and a long disciplinary history lead to disbarment
California lawyer who was dismissed from the Lawyer Assistance Program for
twice tampering with urine tests was disbarred for misappropriating more than
$120,000 from her clients. JACQUELINE STATEN [#175733], 47, of Carson also
was ordered to make restitution in what was her fourth discipline, beginning
with a 2006 misdemeanor battery conviction. The disbarment took effect Oct. 20,
acknowledging that Staten “has had a traumatic life” with severe,
ongoing problems including bankruptcy and a bipolar diagnosis, State Bar Court
Judge Richard Honn recommended her disbarment because of the egregious nature
of her misconduct.
that led to Staten’s disbarment involved divorces.
In the first
case, she received a check for $304,620.25, representing the proceeds of the
sale of her client’s family residence. Without the knowledge of her
client, the estranged husband or his lawyer, Staten deposited the money in her
personal account. The next day, she moved all but $5,100 into her client trust
account, misappropriating $5,100. A few weeks later, the balance in her
personal account was -$829.72. Several months later, Staten misappropriated
another $74,798.85, for a total of $79,898.85. Although she ultimately
disbursed more than $300,000 to her client and her husband, she repeatedly
allowed the balance in her client trust account to fall below the required
When a new
attorney replaced Staten, the court ordered her to account for client funds and
to transfer the remaining community property to the new lawyer. Staten provided
an inaccurate accounting and wrote a check for $50,000 against insufficient
The bar court
found that Staten failed to deposit or maintain client funds in trust,
misappropriated almost $80,000, distributed funds without the required court
order and committed three acts of moral turpitude.
substituted in to a second dissolution matter and by court order received
$143,726 (from the sale of her client’s home) that was being held in
trust for the client and her husband. She was ordered to not disburse any of
the funds. A couple of months later, the client fired Staten and rehired the
original lawyer, but Staten did not return the money, as ordered by the court.
Instead, the balance in her trust account dropped, and she misappropriated
$40,951, although she eventually replenished more than $27,000.
Police Department obtained a court order freezing Staten’s trust account
and collected $129,803.19, the amount the account held at the time.
The bar court
found that Staten failed to hold client funds in trust or distribute those
funds and she committed acts of moral turpitude by misappropriating client
money and disobeying court orders.
In addition to
the 2006 conviction, Staten has been disciplined for failing to refund unearned
fees and perform competent legal services, and she misused her trust account,
making it possible for her roommate to use the account to pay personal expenses.
several witnesses, including one of the former divorce clients, testified about
Staten’s good character, she performs extensive charitable work, and she
cooperated with the bar’s investigation. She uses medication to control
her depression and has suffered many setbacks in her life.
For example, in
2003, at her law partner’s request, she signed a lease for the firm but
that night her partner moved out with all the employees. As a result, Staten
had a series of mental health difficulties caused by the stress associated with
sorting out the former firm’s obligations. She also declared bankruptcy,
lost her house, moved her home or office about 10 times during the next several
years and was forced to send her daughter to live with her mother because she
could not provide a stable living environment.
circumstances, Honn said the amount of money misappropriated was significant
and Staten still owes money to her clients. “The the court finds no compelling
reason,” Honn wrote, “to recommend a level of discipline short of