Disbarments
  1. ADAM MITCHELL LONDON
  2. RYAN MICHAEL HERRON
  3. SEAN GREG ERENSTOFT
  4. VON WALLACE ROBINSON
  5. RONALD CRAVER KLINE
  6. BRIAN LEO DAY
  7. JAMES JOSEPH BROWN III
  8. JAMES HADRIAN KLINKNER
  9. MICHAEL H. INMAN
  10. BRYANT KEITH CALLOWAY
  11. DAVID M. ROBINSON
  12. YU-EN TANG
  13. DAVID HENRY SOUTHWORTH
  14. WALTER JAMES ROBERTS IV
  15. THOMAS LEWIS SHELTON
  16. ERIC J. SIEGLER
  17. STEPHEN DOUGLAS SMITH

ADAM MITCHELL LONDON [#150639], 47, of El Monte, was disbarred Aug. 21, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

The State Bar Court review department found that London committed 14 counts of misconduct in five matters, ranging from his failure to respond to a client’s reasonable status inquiries to misappropriating $40,000.

In the most serious matter, London, a criminal defense attorney, represented a client who was convicted of 13 counts of tax-related offenses and sentenced to 24 months imprisonment. After the court of appeal affirmed the conviction, he hired London, paid him $12,500 to review his documents and provide a legal opinion. He then hired London and paid him $100,000 to review the entire case.

London deposited the funds in his client trust account which had a prior balance of $369.93. Two days later, he transferred $10,000 from his trust account into his business account, then moved the remaining $90,000 into his personal bank account, again leaving a balance of $369.93.

While the client was incarcerated, he and London signed an agreement in which the client said he did not wish to pursue further appeals and London said he was not retained to do so. The client later changed his mind, London filed a writ and converted $40,000 of advanced attorney fees into a flat fee with no requirement of providing an accounting. The writ was denied and the client later disputed the fee and demanded a refund of $90,000 and the return of his file. London did not respond.

The client sued London for possession of personal property and unjust enrichment. The matter settled for $20,000 and no admission of liability by London.

Although London argued that he did not have to keep $40,000 in his trust account and could withdraw the money whenever he wished, the court said the fee agreement was clear: He was required to keep the money in his trust account until it was earned. Instead, the review panel said, London withdrew $40,000 within seven days without the client’s consent and without doing any work. The misappropriation was an act of moral turpitude, and London also failed to account for client funds or return the client’s file, the panel found.

In another matter, it found that London did not respond to his client’s status inquiries or refund an unearned fee. He also tried to represent a criminal defendant in Arizona although he was not licensed in that jurisdiction. He associated with local counsel but the client complained to the Arizona bar because London did not disclose his status to her and paid another firm to represent her. He collected an illegal fee and engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

London also practiced law while ineligible due to his failure to comply with MCLE requirements, committing an act of moral turpitude.

Although the review department gave London some mitigation for 14 years of discipline-free practice, it also found that he failed “to acknowledge or understand that his misappropriation of $40,000 from his CTA compromised his fiduciary duty to protect (his client’s) funds. London has failed to realize the impact his misconduct had on his clients,” wrote Judge JoAnn Remke. “His failure to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions and the extent of his misconduct is particularly troubling.”

RYAN MICHAEL HERRON [#175216], 44, of Irvine was disbarred Aug. 21, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Herron failed to comply with rule 9.20 as required in a 2010 disciplinary order. He was placed on interim suspension following a conviction for felony possession of a controlled substance. He did not file with the bar court an affidavit stating that he notified his clients, opposing counsel and other interested parties of his suspension. Failure to comply with rule 9.20 is grounds for disbarment.

Herron also was publicly reproved in 2010 following a conviction for driving on a suspended license.

SEAN GREG ERENSTOFT [#161898], 44, of Encino was summarily disbarred Aug. 21, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Erenstoft pleaded no contest in 2010 to attempting to dissuade a witness. The crime is a felony and because it involves “the specific intent to impede justice” it also involves moral turpitude. It therefore meets the criteria for summary disbarment.

VON WALLACE ROBINSON [#176184], 47, of Corona was disbarred Aug. 26, 2011, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Robinson was originally charged in six cases in 2006. Over the next four years, he twice applied and was rejected for participation in the Alternative Discipline Program, submitted and withdrew his resignation from the bar, and was criminally convicted while another resignation application was pending. The Supreme Court refused to accept his resignation.

In the matter that resulted in his disbarment, he was charged with 30 counts of misconduct in 10 cases.

In a personal injury matter, he represented one client in a claim for damages from an automobile accident while at the same time representing the driver who caused the accident. He stipulated that he charged an unconscionable fee by paying himself more than 54 percent of a settlement, failed to pay his client’s doctors, commingled funds in his trust account, did not account for client funds and he misappropriated $4,000.

In another matter, he failed to advise his client of a $10,000 settlement opportunity, thus  preventing the client from considering the possibility of settling the case. Two clients’ actions were dismissed, Robinson continues to hold $600 that he collected as an illegal fee, and he failed to refund unearned fees of $1,793 to another client.

Robinson has been disciplined twice previously, with a public reproval in 1995 for failing to comply with a court order or cooperate with a bar investigation, and he was suspended in 2006 for practicing law while ineligible due to unpaid membership dues, failing to refund an unearned fee, charging an illegal fee and acquiring an interest adverse to the client. 

Although Judge Donald Miles noted that Robinson stipulated to some misconduct and showed some remorse, he recommended disbarment due to his ongoing disregard of his professional responsibilities, continuing failures to respond to inquiries by the bar and misconduct while he was on probation. “The evidence is clear, convincing, and compelling that (Robinson’s) disbarment is both necessary and appropriate in order to protect the public, the courts and the profession,” Miles wrote.

RONALD CRAVER KLINE [#58903], 71, of Irvine was disbarred Aug. 26, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Kline stipulated to disbarment as a result of his 2005 conviction on four counts of possession of child pornography. On his home computer, he had more than 100 images of nude, minor boys engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Some of the children were under 12.

BRIAN LEO DAY [#140451], 48, of Costa Mesa was disbarred Aug. 26, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Day did not comply with a 2010 disciplinary order requiring him to fulfill the requirements of rule 9.20. He did not submit to the court an affidavit stating that he notified his clients, opposing counsel and other interested parties of his suspension. Failure to comply with the rule is grounds for disbarment.

In the underlying matter, in which he also defaulted, Day committed nine acts of misconduct in two matters, including failures to perform legal services competently, communicate with clients, return client files and cooperate with the bar’s investigation.

JAMES JOSEPH BROWN III [#169686], 56, of Long Beach was disbarred Aug. 26, 2011, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In his fifth discipline since 1996, the State Bar Court found that Brown committed five acts of misconduct in two matters.

In the first matter, a civil lawsuit he filed was dismissed when he failed to appear for trial after obtaining two continuances because he said his car had been vandalized. Three times he asked to be relieved as counsel, claiming his client was belligerent and dangerous and was stalking him. Judge Donald Miles did not believe his claims and found that he failed to perform legal services competently, violated a court order and improperly withdrew from representation.

The second case involved a client who wanted to pursue a possible breach of contract against his former girlfriend as a result of a failed real estate venture. The client paid Brown $2,500 and told him that a separate class action suit already had been filed; Brown was instructed not to work on the class action. The client eventually decided he did not wish to go forward, and asked for an accounting of his fee and a refund.

He did not respond and when the client complained to the State Bar, Brown suggested in a letter that the client was not well mentally. He did not respond to the specific charges, however, and Miles found that Brown failed to account for client funds or return an unearned fee.

But Miles seemed most bothered by Brown’s “considerable prior disciplinary record . . . multiple acts of misconduct, client harm and lack of remorse.”

In recommending Brown’s disbarment, Miles wrote, “It is evident that the four prior instances of discipline have not served to rehabilitate (him) or to deter him from further misconduct.”

JAMES HADRIAN KLINKNER [#197236], 38, of Alamo was disbarred Sept. 9, 2011, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Klinkner committed four acts of misconduct in a single matter, including client abandonment, failure to refund an unearned fee or participate in a State Bar disciplinary investigation and he committed acts of moral turpitude by lying to his client and to the bar.

A client hired him for $200 to prepare and file a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to divide the pension of her former husband. Klinkner then did no work and did not return his client’s phone calls. When the client finally reached him, Klinkner lied and told her that he was waiting for some paperwork on her case. He then moved his office without notifying his client, who was unable to reach him for a year. She demanded a refund of her fee and complained to the bar.

When contacted by a bar investigator, Klinkner falsely stated that he had never had any communications with the client, that she in fact was not a client, and had never hired him to perform any services on her behalf. He did not respond to subsequent letters and after he moved his office again, told a bar investigator he wasn’t sure he’d received an investigator’s letters. But he again falsely stated that he’d never represented the client.

Klinkner was disciplined in 2008 for failing to perform legal services competently, communicate with clients or return a client file, and again in 2010 for failing to comply with probation conditions attached to the first discipline. He defaulted in the 2010 matter.

In recommending Klinkner’s disbarment, Judge Lucy Armendariz said she was troubled that he continued to commit misconduct while a previous discipline was pending, indicating that the original discipline “had very little impact on his behavior and strongly suggests that, for whatever reason, (Klinkner) is either unwilling or unable to conform his conduct to the ethical norms of the profession.”

MICHAEL H. INMAN [#160042], 49, of Los Angeles was disbarred Sept. 9, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Inman stipulated to eight counts of misconduct primarily related to misuse of his client trust account, as well as admissions of moral turpitude as the result of criminal convictions.

He commingled personal and client funds in his trust account, which he used to pay personal expenses, wrote checks against insufficient funds, committing acts of moral turpitude, and he did not appear for a debtor’s examination after his landlord won a small claims judgment against him.

In 2011, Inman pleaded no contest to misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance after he was caught trying to take amphetamine into the Santa Monica Courthouse. The packet of drugs was hidden in his sock.

About nine months after that incident, he was arrested again after a drug-sniffing dog smelled drugs in a jail lock-up area where Inman waited to interview clients. The dog found methamphetamine in Inman’s pocket and black tar heroin concealed in a golf ball sized object on the floor of the room. The sheriff obtained a search warrant for Inman’s home where detectives found two packages of heroin. Although he was charged with four felonies, Inman pleaded no contest to attempting to bring drugs into a jail, a felony. The other counts were dismissed as part of a plea bargain.

Inman was disciplined in 1999 for failing to perform legal services competently or keep his clients informed about significant developments in their cases. At the time, he had a serious amphetamine and marijuana problem but said he’d been sober since 1996.

In mitigation, Inman signed up for the Lawyer Assistance Program, and he stipulated to disbarment, avoiding a trial.

BRYANT KEITH CALLOWAY [#140431], 49, of Foothill Ranch was disbarred Sept. 9, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

The State Bar Court found that Calloway violated rule 9.20 by failing to submit an affidavit to the court stating that he notified his clients, opposing counsel and other pertinent parties of his suspension. He also failed to comply with probation conditions by submitting three quarterly probation reports late.

Although he was seriously ill, suffering from congestive heart failure, the court said Calloway had not said he was unable to provide the quarterly reports.

He has been disciplined four times previously, beginning with a public reproval in 1998 for failing to perform legal services competently or communicate with clients. He also was suspended in 2000, 2006 and 2009. In mitigation, he entered into an extensive stipulation and provided evidence of community involvement.

Noting that violating rule 9.20 alone is grounds for disbarment, Judge Donald Miles also pointed out Calloway’s lengthy disciplinary history and his “continued pattern of failing to comply with disciplinary orders.”

DAVID M. ROBINSON [#175913], 44, of Los Angeles was disbarred Sept. 9, 2011, and was ordered to make restitution and to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Robinson stipulated that he misappropriated more than $265,000 and faced charges in 10 cases, including nine counts of moral turpitude, multiple client trust account abuses, and at least three counts of the unauthorized practice of law.

In one matter alone, he misappropriated $226,000 from his client that was to be invested in real property. He received the funds and deposited them in an interest-bearing account that was not a trust account, but subsequently allowed the balance to fall to a negative amount. When the firm decided not to buy the property in question, Robinson convinced it to look at other property and claimed he was holding more than $230,000 for the firm. In fact, the balance in the account over two months was $71.34 and negative $19.99. When the company asked for the return of its funds, Robinson provided fabricated bank statements and a fabricated wire transfer receipt indicating he’d returned the funds. No money has been returned.

He failed to maintain settlement funds for other clients, instead misappropriating the money. He wrote a check for $11,490.52 to one client but it bounced. Another obtained a judgment against him for his failure to disburse settlement funds but the judgment has not been satisfied.

In addition, he failed to return client files, refund unearned fees or obey court orders, and he collected illegal fees and repeatedly practiced law while suspended without notifying his clients. He was placed on disciplinary suspension in 2006 and again in 2007 for failing to pass the professional responsibility exam. He was present at one hearing while suspended, but did not notify the court that he was there when the judge asked about his whereabouts. His website also did not disclose that he wasn’t entitled to practice.

According to the stipulation, the 10 matters filed against Robinson “evidence a pervasive pattern of misconduct and multiple acts of egregious wrongdoing which in their totality merits disbarment.” He was ordered to make restitution to eight clients.

YU-EN TANG [#237050], 34, of Arcadia was disbarred Sept. 14, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Tang pleaded no contest in 2008 to insurance fraud.

In mitigation, she cooperated with the bar’s investigation, presented evidence of her good character and went inactive in 2009 to raise her children.

DAVID HENRY SOUTHWORTH [#91601], of San Francisco was disbarred Sept. 14, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Admitted to the State Bar in 1980, Southworth was convicted of murder in Texas in 1982 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was incarcerated from 1982 to 1988, and was then on parole for 14 years.The bar did not become aware of his conviction until 2010.

WALTER JAMES ROBERTS IV [#225339], 48, of Rancho Cucamonga was disbarred Sept. 14, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Roberts failed to comply with rule 9.20, as required in a 2010 disciplinary order. He submitted a late affidavit of compliance, but it was incomplete and although he said he would file a supplemental declaration, he never did so.

Roberts has been disciplined three times previously for misconduct that includes failing to perform legal services competently, requiring a client to withdraw a bar complaint in exchange for agreeing to represent her, disobeying a court order and practicing law while suspended. He also committed acts of moral turpitude.

THOMAS LEWIS SHELTON [#209198], 62, of San Francisco was disbarred Sept. 14, 2011, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Shelton committed five acts of misconduct in a matter involving an estate. His client administered the estate, and together they sold a piece of property in Los Angeles. Shelton collected a $112,341 fee from the proceeds without first obtaining the approval of the court or the other beneficiaries of the estate. He therefore charged an illegal fee. The fee also was far in excess of the statutory limit.

In addition, at the time the property was sold, Shelton erroneously advised the client that Shelton could collect funds out of the escrow for his attorney fees and the client could collect $56,887.28 from the escrow for himself. As a result, Shelton and the client signed escrow instructions that paid the client $56,877.28 in estate funds. The court later ordered him to return the funds to the estate. Shelton’s advice was not only erroneous, but self-interested, because it resulted in him receiving $112,341.30.

The court found that he took the fee without authorization and ordered him to submit a petition deeming the fees were contingency. He never did so.

The bar court found that he failed to perform legal services competently, collected an illegal fee, violated a court order, committed acts of moral turpitude and failed to participate in the bar’s investigation.

In recommending Shelton’s disbarment, Judge Lucy Armendariz wrote, “The serious and unexplained nature of the misconduct, the lack of participation in these proceedings as well as the self-interest underlying (Shelton’s) actions suggest that he is capable of future wrongdoing and raise concerns about his ability or willingness to comply with his ethical responsibilities to the public and to the State Bar.”

ERIC J. SIEGLER [#179602], 43, of Temecula was disbarred Sept. 14, 2011, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Siegler misappropriated nearly $175,000 he was entrusted to hold for a client who was a beneficiary of her deceased mother’s estate. The client and her sister, who administered the estate, agreed the sister would pay the client $200,000 as her interest in a piece of real property. The sister gave a $200,000 check to Siegler, who deposited the money in his client trust account and gave $30,000 to his client. He was required to maintain $170,000 in the account, but allowed the balance to fall to just under $400.

Although he replenished some funds and eventually paid his client about $26,000, he still owes her more than $143,000.

He stipulated that he failed to maintain client funds in trust and misappropriated $169,616.46 of client money, committing an act of moral turpitude.

In mitigation, Siegler cooperated with the bar’s investigation and had no prior discipline record since his 1995 admission.

STEPHEN DOUGLAS SMITH [#60028], 63, of Burke, Va., was disbarred Sept. 24, 2011, and was ordered to make restitution and to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Smith pleaded guilty in 2010 to two counts of felony possession of child pornography. He was arrested in 2009 after his former internet service provider told police Smith had uploaded a child pornography video in 2007. With his consent, the officers examined his computer and found that numerous images of child pornography had been deleted. They were later retrieved and included images of children, from 8 to 12 years old, engaging in sexual acts.

Smith cooperated with the bar’s investigation and had no prior discipline record.

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