- LEODIS CLYDE MATTHEWS
- SUREKHA MELISSA WEINBERG
- JAY CURTIS COX
- THOMAS JAMES BAYARD
- RICHARD ALAN BRUBAKER
- KULVINDER SINGH
- LORI SMITH
- CHRISTOPHER JOHN VanSON
- MICHAEL HOWARD CROSBY
- THOMAS VICTOR DILLON
- JAMES BLINN SANBORN
- LARRY GENE NOE
- MARGARET ALICE SELTZER
- ELIOT SCOTT GORSON
- CARLA RUTH McBEATH
CLYDE MATTHEWS [#109064], 63, of Los Angeles was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two
years of probation with a 30-day actual suspension and he was ordered to take
the MPRE. The order took effect Nov. 8, 2012.
stipulated that he did not provide adequate written disclosure of a conflict of
interest or obtain a supplemental written waiver about the conflict.
He was hired
to provide advice to Westland Architecture and Development Corp., a company
that bought and developed distressed properties; the company had accused two
parties of violating a contractual obligation to sell an option on a Wilshire
Boulevard property. If Matthews were successful in acquiring the option for
Westland, he was to receive an interest in the option himself.
bankruptcy proceedings, changes in company management and Matthews’ dismissal
as Westland’s attorney, Matthews formed Retra Financial Inc., a group of
investors that wished to acquire the option on the property. Although he
informed Westland of his intentions, he did not provide a written conflict of
interest disclosure. After the company sold the option to Retra, Westland
accused Matthews of malpractice and breach of fiduciary duties to his former
client. A jury awarded damages of more than $2 million to Westland.
trial court found there was no substantial evidence to support the jury’s
verdict that Matthews breached his fiduciary duties, an appellate court
ultimately directed the trial court to reinstate the verdict in favor of Westland
and against Matthews.
mitigation, Matthews had no prior discipline record and he cooperated with the
MELISSA WEINBERG [#244039], 34, of Agoura Hills was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on
four years of probation with an actual three-year suspension and until she
proves her rehabilitation and she was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with
rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. She receives credit for the period
of interim suspension that began April 25, 2010. The order took effect Nov. 8,
drove the wrong way onto the Santa Monica freeway, hitting a car that carried
four passengers in addition to the driver, who was killed. The passengers all
were seriously injured. Weinberg’s blood alcohol level was .23 percent. Four
years earlier, she was convicted of misdemeanor DUI. That complaint was
dismissed after she completed drug and alcohol education and counseling.
conclusion of a 2009 jury trial, Weinberg was convicted of gross vehicular
manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence and causing body
injury with a prior DUI, and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08
percent or more with a prior. The court declared a mistrial on a murder count
when the jury was deadlocked. The murder count was dismissed and Weinberg was
sentenced to 16 years in prison; she has been incarcerated since Feb. 20, 2009.
A writ of habeas corpus challenging the sentence is pending.
mitigation, Weinberg cooperated with the bar’s investigation, demonstrated
extreme remorse, including paying the victims her $300,000 insurance policy
limit although she acknowledged it did not provide full compensation. She also
presented extensive evidence of her good character. Weinberg says she has not
had any alcohol since the night in question.
probation of JAY
CURTIS COX [#147858], 50, of Santa Ana was revoked, the previous stay of suspension was lifted and he was suspended
for one year, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to comply with
rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Nov. 14,
after Cox stipulated that he failed to comply with conditions attached to a
2010 public reproval, he was placed on two years of probation and given a
one-year stayed suspension. He filed one quarterly report one day late and did
not file another. In addition, he did not comply with a requirement that he
provide blood/urine samples to show he had abstained from alcohol and/or drugs,
nor did he file proof of attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
reproval was imposed after Cox was convicted of driving under the influence. He
also was disciplined in 2001 for four convictions for possession of
methamphetamine (on two separate occasions), reckless driving related to
alcohol, and driving with a suspended license.
JAMES BAYARD [#226247], 43, of Diamond Bar was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on four years of probation with
a 60-day actual suspension. The order took effect Nov. 16, 2012.
stipulated to 12 counts of misconduct in five matters. The misconduct occurred
at the same time as other misdeeds for which he was disciplined in January
2012. In the earlier case, he stipulated to 13 counts of misconduct in seven
In two of the
new matters, he represented clients who were facing foreclosure and stipulated
that he did not account for client funds. One client had been scammed by
individuals who moved to Tennessee and declared bankruptcy, leading Bayard to
conclude that an action against the client’s lender was untenable. He
represented her in an eviction proceeding and filed her bankruptcy petition.
The bankruptcy case was closed by the court because the client failed to
complete a required financial management course.
In the second
foreclosure matter, the client paid an advance fee of $9,500 for Bayard to determine her
options, prepare a possible bankruptcy petition and handle any ongoing
litigation regarding her loan. A skeletal bankruptcy petition was filed and her
home was foreclosed. Together Bayard and the client decided to allow the
initial bankruptcy to be dismissed in order to come up with a strategy that
would be most beneficial to her. Ultimately a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition
was filed but it was dismissed because the client made only a couple of
required plan payments and she insisted on keeping two luxury cars that the
bankruptcy trustee felt were excessive. Bayard attempted unsuccessfully to
obtain a loan modification for the client. He did not account for her funds.
another client in an ongoing dispute over a construction loan, Bayard missed
several court appearances and the complaint he filed was dismissed. He did not
inform the client, who had paid fees totaling $8,400. He stipulated that he
failed to perform legal services competently or refund unearned fees.
a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition for another client but it was rejected when the
court listed nine deficiencies. Although he tried to correct the problems, he
could not find his client’s file and she either could not understand or was
unable to assist with the missing documentation. A revised petition was not
filed and the court dismissed the original. Bayard asked the client for an
additional $299 to refile the petition, and although she gave him the money,
the petition was never refiled and the court closed the case.
won a small claims award of $3,128, representing her fee plus $1,000 in
punitive damages. Bayard paid the amount in full but he did not respond to
three letters from a bar investigator. He stipulated that he failed to perform
legal services competently, refund unearned fees or cooperate with a bar
In the final
matter, Bayard was hired to handle another ongoing dispute with a lender and
although the client made an initial payment of $1,500 and $370 for a filing
fee, she did not make further payments she had agreed to. Bayard did not tell
the client her complaint would not be filed because she missed her monthly
installments. Six months later, her home was sold and Bayard told her he had
stopped working on her case because she had not paid her fee. Bayard eventually
refunded the $1,870 the client had paid. He did not provide a written response
to a bar investigator’s questions.
stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently, refund
unearned fees, account for client funds, communicate with a client or cooperate
with the bar’s investigation.
mitigation, Bayard had health issues, including a heart attack, related to
financial problems and a large caseload. Those problems were related to his
ALAN BRUBAKER [#134130], 53, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on
two years of probation with credit for nine months of inactive enrollment. The
order took effect Nov. 16, 2012.
successfully completed the State Bar’s Alternative Discipline Program after
demonstrating a connection between his substance abuse and his misconduct. He
had stipulated to 26 ethical violations in eight client matters, including
failures to maintain client funds in trust, perform legal services competently,
properly supervise his staff, communicate with clients, return client files or
cooperate with the bar’s investigation.
cases, he failed to appear at hearings or case management conferences and his
clients’ cases were dismissed. He did not account for $25,000 he held in trust
for one client and didn’t file a lawsuit on her behalf. He held $3,900 in
insurance proceeds for another client but didn’t account for the money. He did
not tell that client that he missed a hearing on his motion to set aside the
dismissal of a lawsuit and the case was never reinstated.
mitigation, Brubaker had no discipline record in 22 years of practice and he
completed the ADP.
SINGH [#182109], 46, of Roseville was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a
30-day actual suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE. The order took
effect Nov. 16, 2012, although the actual suspension was delayed until Dec. 17,
Singh filed was dismissed as the result of an anti-SLAPP motion and Singh
ultimately entered into a settlement agreement to pay the defendants $21,600.
As part of the settlement, he was to dismiss a motion to tax costs and dismiss
his complaint with prejudice. His request to dismiss the case was rejected but
Singh made no further effort to have a dismissal with prejudice entered. And
although he asked the opposing counsel to remove from the calendar his motion to
tax costs, he never asked the court to do so. Six months later, Singh wrote to
two judges saying he wanted his motion to tax costs to be heard.
was heard and denied. The court also found that Singh misled opposing counsel
into thinking he had withdrawn his motion
stipulated that he committed an act of moral turpitude by misleading both the
court and opposing counsel. He also admitted he made misstatements to the
mitigation, Singh had no discipline record in 14 years of practice, was
embroiled in a contentious divorce at the time, and suffered severe financial
stress as a result. He presented evidence of his good character.
SMITH [#196156], 66, of Riverside was
suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on two years of probation with an
actual 30-day suspension. The order took effect Nov. 16, 2012.
stipulated that she failed to perform legal services competently for a
plaintiff who hired her to represent him in a case already pending. When the
defendant filed for bankruptcy protection and Smith filed an adversary action,
she did not respond to discovery requests, nor did she filed a required status
report with the court. When she did not oppose a motion to dismiss the
adversary action, it was dismissed.
disciplined in 2010. She stipulated to 11 counts of misconduct in three client
matters and then successfully completed the State Bar’s Alternative Discipline
Program for lawyers with substance abuse or mental health issues. In
mitigation, she cooperated with the bar’s investigation.
JOHN VanSON [#133440], 50, of Oak View was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an
18-month actual suspension and he was ordered to make restitution, take the
MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took
effect Nov. 16, 2012.
VanSon and another lawyer formed Consolidated Litigation Group to process
clients for mass joinder litigation and loan modification. The group sent out
mailers that resulted in seven California cases for VanSon. He did not
negotiate loan modifications for any of them, performed no legal services on
their behalf and did not refund any unearned fees. His practice was taken over
by the Los Angeles Superior Court and the attorney general won a temporary
restraining order against his law office.
stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently, abandoned his
clients and violated state law by accepting advance fees for loan modification
was employed by clients in five states where he was not licensed to practice.
He stipulated that he collected illegal fees from those clients and held
himself out as entitled to practice in jurisdictions where he was not licensed.
mitigation, VanSon had no prior discipline record. He signed on with the
Consolidated Litigation Group based on misrepresentations made by another
attorney and was not involved in any false advertising. He also provided
information to investigators and demonstrated remorse.
ordered to make restitution totaling $49,994.
HOWARD CROSBY [#125778], 61, of San Diego was
suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation and he was
ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Nov. 16, 2012.
stipulated to four counts of misconduct in a wrongful termination suit he filed
for a client. The defendants offered a $5,000 settlement and said they would
file bankruptcy if Crosby’s client rejected the offer. The client made a
counter-demand of $95,000 and the defendant filed for bankruptcy, listing the
client as a creditor. She believed Crosby represented her in the bankruptcy.
Crosby did not attend several meetings and conferences and the wrongful
termination case was dismissed. He never informed the client or took any steps
to reopen her case. Crosby did not respond to the client’s many attempts to
reach him or to a bar investigator.
he failed to perform legal services competently, respond to client inquiries,
inform a client of significant developments or cooperate with a bar
mitigation, Crosby had no prior discipline in 24 years of practice, he
performed community service and he belatedly cooperated with the bar’s
probation of THOMAS
VICTOR DILLON [#236380], 45, of Fresno was revoked, the previous stay of suspension was lifted and he was suspended
for one year and until he makes restitution. If the suspension exceeds two
years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Nov. 22, 2012.
disciplined in 2010 but the State Bar Court found that he violated the terms of
his probation. Although he met with the bar’s probation office and frequently
communicated about restitution requirements, Dillon did not file three
quarterly probation reports on time and did not file three more at all. He made
one $500 installment payment but made no further restitution, nor did he
provide proof of attendance at ethics school.
underlying matter, Dillon stipulated that he failed to return client files,
perform legal services competently, communicate with a client or refund
unearned fees and he improperly withdrew from employment.
BLINN SANBORN [#80626], 63, of Chatsworth was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation and he
was ordered to make restitution and take the MPRE. The order took effect Nov.
stipulated to five counts of misconduct while representing a client in divorce
and guardianship matters. He did no work on either case, missed several
appointments with his client, who requested a refund of his $1,500 advance fee,
did not respond to voicemail messages and took no steps to protect his client’s
mitigation, Sanborn had no discipline record in 32 years of practice and he
cooperated with the bar’s investigation.
GENE NOE [#128640], 63, of Tustin was
suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation with an actual
60-day suspension, and he was ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect
Nov. 23, 2012.
stipulated to five counts of misconduct in two matters.
working as corporate counsel for WLC Mortgage Services/ConquistAmerica, Noe
hired the company to process loan modifications under his supervision. Under a
fee agreement with one client, Noe could use WLC for loan modification services
and the client agreed to indemnify the company against any judgments or claims.
The case actually conflicted with WLC/ConquistAmerica.
assurances that everything was fine, the client’s home was scheduled for
auction by the lender. The client sought a refund of his $2,000 fee from
ConquistAmerica, which agreed if the client would free the company “of all
responsibility.” More than two years later, Noe paid the client $1,250.
that he represented more than one client whose interests conflicted, he
improperly split fees with WLC and he did not promptly refund a client’s
advance unearned fee.
In a second
matter, a client hired Noe to handle a loan modification after hearing a radio
advertisement about his company, Loss Mitigation Firm (LMF). Although Noe faxed
a borrower’s authorization to the lender to authorize it to speak with LMF, he
did no further work and the property faced foreclosure. The client’s co-owner
obtained a loan modification on his own.
stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently or promptly
refund a $3,000 unearned fee.
mitigation, Noe had no prior discipline and he cooperated with the bar’s
ALICE SELTZER [#87707], 66, of San Francisco was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two
years of probation with a 60-day actual suspension and she was ordered to make
restitution and take the MPRE within one year. If the actual suspension exceeds
90 days, she must comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The
order took effect Nov. 23, 2012.
sought review of a hearing judge’s findings that she committed seven acts of
misconduct resulting from practicing law while suspended for non-payment of bar
dues. The review department upheld the hearing judge with one exception and
found additional aggravation due to client harm.
illustrates the problems that can arise when office management practices are
inadequate to ensure timely payment of State Bar membership fees,” wrote Judge
Judith Epstein. Although Seltzer practiced for 28 years without any discipline,
she was suspended for two weeks in 2009 for not paying her bar dues. The bar
sent her four notices warning of her delinquency, but Seltzer said she never
saw them. When she discovered her suspension, she immediately paid her fee and
reactivated her license.
Epstein said, during the two weeks in question, Seltzer performed legal
services for two clients, one of whom paid more than $10,000 that Seltzer
refused to refund. She also failed to forward litigation files and records the
client requested and did not respond to bar inquiries in a timely fashion.
challenged the hearing judge’s findings, asserting procedural, evidentiary and
constitutional errors. A three-judge review panel rejected her claims as
meritless. It found she did not cooperate with the bar’s investigation, charged
an illegal fee, failed to return a client’s file or keep her client reasonably
informed of a significant development (her suspension from practice), and
engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
took particular note of Seltzer’s 28 years of discipline-free practice and
called her misconduct “fairly isolated.” However, the panel criticized
Seltzer’s “lack of insight” and said it found her “failure to understand the
nature and consequences of her misconduct to be very troubling.”
SCOTT GORSON [#99717], 61, of Oakland was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a
one-year actual suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with
rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Nov. 30,
stipulated to 17 acts of misconduct in five loan modification matters. In each
case, he admitted he failed to perform legal services competently and violated
a state law that prohibits lawyers from accepting advance fees for loan
modification work before any services are performed.
matter, he allowed his non-attorney staff to provide legal advice to a couple,
including explaining the terms of the fee agreement to the clients and advising
them to file for bankruptcy after their loan modification was denied. Gorson
did not file a bankruptcy petition and the couple’s home was sold. They never
met Gorson, who never did any work on the case. He has not refunded any of the
unearned $3,874 fee the couple paid for the bankruptcy.
not respond to another client’s five phone calls or refund any of his $3,600
fee. The request for a loan modification was denied.
improperly solicited another client through a non-lawyer who promised a 100
percent success rate in obtaining a loan modification, and he did not cooperate
with a bar investigation of one matter.
Gorson had no discipline record since his 1981 admission to practice.
probation of CARLA
RUTH McBEATH [#106047], 61, of Fort Lee, N.J., was revoked, the previous stay of suspension was
lifted, she was placed on three years of probation and suspended for one year
and until she makes restitution. If the suspension exceeds two years, she must
prove her rehabilitation. She also was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the
California Rules of Court. The order took effect Nov. 30, 2012.
disciplined in 2010 after stipulating that in a single client matter, she
failed to perform legal services with competence, keep a client reasonably
informed of significant developments and refund an unearned fee. Although she
communicated regularly with her probation monitor and received extra time to
complete continuing education requirements and a deferral of a restitution
payment, she did not comply with other probation conditions. She filed two
quarterly probation reports late and missed another entirely, did not submit
proof that she completed MCLE courses by the extended deadline, and filed proof
of restitution payments late or not at all.
More than 200,000 attorneys are eligible to practice law in California. Many attorneys share the same names. All discipline reports are taken from State Bar Court documents and should be read carefully for names, ages, addresses and bar numbers. Read the Discipline Key
for an explanation of the different levels of disciplinary action. Use Attorney Search
to check an attorney's official bar membership record.