she continued to email me, about nothing urgent, during that period; and when I stated my objection to this (since it appeared she was taking pleasure in interfering in my vacation), she again threatened to withdraw. Most of her threats to withdraw were in emails sent late on Saturday nights, a time when many people enjoy some liquor, or on the eve of a holiday. She even emailed me with a threat to withdraw a few minutes before New Year's."
"Moms Mumbley" states: "I spent about $40,000 on Denise Quinterri's services. As soon as the formal proceeding ended and even before the decision issued, she sent me an email demanding that I never contact her again. She threatened to seek a restraining order if I contacted her with any questions."
"Ranger Rickie" states: "In my formal hearing, Ms. Quinterri, who represented me, failed to prepare me adequately. She didn't share her plan of questioning and as a result, I stumbled badly on the stand. She could have taken time to discuss her plan with me at the lunch break just before she questioned me, but she excused herself from the table with about 45 minutes to go before we were to reconvene. When about twenty minutes later, I returned to the foyer outside the hearing room, I saw that she was using the time to engage in small talk and friendly banter with the Staff Bar Counsel who was leading the opposing side."
"Marshal Kitty" states: "Nothing gives any attorney, let alone that hack Quinterri, the right to verbally attack clients as she does. She is beyond rude. She is hateful and abrasive. At the outset of a representation she sometimes warns, 'I don't take any crap off of clients.' It would be truthful of her to add, conversely, 'My clients have to take ceaseless crap and vitriol off of me.' Quinterri is a witch with a capital B."
[F] Patricia A. Sallen
Patricia A. Sallen is employed by SBA. Enough said.
b. Staff Bar Counsel
Staff Bar Counsel culture is geared for an Inquisitional, as opposed to a fair, style of dealings with Arizona attorneys. At the top of the list of reasons for this is the fact that however flagrantly abusive may be the conduct, Staff Bar Counsel is protected by a statute conferring immunity to civil suit: 17A A.R.S. Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona, R. 80(a)(6).
Likewise, Staff Bar Counsel is absolutely immune from discipline for ethics violations because no SBA member's complaint against Staff Bar Counsel is ever investigated.
The following are examples of Staff Bar Counsel misconduct submitted by readers of this website. Readers who wish to report additional examples may do so. (See this website, page header Contact AZAACPR and follow instructions there.) Readers interested in verifying information reported here are reminded that SBA disciplinary files as well as Supreme Court of Arizona disciplinary case records are public records and that copies may be requested by anyone.
i. Staff Bar Counsel Formulates a False Charge and Commits Deliberate Misrepresentation
In a disciplinary matter, Staff Bar Counsel submitted to the Probable Cause Commitee a "Lawyer Regulation Report of Investigation" which accused the Respondent of having filed many frivolous pleadings in a litigated matter.
Staff Bar Counsel followed the allegation by providing a lengthy list of pleadings filed in court by the opposing counsel.
Staff Bar Counsel's report did not state that pleadings listed as grounds for the allegation were not, in fact, filed by the Respondent.
Elsewhere, the report accused Respondent of having been responsible for "several dueling motions."
Opposing counsel was not charged with filing frivolous pleadings. Opposing counsel is a Caucasian male. Respondent is a minority female.
The Respondent's proffered five-page defense statement (citing the fact that Respondent had not filed pleadings whose captions were cited in Staff Bar Counsel's report) was overlooked by the Probable Cause Committee. The Committee issued a finding of probable cause. Presiding Disciplinary Judge (PDJ) William J. O'Neil then signed a Final Judgment and Order sentencing the Respondent to the sanctioned demanded ("recommended") by Staff Bar Counsel, comprising a year's suspension, to be followed upon reinstatement by two years' probation with "MAP" (forced mental illness treatment supervised by SBA).
Staff Bar Counsel's conduct calls into question 17A A.R.S. Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona, R. 42 (Ethical Rules), ERs 3.3 "Candor Toward the Tribunal," possibly 3.8 "Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor," and 8.4(c) ("conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation") and (d) ("[conduct] prejudicial to the administration of justice").
The Probable Cause Committee which reviewed this file failed in its function of safeguarding fairness and impartiality. The Committee should be disbanded. Those of its members who participated in this sham endorsement of a false charge and who are SBA members should be investigated for lapse of professional duty.
PDJ O'Neil, for his part, flouted his obligation to critically and thoroughly review the findings and recommendations of Staff Bar Counsel and, as appropriate, to question the factual basis and methods whereby the latter arrived at a disciplinary recommendation. Judge O'Neil failed in his obligation to resist playing the role of Staff Bar Counsel's fool and he failed to refrain from convening a kangaroo proceeding and issuing an ill-informed judgment. Judge O'Neil should, accordingly, resign or be debenched.
In addition to the Staff Bar Counsel referenced above, two other members of Staff Bar Counsel, Jason B. Easterday and Patricia J. Ramirez, were involved in the investigation under discussion. As accomplices to the wrongful conduct of the Staff Bar Counsel referenced above, Jason B. Easterday and Patricia J. Ramirez should be investigated.
The name of Staff Bar Counsel referenced above is Craig D. Henley. He should be investigated, terminated and disbarred.
State Bar of Arizona Disciplinary File No. 11-1698
ii. Staff Bar Counsel Disculpates Itself for Violating Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona
17A A.R.S. Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona, R. 55(b) (formerly R. 54(b)(2)) provides that Staff Bar Counsel cannot recommend discipline before the Respondent has had an opportunity to confront all adverse evidence.
In a disciplinary investigation, Respondent notifed Staff Bar Counsel in writing that the latter had not provided a copy of all the "exhibits" to the complaint filed by another attorney. Respondent asked to see the rest of the evidence. Staff Bar Counsel, without responding to this request, sent a recommendation of discipline and the Respondent's file to a Probable Cause Panelist (PCP 1). The latter then issued an Order sentencing the Respondent to Probation.
Respondent protested and filed an appeal of the sentence. The appeal asserted that procedural due process had been denied, since the Bar had violated the Supreme Court's own procedural rule. The Respondent asked that the charge be dismissed.
Staff Bar Counsel made a written admission that he had failed to provide the entire body of adverse evidence. He sent the missing material to the Respondent. A second Probable Cause Panelist (PCP 2) then refused to dismiss the matter. He instead endorsed and approved Staff Bar Counsel's reopening the investigation. PCP 2 also affirmed the original disciplinary sentence, although this did not withstand appeal.
This underscores a special feature of the Inquisitional style of practice to which Staff Bar Counsel feel entitled: SBA Staff Bar Counsel knows it need not observe the Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona, but may flout them with impunity, because the Bar can disculpate itself. In other words, Staff Bar Counsel can make of the rules whatever it wishes.
This attitude is explicit in one of the Rules, R. 53(c): "The ultimate disposition of any disciplinary proceedings shall not be affected by the failure of the state bar to provide the complainant with information required ... [under] this rule." By this rule, before imposing disciplinary sanctions SBA not only doesn't have to let an attorney-victim confront adverse evidence, but it need not even notify the Respondent that (s)he is charged with anything.
In ignoring procedural due process, Staff Bar Counsel comports itself in accord with the attitude famously expressed by Leona Helmsley. ("The rules are only for the little people.") Staff Bar Counsel arrogates to itself the privilege of violating Supreme Court rules at will because Staff Bar Counsel's culture matches that of a street gang, or the (former East Germany's) Stasi: The ends always justify the means.
Staff Bar Counsel's conduct calls into question 17A A.R.S. Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona, Rs. 54(b)(2), 41(h) and 54(c).
The name of Probable Cause Panelist no. 1 (PCP 1) is Alan Bayham. The name of Probable Cause Panelist no. 2 (PCP 2) is Richard Platt.
The name of Staff Bar Counsel referenced above is Stephen P. Little. [Editor's Note: Little should be disciplined for his misconduct in this matter, and for more: as of the beginning of 2013, Little has left his SBA position and now operates a private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona. But he continues to receive support from SBA; it has begun to sponsor him, ironically, to teach attorney seminars in "ethics." Since in his new office, he purports to serve in disciplinary actions representing client-attorneys against SBA, the fact of his being succored in his new endeavors by SBA is a clear violation of the attorney ethics rule against conflicts of interest. Little should be investigated as well for that.]
State Bar of Arizona Disciplinary File No. 08-1652
iii. Staff Bar Counsel Suborns Perjury in Order to Prevail in a Formal Proceeding
In a hearing before the Presiding Disciplinary Judge and panelists, convened on February 2-3, 2012, Staff Bar Counsel prevailed on the PDJ to allow testimony by a witness who had zero first-hand knowledge of the matter at issue, but who could be useful in prejudicing the PDJ and panel. The witness, Attorney X, had years earlier lodged a prior Bar complaint against the Respondent, also an attorney. Despite the fact that Attorney X had no relevant knowledge of the matter at issue in the 2012 hearing, and notwithstanding that the only relevant aspect of the relationship of Attorney X and Respondent--the fact that Respondent was once X's employee--had been stipulated, the PDJ agreed for the witness to appear. Moreover, the PDJ did not strike any of X's testimony. It follows that the tribunal implicitly determined that X's testimony was relevant and material.
Staff Bar Counsel obviously took much time and effort to groom and prepare X to testify. Staff Bar Counsel failed to disclose before the hearing that he intended to have X testify to Respondent's conduct with X's law practice clients when Respondent had worked for X, years before the matter at issue in the hearing.
On the stand, X gave sworn testimony about incidents that supposedly took place when X employed Respondent. Among other things, X testified that a good client of X's, a Mr. S., had been displeased with Respondent's legal services and that in particular, Respondent had failed to prevent Mr. S's mentally disabled wife from being released by a mental institution back into the community. The testimony was untruthful. X also prevaricated by stating that Mr. S. had thenceforth refused to continue being served by Respondent. X's testimony was untruthful in that (a) Mrs. S. had never been released from the mental institutiion during or as a result of Respondent's service at the X law office and (b) Mr. S. had never refused Respondent's legal services.
Subsequent events showed that Attorney X, prior to testifying, had not secured Mr. S.'s permission to discuss his matter (which in itself comprises an ethics violation [duty of confidentiality to former clients]). This was obviously so since, when testifying, X was clearly unaware that subsequent to leaving employment in X's law office, Respondent had remained in occasional friendly contact with Mr. S.
Immediately after the hearing, Respondent contacted Mr. S. Mr. S. voluntarily provided a sworn affidavit refuting the untruthful statements of Attorney X about Mr. S. and his legal matter. Respondent's counsel then sent the affidavit to Staff Bar Counsel accompanied by the following email message asking Staff Bar Counsel to correct the hearing record:
"February 14, 2012. (Respondent) requests that I send this to you, with the request that you stipulate to strike the X testimony as far as it concerned the client named (Mr. S.).
"The grounds are that the attachment casts reasonable doubt on the accuracy of the testimony which X provided as a witness for the State Bar on February 2, 2012.
"(Respondent) indicates that if you care to get confirmation by contacting Mr. S., he says he has no objection. His contact information is: .....
"It has been our position that that portion of X's testimony was irrelevant anyway, and that remains true. If the testimony was merely irrelevant, we would have pointed that out in [a] Findings of Fact [pleading]. However, because the testimony was permitted, and because it appears that it was untrue, it appears appropriate to agree to strike that portion of it.
... I propose a paragraph in each of our Findings of Fact that reads as follows:
"'Respondent and the State Bar stipulate that all reference during the testimony of X regarding a purported client complaint against (Respondent) by (Mr. S.) be disregarded by the Hearing Panel. Respondent and the State Bar stipulate to a request to strike that portion of the testimony from the record.'
"Feel free to propose alternative language or an alternative way to deal with this, if you have any issue with the above.
"Please keep in mind that this is not an effort to add new evidence, but rather to correct the record."
The Affidavit attached to the February 14, 2012 message was notarized on February 13, 2012. The body of the Affidavit reads:
1. I am or have been a client of the law firm X in Sierra Vista, Arizona
2. As an employee of the X law firm from (date) to (date), (Respondent) provided attorney services to me.
3. (Respondent) provided service to me in a legal matter involving my relative (at that time, my closest relative) who was then receiving supervised care in a licensed facility and who was also the subject of court proceedings.
4. (Respondent) provided legal services diligently and effectively in my matter, and I would have been satisfied to avail myself further of her legal services had she continued after (date) to be employed by the X firm.
5. It is NOT true that, during the time when (Respondent) provided attorney services to me, my relative was released back into the community, able to live independently, without professional supervision.
6. NOR is it true that (Respondent's) inadvertence or negligence caused my relative to be released back into the community from the professional care setting.
7. NOR is it true that during the time (Respondent) was employed by the X law firm, I became dissatisfied with or refused to continue receiving attorney services from (Respondent).
8. In fact, I credit (Respondent)'s legal skill and diligence for the fact that, while (Respondent) served me at the X firm, my relative was NOT released back into the commmuity from the necessary supervised care setting.
I swear under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.
Staff Bar Counsel responded as follows:
"Sent: Friday, February 17, 2012 11:36 AM Cc: Donna Stephens; Amy Rehm; David Sandweiss
"I anticipate that this will be my last e-mail regarding this topic. Needless to say, I disagree with your characterization of the State Bar's actions and intent. If you feel that you must pursue this matter further, please feel free to file the appropriate documents with the court.
"While I will not reiterate ... I feel it prudent to address a couple of your allegations.
"First, as all trial lawyers know, differences in testimony does not mean that one of the witnesses has committed perjury. Differences in testimony merely gives rise to credibility issues that are ultimately resolved by the trier of fact, not post-trial by the attorneys.
"Second, as you know, I have significant concerns about your client's credibility and her ongoing attempt to pursue her personal issues with X. With that in mind, I reject your contention that a post-hearing affidavit purportedly obtained by your client under unknown circumstances is absolute proof of perjury. Again, there were various remedies available at the time of trial to challenge X's credibility. If memory serves me correctly, you did address X's credibility in both your cross examination of X and during your client's testimony.
"Third, while you would have no reason to know it, you should be aware that I did contact X and vertified that she stands by her testimony. More importantly, I was able to obtain additional information supporting X's recollection and testimony onis issue. Therefore, I have no knowledge that the testimony is false -- in fact, I have significant reason to believe that the testimony is absolutely true.
"Hopefully, this explains the State Bar's position regarding this issue."
Here, Staff Bar Counsel refused to take responsibility for introducing perjured testimony. (Note that he, not Respondent's counsel, introduced the topic of "perjury" into the correspondence.) The defense had no opportunity to confront the testimony in discovery (despite his plan to introduce it, Staff Bar Counsel failed to disclose the content of the testimony before the hearing). In his message, he purported to exculpate himself by a preposterous argument that hearing officers have a "right" to take a decision about who they want to believe, when the prosecution proffers perjured testimony--and worse, fails to correct the record when made aware of contrary evidence.
The behavior of the witness who testified perjuriously, Attorney X, calls into question 17A A.R.S. Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona, R. 41(f) ("to maintain inviolate the confidences and preserve the secrets of a client") and R. 42, ERs 1.9 ("Duties to Former Clients"), 3.3(a)(3) ("Candor toward the Tribunal"), and 8.4(c) and 8.4(d), in addition to A.R.S. sec. 13-2702 "Perjury: Classification." Attorney X should be investigated not only by disciplinary authorities, but consideration should be given also to instigating a criminal action against X for committing perjury.
Staff Bar Counsel's conduct call into questions his obligations under ERs 3.3(a)(3) ("Candor Toward the Tribunal") prohibiting offering evidence a lawyer knows to be false, 3.3(d) ("a lawyer shall inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer which will engable the tribunal to make an informed decision, whether or not the facts are adverse"), 3.4 ("Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel"), possibly 3.8 ("Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor"), 8.4(c) ("conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation") and 8.4(d) ("[conduct] prejudicial to the administration of justice"). The Staff Bar Counsel has acted with egregious disregard for his obligations. He should be investigated, terminated and disbarred.
Staff Bar Counsel's February 17, 2012, email indicates that other members of Staff Bar Counsel, attorneys Rehm and Sandweiss, were accomplices to the questionable behavior of Staff Bar Counsel. Staff Bar Counsel Amy Rehm and Staff Bar Counsel David Sandweiss should be investigated as accomplices to the dishonest conduct of the Staff Bar Counsel referenced above.
Judge William J. O'Neil, Presiding Disciplinary Judge violated his obligation of impartiality and fairness to parties by failing to exclude irrelevant and prejudicial testimony. He failed in his obligation to avoid indulging in or giving the appearance of indulging in bias against a party. Judge O'Neil should resign or be debenched.
The name of the attorney referenced above as "Attorney X" is Nina Lou Caples, SBA Member No. 013513.
The name of Staff Bar Counsel referenced above is Craig D. Henley.
SBA Disciplinary File No. 10-0329
c. SBA's Pet Lawyers
Attorneys serving large influential law firms are relatively immune from being subjected to SBA discipline.
The firm may offer volunteer or other unpaid services to SBA on an ongoing basis. This fact renders all its associates and partners relatively immune.
If someone directs a concern about such a lawyer to SBA, the latter may mount a sham investigation, always culminating in dismissal, never in a formal charge. It doesn't matter what the attorney has done or failed to do, nor does it matter how obvious or compelling may be the indications that one or more ethics rules have been violated. A pet lawyer is SBA's favored girl or guy ... he or she will be taken care of and looked after.
SBA does not hesitate to help a favored girl or guy by intervening in ongoing litigation. If two attorneys are opponents in a matter being litigated in court, the attorney in a special relationship with the State Bar of Arizona knows he or she can use that relationship to influence the outcome. (S)he simply lodges a Bar complaint against the opponent. Obediently, SBA will oblige by investigating the other attorney. Then the influencing attorney files a Notice in the court smearing the character of the opponent; attaching SBA's notice of investigation letter as an Exhibit.
The influencing attorney--the Bar's favored girl or guy--doesn't have to do anything special to obtain a copy of the notice of investigation letter since, like everything else that goes into a Bar disciplinary file, that letter is a public record. The opponent of an attorney litigating a court case is as entitled to obtain a copy as is the public at large. The Bar opens the investigation and promptly provides its favored girl or gal with the letter because the Bar will automatically oblige anyone in the category of SBA Pet Lawyer. Moreover, the Pet Lawyer himself or herself being relatively immune to a Bar charge, the victim-attorney can gain nothing by protesting this extrajudicial maneuvering.
AZAACPR has even received reports that in some instances, papers material to a disciplinary investigation have been provided to one of SBA's Pet Lawyers for convenient use in litigation before the same papers were made available to the Respondent attorney.
AZAACPR invites comment about Arizona attorneys--SBA's Pet Lawyers--whose ethical lapses have been intentionally ignored, encouraged, and/or outright sanctioned or endorsed by SBA. (See this website, page header Contact AZAACPR and follow instructions there.)
i. Georgia A. Staton, SBA Member No. 004863
(I) Georgia Ann Staton is a partner of Jones, Skelton & Hochuli, PLC. This is an SBA pet law firm, a number of whose associates and partners apply emollient to SBA in the form of voluntary services, such as acting as "presenters" in Continuing Legal Education programs; many of these programs, ironically, concern attorney ethics. Staton is relatively immune from disciplinary charges and has laughed off such complaints as the following.
In the mid-2000's, Staton associated with the La Paz County (Arizona) Attorney, Martin Brannan. Brannan, assisted by Staton, brought suit on behalf of the County against a private company/contractor. While that suit was being prosecuted, the County, through Brannan, brought an unrelated suit against three individual members of the La Paz County Board of Supervisors. Staton was hired by the three individual Defendants and noticed her appearance for those Board members. In so doing, she failed to obtain a waiver of conflict from the County Attorney.
Brannan lodged a Bar complaint against Staton asserting violation of ER 1.7(a)(1), the ethical rule prohibiting an attorney from trying to represent clients (in this instance, the several Board members) adverse to another client (the County, who Staton contemporaneously co-represented in the County's suit against the private company).
On the facts in the disciplinary file, there seems to be little question that Brannan's allegation against Staton was correct and well grounded. Yet SBA refused to find probable cause--as it has likewise failed to do in the case of every complaint ever lodged against Staton. It dismissed the complaint.
State Bar of Arizona Disciplinary File No. 06-0734
(II) In a matter separate from above (I), Staton committed a violation of statute prohibiting, and prescribing both civil and criminal penalties for, the recording of a false lien on real property (A.R.S. sec. 33-420 ["False Lien Statute"]). Staton's opponent in a civil action lost the case at the trial court level and decided to appeal. Staton's opponent secured Staton's written stipulation to the opponent's filing a Supersedeas Bond in a certain amount, as a prerequisite to noticing appeal. The opponent's filing such a bond and Staton's stipulating to the amount were pursuant to Arizona Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure (ARCAP), R. 7(a)(1). On April 1, 2010, a day after agreeing to stipulate to the bond, and without notice to the opposing side, Staton recorded the lower court judgment as a lien on the opponent's home. After the Supersedeas Bond issued and was filed, Staton failed in her obligation to release the lien pursuant to ARCAP, R. 7(b) ("When a supersedeas bond ... is filed, ... [i]f a judgment lien has been obtained, the lien shall be released") and the False Lien Statute. The opponent was obliged to go to court and, over a period of months in 2010, to secure not one, but two orders to compel Staton to both produce a written release of the lien as well as to record the release in the appropriate county, as the procedural rule and the statute require. The opponent complained to SBA and received an acknowledging letter from Staff Bar Counsel Patricia J. Ramirez. Notwithstanding, SBA took no action adverse to Staton; in fact, neither Ramirez nor any other Staff Bar Counsel even bothered to investigate the allegation.
In addition, on May 27, 2009, at no charge to Staton or her law firm, SBA volunteered its own premises so that Staton's associate could use its conference room to depose the opponent counsel. During the case in the court below, the opponent counsel complained to SBA about Staton's subsequently falsifying and misrepresenting evidence obtained from the deposition when making various statements in court pleadings about the purported disciplinary record of opponent counsel. Here again, SBA neither investigated nor took action. Nor has it ever explained its interest in making its resources available to one of the counsel in litigation to which SBA was not even a party.
These are typical examples of SBA's pattern of corruption and favoritism, whereby it comports itself so as to intervene in ongoing litigation, encouraging unethical and corrupt practice by one of its pet lawyers.
State Bar of Arizona Disciplinary File No. 09-2078
ii. Nina L. Caples, SBA Member No. 013513
Nina Lou Caples is the attorney referred to as "Attorney X" above (see above,  [b] [iii]. Although she has repeatedly been the subject of disciplinary complaints, including at least one complaint which eventuated in a formal charge, SBA has never disciplined Caples. This is evidently because SBA finds her useful owing to her willingness to perjure herself in formal proceedings against other attorneys (see id.), without which, evidently, Staff Bar Counsel believes it might not prevail. In the past, one of the disciplinary complaints lodged against Caples arose when, after securing a court order to garnish an ex-client's wages over a debt for legal services, Caples went on garnishing the wages even when the demand had been fully satisfied. The ex-client, an impoverished mother of minor children, facing eviction, had to seek other legal representation to address this abuse. Yet SBA never imposed discipline on Caples.
The lawyer for the mother and complainant in the matter was John F. Kelliher, now a Cochise County, Arizona, Superior Court Judge.
State Bar of Arizona Disciplinary File No. 06-1393
iii. Leslie G. Spira, SBA Member No. 011986
Leslie Gayle Spira was hired in 2007 by the Santa Cruz County Attorney, Nogales, Arizona. While so employed, in 2007 she was reported for practicing law in Arizona on an inactive Bar license (prohibited under 17A A.R.S. Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona, R. 31(b)). (Spira is dually licensed in Illinois and Arizona.) SBA investigated but declined to discipline Spira after she produced letters of support from her County Attorney colleagues asking the Bar to forbear.
The County acted corruptly in hiring Spira without ascertaining her privilege to practice law, as did SBA in dismissing the matter.
In 2008, Spira was accused of stealing non-business documents of a former Santa Cruz County (Arizona) Assistant County Attorney, including a copy of the ex-employee's personal check--unredacted as to the ex-employee's bank name, bank account number and contact information. Spira sent the stolen materials to the SBA, supposedly to support a complaint against the ex-employee lawyer. SBA did not investigate but notified the ex-employee of Spira's complaint. The ex-employee sued the County (Santa Cruz County, Arizona, Superior Court case no. 08-630) in negligence and invasion of privacy. In May, 2011, about the time the litigation concluded, the Santa Cruz County Attorney terminated Spira on limited notice, disclosing the termination to the public without disclosing the reason. (See http://www.nogalesinternational.com/scv_sun/news/former-attorney-charged-with-impersonation/article_67c706d9-449f-55d0-937e-da282a12885f.html.)
Spira then purported to work for Davis Miles PLLC, a law firm with offices in the Tempe, Arizona and in Pima County. SBA's Staff Bar Counsel listed Spira as a proposed witness in a formal proceeding against the ex-employee lawyer for allegedly bringing the Santa Cruz County litigation "frivolously." However, by the time of the proceeding, Spira was no longer employed by Davis Miles (nor was she used as a witness). Her departure from that firm, in late 2011 or early 2012, followed by several months a July 9, 2011 incident in which Oro Valley, Arizona town police cited Spira for impersonating a public servant, providing false information to police and obstructing government operations. (See id.) Nevertheless, as of July 1, 2012, the SBA website still lists Spira as a member in good standing and as employed by Davis Miles, although AZAACPR's 2012 inquiries to Davis Miles offices have yielded denials that Spira works there. (Also, she no longer appears on the Davis Miles website under any of its attorney listings.)
In Spira's case in Oro Valley Municipal Court, on February 28, 2012, the town prosecutor dismissed all three counts. This may have occurred under pressure from SBA to drop the matter against its pet lawyer Spira. Evidence that this is so appears in SBA's magazine Arizona Attorney, the January, 2012 issue, pp. 55-56. It is reported there that in the Oro Valley incident, "Although the prosecutor dismissed criminal charges ... evidence supports a finding that [Spira] committed ... illegal conduct." See also http://azcourts.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=U0z0dJKUEvM%3D&tabid=6472&mid=9452. It would seem likely that SBA leaned on the prosecutor to dismiss the charges in exchange for a reassurance that the Bar would take over punishing Spira, given that SBA was at pains to characterize her conduct as illegal, even if a court did not so find. But even more remarkable is the outcome of SBA's disciplinary process; in Spira's instance, merely a sanction of "reprimand."
A reprimand is the sanction SBA imposes when it wants to be perceived as doing something about keeping attorneys in line, while not actually interfering in a pet lawyer's ability to practice law. SBA wanted to offer its pet Spira a slap on the wrist and could not depend on the court, without persuasion, to desist from a worse punishment. But for what sort of misconduct? SBA is supposed to protect the public from attorneys who, due to personality problems or unpredictability or instability, are unable to comport themselves with the law. Readers may notice that the Bar, in its magazine report, acknowledges that Spira acted illegally. For that, the entire sanction imposed is a meaningless reprimand!
Comparing the cases described elsewhere herein (see this website, page header SBA "Member Assistance Program,  a, b) shows the capriciousness and inconsistency of SBA discipline. In one case (id., a) a male lawyer tries to bilk a senior citizen of a huge sum of money and receives the same slap on the wrist as Spira--a reprimand; while in another case (id., b), a female lawyer self-reports to SBA after making an inconsequential misstatement in court and as a result, is hounded into years of disciplinary sanctions. As a comparison of cases demonstrates, when it comes to discipline, SBA has no guidelines, no consistency, and no rules; rather, it makes it up as it goes along.
Oro Valley Municipal Court case no. M1045-CR-201100305
State Bar of Arizona Disciplinary File No. 07-0266
(4) Reader Reactions
(i) "Inspector Closeau" states:
"AZAACPR's webpage "Inquisitional Discipline" (3)(b)(iii) discusses dishonest conduct by SBA member Nina L. Caples. I can provide another example of Caples' perjury.
"In a case in Benson (Arizona) Justice Court (which is a Cochise County Justice Court precinct), Caples, representing herself, signed a notarized statement, under oath, swearing that a former employee had stolen a document from Caples' office. Caples swore there had existed only one copy of the document. Caples swore it had been kept under lock and key in Caples' law office in Sierra Vista, until it went missing. Caples implied that several persons had keys but nonetheless, alleged that the document was stolen by just one of her employees, the one named in her sworn statement.
"Caples lied to the Justice Court. In fact, the document described by Caples is a public record. Caples herself filed the document as 'Exhibit A' to a 'Petition for Appointment of Temporary Guardian of and Conservator for an Adult' on August 22, 2002, in case in Pima County Superior Court, Tucson, Arizona. Caples attached the unsigned exhibit to her pleading in an effort to thwart attempts by Caples' sister 'Ms. MS' to assert priority for appointment as guardian and conservator of their mother 'E.' ('E' is now deceased.)
"As the exhibit document was typewritten and not handwritten and also, fails to display the purported author's last name, it is obviously of suspect authenticity, especially since the individual advancing it, Caples, had a pecuniary interest in the outcome of this matter, wherein she represented herself. As conservator, Caples would have controlled the finances of her mother 'E.'
"The fact is that Caples did not have legal priority to petition (she admitted that 'Ms. MS' held the subject's most recent durable power of attorney, placing 'Ms. MS' number one in priority under Arizona probate statutes). And further, even if 'Exhibit A' were authentic, it comprised no evidence whatever that Caples was a suitable petitioner.
"Moreover, even if the pleading and exhibit (quoted below) were not advanced to deceive the court, the filing was an obvious smear tactic. The filing calls into question 17A A.R.S. Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona, ER 4.4(a) 'Respect for the Rights of Others' ('A lawyer shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass ... or burden any other person') and R. 41(g) ('... to advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party unless required by the justice of the cause.')
"Lastly, obviously, if there were an ethical rule that prohibited being the sister from hell, Caples would deserve to be investigated for violating that rule too."
PETITION FOR APPOINTMENT OF TEMPORARY GUARDIAN
OF AND CONSERVATOR FOR AN ADULT
Petitioner, NINA L. CAPLES, alleges that:
1. Petitioner is interested in this matter because she is the daughter of "E."
2. The above-captioned person is an incapacitated person, but currently has no Guardian or Conservator.
3. Petititoner has filed with this Court a Petition for Appointment of Guardian of and Conservator for an incapacitated Adult, seeking appointment as Guardian of and Conservator for the above-captioned person.
4. Pursuant to A.R.S. sec. 14-5310, an emergency exists requiring the appointment ... "E" is incapacitated as a result of a stroke and senile dementia. Petitioner's sister, "Ms. MS," had been acting as "E"'s agent pursuant to powers of attorney executed by "E." However, copies of those powers of attorney are not available to Petitioner. Petitioner's sister, "Ms. MS," has recently been committed, according to her husband, "Derry S.," due to an attempted suicide. See letter dated August 9, 2002, which is attached hereto as Exhibit "A." "E" has debts which will not be paid without the appointment of a Temporary Guardian and Conservator.
August 9, 2002
Ms. Nina L. Caples
25 El Camino Real, Suite One
Sierra Vista, Arizona 85635
Be informed that "Ms. MS," as a result of the emotional pressures imposed upon her by your approximate two year total lack of concern for your mother's well being and recent certified letter, attempted suicide and has been committed on petition.
Your legalistic letter notwithstanding, I rather doubt your demands will be met within your required time limits as I have no working knowledge of these matters and cannot accommodate you in this regard. Be assured they will be met as circumstance permits.
Henceforth this date consider yourself responsible for any and all needs requisite to your mother's care as "Ms. MS" cannot and I will not bear responsibility in that regard.
Perhaps you can move back to Tucson to dischage this responsibility instead of, as in the past, relegating all of its' most difficult aspects to your sister.
Your inquiries as to "Ms. MS"'s well being are not invited and will be met with no response.
Cochise County Justice Court Case no. J-203-CV-20120137
Pima County Superior Court Case no. GC2002-0777
(ii) "Hugo du Mas" states:
"AZAACPR's website, page 'Inquisitional Discipline,' identifies Nina L. Caples, SBA Member No. 013513, as one of SBA's toxic 'pet lawyers.' Readers may wish to take into consideration that Caples not only has an extensive record of prior disciplinary complaints but also has indicia of personal instabillity: Caples has been married six times. In Pima County Superior Court, she has been divorced four times, from William Maslin Davis, Dennis Michael Finley, Michael Anthony Whalen, and James Usher Glanville. In 1999, on the complaint of one of the ex-husbands, she was a defendant in a domestic violence case in Tucson City Court, M-1041-DV-99279545. A few years ago in Santa Cruz County Superior Court, she petitioned for and obtained a divorce from Victor G. Fimbres. In 2012, in Graham County Superior Court, she petitioned for her sixth divorce, from Armando Anthony Padilla, Sr. Most of this is public record on the Arizona Supreme Court 'public access' website."
(iii) "John Popham Ford" states:
"AZAACPR's website states that Arizona attorney Nina L. Caples is an SBA pet attorney, and that she has been married at least six times; her sixth husband is one Armando Anthony Padilla, Sr. It is interesting how Caples used her status as attorney when becoming Mrs. Padilla. Padilla Sr. was an employee of the USPS Hereford, Arizona Post Office when Caples defended him in 2006 in Bisbee (Cochise County), Arizona, Justice Court in a criminal (domestic violence) matter. Padilla was then married and, in that matter, his wife was a victim (J-0201-CR-20060523). Caples later represented Padilla Sr. in Cochise County, Arizona, Superior Court in his 2007 divorce from his wife (S-0200-DO-200700477).
"The next part of the history is: Posing as residents of Nogales, Caples and Padilla Sr. get married in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, Superior Court on June 11, 2009 (S-1200-ML-20090164). Around the time Caples marries Padilla Sr., his now ex-wife complains to the Cochise County Superior Court that, due to Padilla Sr.'s not complying with property settlement orders, she is destitute and has become homeless. And in 2012, as the website reports, Caples files on her own behalf for divorce from Padilla Sr. in Graham County Superior Court. These facts can be verified from court records and online official court sources.
"Together with the other information reported on the AZAACPR website about attorney Caples, one forms an impression of a Gillian Flynn-style female psychopath character, with a history of compulsively terminating relationships, leaving once-trusting other peoples' lives in chaos.
"O what a piece of work is this pimp organization, this State Bar of Arizona, that deceives the public, succors rapists and whores, and cows its opponents, though they be attorneys!"
(iv) "Fore Sight" states:
"Attorney Caples, who is discussed on your website as an SBA 'pet,' has a long history of prevaricating or misrepresenting facts before courts and has engaged in legal proceedings against her relatives, her husbands, and more than one of her former clients. For example, in a case C20001568, filed in Pima County Superior Court, Caples sued a man she had represented in a Tucson Municipal Court case M-1041-CR-99270634, a DUI matter. In her complaint filed in Superior Court, Caples did not disclose that the man had been a client. Rather, she stated that his relationship to her was that of employee to employer, and she alleged he had committed wrongdoing in the rendering of his services, which consisted of repairing and maintaining her office computers. The man, through counsel, filed a counterclaim attached to which was a 'Work for Hire' agreement signed by both him and Caples. It disclosed that Caples had engaged the man's services in lieu of monetary payment for her representation of him in the City Court matter. That is, she had allowed her client, the accused in a DUI matter, to service her computers on which, she admitted, she stored sensitive information about her other clients. Caples, probably realizing the judge would have some questions, filed no further papers after encountering this defense and counterclaim, and for want of prosecution, the case was dismissed on August 13, 2001. It bears emphasizing that this man is not the only client who, once having signed an agreement with Caples to secure her representation in some matter, has later had to hire other counsel to defend subsequent legal action that has been brought by Caples."
(v) "Teeny Timm" states:
"AZAACPR's website page 'Inquisitional Discipline' attributes unethical conduct to Staff Bar Counsel Craig D. Henley. During a recent formal proceeding, I noticed during breaks and recesses that Mr. Henley appeared to be trying to put the moves on the opposing (female) counsel who was representing the Respondent. I overheard Henley announce to her that he was married and I overheard him question her to find out her status (divorced). Loudly, or at least loud enough for others nearby to hear, he then told her in what rented lodging he was staying, how fine and comfortable his room was, and where the lodging was located. As soon as the hearing concluded, Henley also told her, loudly, where he planned to go immediately for a beer that he guaranteed her would be the best brew in town. The woman counsel did not make a show of responding to any of this. I don't know whether they got together or not."
(vi) "Harum Scarum" states:
"Applicants for admission to the Arizona Bar need to be aware that, like herpes, SBA is forever: Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona, R. 32 (11) allows resignation from SBA membership only upon approval of the SBA Board of Governors and the Supreme Court, and unconditionally prohibits resignation by members deemed not in current good standing. Even the military does not conscript members for life. There appears to be an issue here of an incapacity or failure of the Supreme Court of Arizona to regulate the practice of law without violating fundamental protections; in this instance, the US Constitution, First Amendment (Freedom of Assembly clause)."
(vii) "Scarface" states:
"Regarding SBA's refusal of a member's unimpeded right to resign and leave the Bar, I want to point out that compared with trying to resign one's membership, it is much easier to commit some inconsequential violation of a rule of the Arizona Supreme Court, self-report (confess) to the Bar, and propose that one will accept discipline by consent in the form of disbarment. In that case one can get out for 'costs' of $1200. The real reason SBA prefers disbarring a disgruntled member to allowing him or her to resign is SBA's economic self-interest. It could not justify collecting 'costs' by simply letting a member drop out."
(viii) "Dick Marson" states:
"It is now at a point where any attorney cannot adequately and fairly represent their client out of fear of retaliation from the State Bar and judges."
(ix) "Lola Wanzz" calls attention to the following material available at
From: "Teri A. Baldonado" <Teri.Baldonado@staff.azbar.org> To: BeeEm
Aug 14 2012
We were forwarded an email you submitted to RCwebsite (our
Resource Center website) you [sic] requested copies of any
correspondence between the State Bar and yourself in regards to ...
charges you submitted against Attorneys X, Y, and Z.
These charges were dismissed on the dates given below ....
Pursuant to Rule these are no longer public record. Pursuant
to rule charges are public for six Months from the
dismissal date then after the Six months they are no longer
of public record. ... Teri Baldonado, Records Clerk, State Bar of Arizona
From: BeeEm To: "Teri A. Baldonado" <Teri.Baldonado@staff.azbar.org>
Aug 15 2012
If I functioned as corruptly as the State Bar, I'd be trying to hide my
conduct from the public too.
(x) "Weimer Anna" states:
"AZAACPR's website page 'State Bar of Arizona: About' states that unless other judges are offended, the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct, which is an office of the Supreme Court of Arizona, does not discipline judges for misconduct. Even where the judge has engaged in illegal conduct this may be true. For instance, in 2011, an attorney who is also a Santa Cruz County, Arizona Superior Court judge, Hon. Anna Montoya-Paez, was cited by local law enforcement on a domestic violence charge involving her husband (he is not a judge). (See http://www.nogalesinternational.com/opinion/guest_opinion/why-is-judge-receiving-special-treatment/article_6c1ee46e-387f-11e1-8420-001871e3ce6c.html.) A citizen duly complained to the Commission. It took no action."
(xi) "Merrilee Wego" states:
"Add to the list of SBA's coddled sweeheart lawyers or 'pet attorneys' one Vernon Edward Peltz, Esq., who has repeatedly been in and out of municipal courts in and around Oro Valley, Arizona, on various traffic charges. A serious one was an Oracle Justice Court case J-1105-CR-20010027. This was a DUI where Peltz was found guilty, sentenced, and did jail time. More than one substance was concerned. A concerned individual brought this to the attention of SBA. It did not subject Peltz to discipline--including MAP--over that charge."
(xii) "Marie Guillotine LaFrance" states:
"I did not think there were any ethical attorneys in Phoenix, thank God for you. I think I almost read your entire webpage. WOW! I am a member of the public. I called the state bar with a complaint. When I could gather all of the evidence supporting my allegations, I sent a FedEx box to the head of the State Bar. He did not respond to me. I know now my claims were against one of the good old boys that are well protected at the SBA."
(xiii) "Poly Sistine" states:
"As another example of disproportionate and capricious discipline, Arizona Attorney magazine's July, 2012 issue, pp. 63-64, reports on an instance of an attorney in a matter PDJ-2012-9022 who was disciplined for what the report acknowledges as 'matters unrelated to the practice of law.' This arose out of a circumstance in which the attorney--who was represented by counsel--was a named defendant to a civil action by the attorney's former landlord. The matter looks suspiciously like an instance of opposing counsel having clout with SBA and using the action as a pretext to 'get' the defendant personally by capitalizing on the fact of the defendant having a law license ... and the SBA colluding because, as the report states, it was able to get 'costs' out of the victim--and, thus, enrich itself. It is hard to see how, in any way, SBA's going after this attorney served any purported disciplinary objective of protecting the public.
"Since SBA is hot to stick its nose in members' affairs having nothing to do with their service to professional clients and since it avows an interest in the public's protection, one wonders why it takes no action against Tucson, Arizona Federal District Court Judge David C. Bury. He is an SBA member and, along with two other SBA members, is a co-owner of a sizable commercial property at 2560 E. Tenth Street, Tucson, Arizona, on which, according to public records, the property taxes have gone entirely unpaid for over three years as of mid-2013."
(xiv) "Chic Fillet" states:
"The website correctly states that the disciplinary system is capricious. Arizona Attorney magazine, May, 2013, p. 68, reports that in a matter PDJ-2012-9001, reinstatement from suspension was refused; however, other online documents show that in that matter, reinstatement was in fact granted, upon the PDJ's adopting the subject's shrink's argument that the subject was rehabilitated; this in a matter where the subject was suspended on a charge that in court, he used profanity and physically threatened a prosecutor. The subject was suspended from practicing law not only in Arizona but also in the U.S. Court of Appeals. The PDJ, in ordering reinstatement, had no better basis for deciding that this subject has become rehabilitated than he has had for deciding, in numerous other cases, some of which your website discusses, that the subject is not rehabilitated. It's all voodoo."
(xv) "Seen Alot" states:
"I have been acquainted with many judges. The State Bar of Arizona's Presiding Disciplinary Judge, William J. O'Neil, is well known to many observers. Many can confirm that the man is almost, if not quite, functionally illiterate; he has difficulty with spelling and punctuation; and his mind operates in terms of slogans, catchphrases and Bible verses. Of all judges of my acquaintance, O'Neil is the least intellectually qualified to weigh and evaluate issues and cases. To me, he is the most disappointing judge I've ever seen in action."
(xvi) "Iseealot Too" states:
"In regard to a reader's comments about the poor qualifications of Presiding Disciplinary Judge William J. O'Neil, which appear on your website page 'Inquisitional Discipline,' your readers may wish to be aware that an attorney who O'Neil ordered suspended for four years is appealing her suspension before a different Arizona judge, and is demanding that O'Neil be recused and that O'Neil's suspension order be set aside, on grounds--supported by evidence and witnesses--that due to his religious beliefs, O'Neil made his harsh ruling against her out of onus against her sexual orientation (she is uncloseted). See
(xvii) "Shillee Shalee" states:
"The public may be interested to know that for years, the Arizona Supreme Court has compelled unwilling attorneys, who may lack experience, to arbitrate cases that rules deem eligible for alternative dispute resolution, and that the questionable requirement that attorneys be forced to serve has been sanctioned upon review by federal courts; see
(xviii) "Novo Ran" states:
"I am a Western State-licensed attorney in good standing. Once, while a student, I had a DUI. The Western State Bar vetted the same issue--I was fully cleared and got admitted. I have a job offer in Arizona and have just been informed that SBA can conditionally admit me (no word as to what kinds of conditions) in a year or so, but I first have to undergo a 'psych' evaluation and pay costs of $1200. Since I am a Bar member in good standing in Western State, I am reluctant to get sucked into this."
(xix) "Twerkin' Dirk" states:
"Apropos of your website's discussion of SBA's pet lawyers, I have a comment. The corruption and lack of proportionality in the State Bar of Arizona's discipline of public prosecutors has recently seen the light of day in the press; this means that such lawyers as Richard Wintory who served Pinal County, and Ted Duffy who served Maricopa County, are being exposed as having been slightly slapped for serious misconduct--see the web address
(xx) "Dew Disgust" states:
"The AZAACPR website mentions the antics of some unethical attorneys associated with the Phoenix law firm of Jones, Skelton, & Hochuli, P.L.C. As far as I am concerned the entire outfit Jones, Skelton, & Hochuli, P.L.C. is an unethical business whose lawyers engage in dirty practices. I am an Arizona independent insurance agent. A few years ago, in a court case to which one of my clients was a party and the other side was representd by JSH, the other side took a solid trouncing, as the court ruled JSH's case groundless and JSH's lawyers' arguments meritless. Immediately afterward, JSH appealed to Federal court. It was obvious that JSH's tactic was to force my client into a disadvantageous settlement by outlasting my client through JSH's clients' superior money power. While this was going on, it was called to my attention that SBA's magazine Arizona Attorney repeatedly printed notices that this or that JSH lawyer had won some lawyer integrity award or other. I investigated and could not find any evidence that any of these purported awards existed outside the pages of the magazine. It appears to me that JSH invents such fictitious awards; that SBA is happy in its fidelity to JSH (SBA being JSH's lap-dog, or vice-versa) to publish these notices; and that the entire business is a fraud on the public by an avaricious and venal legal entity--this collection of shoddy lawyers called Jones, Skelton, & Hochuli--and its friends at SBA."
(xxi) "Catt Aplectic" states:
"The website points out the lack of loyalty that disciplinary defense counsel have toward clients because they are mostly former Bar officials and remain beholden to the Bar, with no feeling of obligation to the attorney they represent when the attorney is at odds with the Bar. You can add to your list of lawyers who don't care about vigorous disciplinary defense a Tucson attorney named Michael Drake. He usually practices in other areas of law but has been known to do some discipline defense work, where he has shown that he is the state bar's man from his pate to his toenails and doesn't care about justice for the client."
(xxii) "Hoppon Harley" states:
"Your organization is doing the public a service by publishing reports about bad lawyers. Please add Southern Arizona-based attorney Walter L. Henderson who has offices in northern Tucson and his original office still open in Green Valley, south of Tucson. We wanted to get an estate plan done. Being residents of Green Valley, where there are not many other lawyers, we visited his office. The entire meeting with Henderson took about ten minutes and we never saw him again. Also, throughout that meeting, we felt unwelcome. He looked as sour and disdainful as if he had just been forced to eat a rancid plate of liver and onions. Then he foisted us on one of his legal assistants to discuss the actual preparation of the plan. It appeared to us that at his office, the estate plans are entirely prepared by legal assistants, possibly because Henderson doesn't know how to prepare one."
(xxiii) "Hoppon Harley II" states:
"Another bad attorney is Neal Eckel of another Southern Arizona law firm, Durazzo, Eckel & Hawkins of Tucson. He makes false statements in court filings. He also counsels clients to lie in sworn statements. In violation of his obligation to show fairness to the opposing party, in our experience he is so arrogant, nasty and contemptuous that he refused in one case to provide a civil defendant with a copy of the summons and complaint he filed in court. So far, the corrupt State Bar of Arizona has failed to respond to a complaint lodged against Eckel for this outrageous show of overbearing arrogance. Eckel made a show of being 'generous' to the complainant after the latter filed a second Bar complaint; he finally sent a copy of the summons and complaint to the defendant ... about six months after he filed the suit.
"Eckel in fact is such a cheat that in one matter, he filed a Motion to Set and Certificate of Readiness (for trial) and then a couple of weeks later, served the opposing side with Discovery requests.
"After one of the State Bar complaints against him was filed, Eckel left a series of harrassing phone messages on the complainant's office phone ... identifying himself in every call. Looks as if he has a mental problem."
(xxiv) "Darius Miyawd" states:
"We agree with your website's analysis that the State Bar of Arizona does not conduct its activities in the interest of the public and in fact, has no interest in protecting the public from corrupt or abusive lawyers. We are quoting verbatim below from a letter we got back from the Bar after we complained about the dishonesty and unfairness of one of the lawyers whose name has appeared in your website as a possible "Bar pet" lawyer, Neal Eckel. The bar counsel flatly refused to intervene to get our grievances redressed, including the lawyer's manifest unethical conduct in refusing explicitly to provide our side with copies of pleadings he filed in court - by refusing to intervene, bar counsel is taking his side that it is perfectly ok for him to be such a vicious crank that he will secretly submit filings to the clerk of court and we can only find out about it if we go to check the record (and then, if we want copies, we are supposed to pay a half-buck per page). In our opinion, it is not just rotten attorney Neal Eckel who should be investigated and suspended from the practice of law; the bar counsel, Ariel Worth, should be fired, investigated and have her law license suspended too.
'I received your correspondence on [date]. I understand you continue to have concerns about Mr. Eckel's conduct in a lawsuit .... [T]he issues you have described, such as the validity of service on the
defendant ... are legal issues that must be presented to the court. The State bar [sic] will take no
Ariel Worth, Senior Bar Counsel'"
(xxv) "Diss Mist" states:
"The AZAACPR website has exposed a few of Arizona's substandard judges. I would like to add the name of Presiding Magistrate Antonio F. Riojas of the Tucson City Court. The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct, in autumn, 2014, gave him a slap-on-the-wrist-reprimand over evidence of his showing bias in favor of the respondent, and adopting a wrong standard of proof to the disadvantage of the complainant, in a case of an order of protection, which the respondent went to court to challenge. In court, the complainant provided evidence that the multiply-previously-convicted criminal defendant, along with his wife, had tried to kill the complainant. Riojas refused to entertain any of the complainant's evidence. This shows why, due to the complicity of law enforcement, who collude with male chauvinist judges like Riojas, many abused and helpless females are lying in their graves all around the state. Incidentally, 2012 news reports show that Tucson City Court accepted a 3-year grant from the US Department of Justice to create a domestic violence court presided over by women judges. One wonders where Riojas may have diverted the funds."
(xxvi) "Nott Happy" states:
"I have reason to believe that Phoenix attorney J. Robert Eckley is an SBA pet. He has given continuing legal education lectures under SBA's sponsorship. He will never be properly punished despite the abuse he put us through. In a suit worth $11,000, for our defense he charged us $66,000. SBA never properly sanctioned him in response to my complaint. Previously, about 2009, he was reprimanded and put on probation for violating the ethical rule against conflicts of interest. In investigating our complaint, after almost one year of investigation which included, according to Staff Bar counsel Shauna Miller, 'reviewing the parties' submission and follow-up with Respondent's attorney,' SBA found Eckley guilty in violation of ERs 1.4, 1.5, 1.7, 1.15 and 1.16. Despite Eckley's previous history of discipline, and the extensiveness of the ethical violations he committed in our matter, Staff Bar counsel only recommended an Admonition and Probation when reporting to the Attorney Discipline Probable Cause Committee. We filed an objection, arguing that several of the ethical rules had been overlooked when the sanction was recommended. We asked for his disbarment. We were ignored."
(xxvii) "Silence Doobad" states:
"The AZAACPR website has raised questions about the ethics and integrity of the State Bar of Arizona's Presiding Disciplinary Judge William J. O'Neil. For years, I have been bothered by O'Neil's conduct is a disciplinary hearing (File No. PDJ-2011-9060) that I observed first-hand. After long indecision, I have decided to speak up.
"There is a rule of judicial conduct requiring a judge to be impartial. (Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 2, R. 2.2 "Impartiality and Fairness") There is also an attorney ethics rule prohibiting a lawyer who represents a client in a proceeding from also acting in that proceeding as a witness. (ER 3.7) O'Neil is both a judge and a Bar member.
"In the above-mentioned hearing, the Bar charged the respondent with perjury; specifically, for allegedly lying in response to a question in a deposition. The respondent, under oath, answered the deposition question saying, 'I don't think so.' The respondent's accuser told the Bar that the respondent had been lying because the correct answer should have been 'Yes.'
"The Bar prosecuted this allegation. The respondent's counsel produced a medical expert witness. The Bar did not produce any counter-witness or cite any authority to challenge the expert's testimony. The expert witness testified that he had examined the respondent's medical records both from a date not long before and from a date not long after the respondent participated in the deposition. The expert testified that in his opinion, at the time of the respondent's saying 'I don't think so,' the respondent was suffering from a chronic debilitating, then-untreated and as-yet undiagnosed, medical condition. He testified that the condition impaired alertness and ability to give accurate answers under lengthy questioning. The expert testified that had he then been the respondent's treating physician, he would have given medical instructions that the respondent not make any statements under oath at that time. As noted, the Bar did not introduce any evidence to refute or challenge the expert's testimony.
"However, in the disciplinary hearing, Judge O'Neil proceeded to argue with the expert. O'Neil asserted that he, the expert, could not opine with certainty that the respondent was impaired specifically on the date of the deposition. The expert responded that he could and did so opine; that this was his medical opinion; and that he stood by it. At this, O'Neil continued to argue with the expert and, in front of the tribunal, he spoke disparagingly of the expert's testimony.
"O'Neil violated his duty of impartiality. He behaved appallingly. In a civil trial, ordinarily, a judge allows the finder of fact to consider each witness' testimony and decide what weight to give it. By abusing his duty of impartiality--arguing with a witness--O'Neil, as head of the disciplinary tribunal, demonstrated clearly that this disciplinary proceeding (which concluded in a severe sanction for the respondent) was a kangaroo proceeding. Worse, O'Neil tried to substitute his own medical opinion for that of the expert. By claiming he, O'Neil, had a right to assert a medical opinion of his own, O'Neil (who has no medical training whatsoever) tried to act as both judge and witness in the same proceeding.
"I am sure there are other Arizona judges who are unethical, dishonest, and deficient in ethics. I have seen some bad characters at the front of courtrooms. But speaking personally, I have never come across any other Arizona judge who is as unethical, dishonest, and deficient in ethics as William J. O'Neil."
(xxviii) "Grizi Fyngr" states:
"AZAACPR's website mentions some crooked or incompetent lawyers. It should not overlook mentioning a couple of lawyers, two State Bar of Arizona toadies who have contributed to making SBA lawyer discipline, and everything else about how SBA operates, the corrupt money-sucking machine that it is. One of these lawyers is crooked Phoenix real estate speculator and attorney Alan Bayham, who has held just about every SBA office there is, from SBA President on down, including involving himself in reviewing and passing judgment on other lawyers' disciplinary matters. He is a cheat and a hypocrite. The other is Tucson attorney Michael Drake, who has also been involved in lawyer discipline, and who is a lackey and unscrupulous servant of the Bar. These are a discredit to the legal profession, a pair of self-hating lawyers."
(xxix) "Luke Awt" states:
"In autumn, 2015, I have noticed two related online critiques of the State Bar of Arizona. First, the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, a think tank, in a comment decrying the Arizona Bar's overreaching and abuse, points out that the State Bar of Arizona extracts exorbitant impositions from members, including the third highest state bar dues of any state bar organization in the USA--and excessive though they were to begin with, the dues are being raised to new heights at the time of this writing. The cite is: goldwaterinstitute.org/en/work/topics/constitutional-rights/free-speech/goldwater-institute-sues-state-bars-are-unconstitu/.
"Second, although there is no incentive for and, accordingly, never will be, genuine reform of the Arizona Bar and the Arizona Judiciary from within, in 2014 the Arizona Supreme Court put on a charade of looking into reforming the governance structure of the Bar. It got some good ol' boys and girls (people the Court trusts, i.e. toadies), mostly lawyers, to form a Task Force for that purported purpose. On September 1, 2015, this "Task Force on the Review of the Role and Governance Structure of the State Bar of Arizona" released a "final report" which recommends a few insignificant cosmetic adjustments relating to the Bar's Board of Governors. The report is not worth the time it takes to peruse, except that at the end, the report includes an appendix by a dissenting non-Task Force member. This appendix ("Appendix J") is in the form of a letter from a Paul Avelar of the Arizona (Tempe) branch of a think tank, the Institute for Justice. It states that the State Bar of Arizona, with or without the changes suggested by the Task Force, does nothing to protect the public; charges members excessive impositions while misspending the funds; violates fair procedure in disciplinary activities; abuses lawyers' constitutional liberties, and fails to represent the interests of lawyers as members of the legal profession. The report is worth downloading only for this Appendix J. The cite is: http://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/74/GOV/REPORT/WebFINALMandGReport%2008312015.pdf."
(xxx) "Tongan Cheek" states:
"I am impressed with the misconduct of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne after he used his clout to get his illicit mistress, Ms. Chenal, reinstated to the Bar in violation of the Arizona Supreme Court's own rules. (Editor's note: see this webpage, (3)[a][C][i].) The AZAACPR website also reports extensively on allegations against one of SBA's employees, the Director of the so-called 'Member Assistance Program,' Hal Nevitt, for sexual assaults perpetrated on SBA members. It would seem that being an Arizona woman lawyer entails a risk of having to give away poon-tang to the right man. Moreover, if unlike Ms. Chenal, one doesn't locate that man on one's own, SBA may assign a man of its choice."
(xxxi) "Will Beboyz" states:
"In general, and not only in the case of Tom Horne in particular, it is rare for SBA to discipline public attorneys who are also prominent public officials. For example, in Arizona's Santa Cruz County, the County Attorney, George Silva, has admitted hiring a woman out of an interest in pursuing an extramarital affair with her and committing adultery while pursuing the affair after hiring her, then losing interest in her and having a subordinate fire her. (Editor's note: see the online Nogales International newspaper, article by Paulina Pineda, "In denying harassment, Silva admits questionable conduct," Oct. 20, 2015, available at: www.nogalesinternational.com/news/In-denying-harassment-silva-admits-questionable-conduct/article_19589082-76b9-11e5-8e42-2b0a225c2e02.html.) The matter is the subject of a lawsuit for harassment and retaliation now being pursued in Arizona Federal District Court. Although Silva's corrupt misuse of his office is public knowledge, SBA cannot be bothered to investigate this fine public servant."
(xxxii) "Scandal Eyes'd" states:
"The State Bar of Arizona's directing women applicants into the hands of a known sexual predator as a condition of membership puts it in the same class as the Government of Japan with its World War II-era 'comfort women' policy."
(xxxiii) "Novo Ran" states:
"The State Bar of Arizona is an agency for pimps."