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Suspensions/Probation
  1. JENNY WONG
  2. KENNETH MATTHEW COOKE
  3. DOROTHY DAVIS GUILLORY
  4. KENNETH JOHN KLEINBERG
  5. THOMAS D. PHAM JR.
  6. JOHN M. RIBARICH
  7. JACK ISRAEL ADLER
  8. ROBERT WILLIAM BATES
  9. BRUCE WALTER EBERT
  10. ALEXIS GALINDO
  11. J. CLEG IVEY
  12. SUSAN L. JEFFRIES
  13. PABLO AURELIUS MANGA
  14. EDWARD WILLIAM HAASE
  15. CHRISTIAN RHADAMES JUAREZ
  16. COREY MARTIN KAGAN
  17. ANDREW FRANCIS LINEHAN
  18. SHANNON MARIE DODGE
  19. WILLARD PHILLIP MCCRONE
  20. TIMOTHY DAVID MYERS
  21. THOMAS MELVIN SWIHART
  22. LOUIS ALLEN LIBERTY
  23. GUILLERMO SUAREZ M.
  24. JOANNA TOOKER VOGEL

JENNY WONG [#248111], 33, of Manteca was suspended for one year and until she makes restitution and shows proof of her rehabilitation. The order took effect Dec. 22, 2013.

Wong’s probation was revoked and the suspension imposed after she violated certain conditions of her disciplinary probation imposed by the California Supreme Court. She failed to file quarterly reports due on April 10 and July 10, 2013 and failed to provide the Office of Probation with satisfactory proof that she had attended Ethics School and passed the test given at the end.

She was ordered to pay $8,500 plus interest in restitution.

Wong was previously suspended in 2012 after stipulating that she shared legal fees with a non-lawyer, failed to participate or cooperate in a disciplinary matter, charged and accepted an advanced fee in connection with loan modification services and failed to perform legal services with competence with regard to three clients.

KENNETH MATTHEW COOKE [#159341], 47, of San Diego, was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 120-day suspension and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and take the MPRE. The order took effect Dec. 20, 2013.

Cooke was found culpable of failing to perform legal services with competence, maintain client funds in his client trust account, render appropriate accounts to a client or promptly pay client funds. The charges stemmed from Cooke’s handling of a divorce matter in 2010 and 2011. Although Cooke’s client paid $100 in advanced costs for a process server to personally serve the client’s wife, Cooke instead mailed the summons and petition to his client’s wife and she did not return a form acknowledging she’d received the documents.

On July 28, 2011, the client sent a letter to Cooke asking for his file back and demanding a refund of advanced fees, but Cooke failed to respond in writing and did not provide the client with an accounting. A month later, the client, who had already hired another attorney, sent Cooke another letter asking for his money back but Cooke again did not respond.

It wasn’t until July 2012, and after the State Bar began its investigation, that Cooke prepared an accounting for the advanced fees. On the first day of trial, April 29, 2013, Cooke refunded the $100 given to him for the process server.

Cooke received limited mitigation for character witnesses who testified on his behalf and for community service and pro bono activities.

He has one prior record of discipline, a March 2013 suspension for misconduct in six client matters, including failure to communicate, refund unearned fees, provide accounting or perform services competently.

DOROTHY DAVIS GUILLORY [#114891], 65, of Oakland, was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on four years’ probation with an actual three-year suspension and until she makes restitution and provides proof of her rehabilitation. She was also ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and make restitution. The order took effect Dec. 20, 2013.

Guillory initially entered into a stipulation with the State Bar in 2012 but the California Supreme Court returned the matter to the bar for further consideration as to the level of discipline.

In concluding that Guillory’s discipline should be increased, State Bar Court Judge Lucy Armendariz quoted a 1935 appellate decision, noting that even in discipline cases where an attorney pleads no contest to the charged or stipulated misconduct, the State Bar Court “cannot surrender its duty to see that the [decision it files] is a just one, nor is the court to act as a mere puppet in the matter.”

Guillory was found culpable of failing to obey a court order or report sanctions to the State Bar in connection with an estate planning case she first became involved in in 2008. That year, Guillory represented and drafted estate planning documents for an elderly retired man. Two of the man’s daughters were named beneficiaries of his trust and the man’s sister was named successor trustee and conservator of his person and his estate in the event of his incapacitation.

After the man suffered a stroke, his sister and one of the daughters, with Guillory’s representation, unsuccessfully attempted to be appointed conservators. The Alameda County Public Guardian was instead assigned to fill that role. Although there was a direct conflict given that the subject of the conservatorship was her former client, Guillory continued to represent the sister and daughter throughout their proceedings. The man also strongly objected to them becoming his conservators.

After the man’s stroke, his sister also became successor trustee and paid Guillory $60,000 in advanced fees from the trust to “defend” the trust, which one of the daughters had questioned. By the end of January 2009, Guillory had withdrawn $43,568.34 of the $60,000. Thereafter, she withdrew the remaining $16,431.66 and used it for her own purposes. In July 2009, the man filed a petition to compel his sister to provide him with an accounting of the trust’s assets, compel Guillory to return the advanced fees and revoke the trust.

In December 2009, the court filed an order disqualifying Guillory because she did not get the man’s written consent before she accepted employment from his sister and daughter. The court also ordered that she pay back the $60,000 in fees. As of the date of Armendariz’s recommendation, Guillory had not paid the money back. In an order filed on May 14, 2010, the superior court ordered Guillory to pay, as sanctions for the contempt, $1,000 to the superior court, $900 to the public defender and $800 to the county counsel of Alameda County. As of her disciplinary trial, Guillory had only paid a portion of the sanctions.

Guillory was ordered to pay $60,000 in restitution, interest on court sanctions, $900 in sanctions to the Alameda County Public Defender and $40 to the Alameda County Public Guardian.

In mitigation, Guillory had no prior record of discipline in more than 23 years of practicing law.

KENNETH JOHN KLEINBERG [#110732], 63, of Irvine was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on four years’ probation with an actual nine-month suspension and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Dec. 20, 2013.

Kleinberg stipulated to misconduct in four matters. He violated rule 9.20 by filing a false declaration with the State Bar Court, which was also late.  In two matters, he held himself out as being entitled to practice law when he was not. He also stipulated that in nine instances he failed to comply with the conditions of his disciplinary probation.

In mitigation, Kleinberg was caring for his elderly and ill mom at the time of his misconduct. He also successfully completed the Lawyer Assistance Program and the Alternative Discipline Program.

Kleinberg has one prior record of discipline. In December 2008, he received an actual 120-day suspension for five counts of misconduct, all stemming from tax problems.

He did not file an employee’s W-2 form with the Social Security Administration for 10 years, and although he withheld federal and state income taxes and Social Security from the employee’s paycheck, he did not pay those taxes.

In addition, he stipulated that he failed to withhold and pay the employee’s Medicare taxes and state unemployment/disability insurance. He committed acts of moral turpitude by giving the employee false W-2 forms for 10 years.

THOMAS D. PHAM JR. [#183521], 59, of Huntington Beach was suspended for one year and until he makes restitution and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Dec. 20, 2013.

Pham’s probation was revoked and his previously stayed suspension was imposed after he failed to comply with the conditions of his probation by not filing his first three quarterly reports due Jan. 10, April 10 and July 10, 2013 and for failing to mail a letter to a former client offering fee arbitration or provide the Office of Probation with a copy of such a letter.

Pham’s prior record of discipline, effective Sept. 25, 2012, was for misconduct in two client matters: making misrepresentations to a client, aiding a person in the unauthorized practice of law, charging advanced fees for mortgage loan modifications and failing to perform services,,  obey a court order  or render an accounting.

JOHN M. RIBARICH [#183883], 49, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ suspension with an actual 90-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Dec. 20, 2013.

Ribarich stipulated to misconduct in 2011 involving two client matters in which he was hired to perform loan modification services. In one matter, Ribarich unlawfully charged a client $8,500 in advanced fees for negotiating a loan modification on her behalf. The client ultimately fired Ribarich, requesting her file and a refund. Ribarich refunded the money after the State Bar launched an investigation, but did not return the file.

In the other matter, he charged a client $7,749 in advanced fees for loan modification work, then negotiated a loan payment with the bank that his client could not afford to pay and was actually higher than the original payment. Ribarich agreed to refund the advanced fees but wanted the client to sign an agreement that said she would drop her complaint against him with State Bar. By June 2012, he had fully refunded $5,812 in advanced fees.

Ribarich has one prior record of discipline for similar misconduct. In 2011, he received a private reproval for including a provision in agreements with his clients whereby they would waive any legal action against him and withdraw their State Bar complaints. The clients hired him to do home loan modifications and to file lawsuits against their lenders.

JACK ISRAEL ADLER [#97380], 66, of Moreno Valley was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual six-month suspension and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Jan. 2, 2014.

Adler stipulated that he failed to comply with rule 9.20 as required by a 2012 disciplinary order. He was previously disciplined for making seven court appearances as a special appearance attorney while on administrative suspension. The misconduct, which occurred between Sept. 1, 2010 and July 4, 2011, resulted in a 90-day actual suspension.

In mitigation, Adler entered into a pre-trial stipulation in his most recent discipline case and was suffering from serious health issues at the time of his misconduct.

ROBERT WILLIAM BATES [#125291], 52, of Alta Dena was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual one-year suspension and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Jan. 2, 2014.

Bates stipulated to misconduct in one client matter: misappropriation and failing to deposit client funds in his client trust account or promptly pay client funds. The misconduct stemmed from a medical malpractice case he handled in 2009. The client in the matter mailed Bates a check for $1,000 to pay for an independent medical evaluation, but Bates’ paralegal put the money into Bates’ general account and did not tell Bates it had been received.

The doctor was never hired to do the exam, and a couple of months later Bates asked the client for another $1,000 check to pay for a medical examination. The exam was completed for just $250 but Bates did not return the remaining money, misappropriating $658 of the client’s funds.

In September 2011, after confirming that the client’s first check had been deposited in his general account, Bates paid back that money. By December 2011, he had refunded all of the money he owed the client.

In mitigation, Bates had no prior record of discipline, entered into a pre-trial stipulation and was experiencing extreme emotional difficulties due to his wife’s deportation.

BRUCE WALTER EBERT [#151576], 62, of Roseville was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on one year of probation with an actual four-month suspension and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Jan. 2, 2014.

In July 2013, State Bar Court Judge Lucy Armendariz found Ebert culpable of commingling personal and business funds in his client trust account throughout 2011. Despite the fact that a large sum of personal funds was deposited and withdrawn from Ebert’s client trust account, Armendariz noted the “compelling mitigation” in Ebert’s case.

In addition to being a lawyer, Ebert is a forensic psychologist, working primarily for the U.S. Department of Defense. In 1999, he was appointed by a judge to do an evaluation of a serial killer who had stabbed a former lawyer. During the course of the evaluation, the man attacked Ebert and tried to kill him, strangling and beating him. As a result, he had to undergo four major surgeries and was in chronic pain and became severely depressed in 2011. As a result of his health problems Ebert was disabled for a period of time and unable to properly supervise his law office.

Once he finally got his pain under control, Ebert had two more health crises. In 2012, he was in a car accident that put him in the hospital for 10 days. In 2013, he fractured his hand and was treated with an intravenous antibiotic that he was allergic to and went into shock and nearly died.

In addition to the extreme emotional and physical difficulties he was experiencing at the time of his misconduct, Ebert had no prior record of discipline, his actions did not cause specific harm to others, he cooperated with the State Bar and he presented seven characters witnesses who testified or provided declarations on his behalf. Other mitigating factors were Ebert’s history of serving the underrepresented and those in need, both in his role as a psychologist and as an attorney, and the fact he showed remorse for his wrongdoing.

ALEXIS GALINDO [#136643], 52, of Long Beach was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with a 30-day actual suspension and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Jan. 2, 2014.

Galindo stipulated to misconduct in one client matter: failing to perform legal services with competence, promptly notify a client of receipt of client funds, respond to reasonable status inquiries of a client or promptly pay funds to which his client was entitled.

In 2009, Galindo was hired to represent a couple in a personal injury action arising from a car accident. In May 2010, the couple went to Galindo’s office to discuss the outcome of an arbitration involving the accident but Galindo was not there and did not call them back or return a number of other phone messages they left for him. The arbitration did not resolve the couple’s personal injury claim.

In February 2011, the couple’s insurer mailed Galindo a check for the clients’ medical expenses, but Galindo did not tell them about it and did not use the money to pay for their medical costs. As a result, the bill was sent to collections. On Aug. 11, 2011, the statute of limitations expired to file a personal injury lawsuit on the couple’s behalf. Galindo did not inform the couple of the deadline. In June 2012, he settled their medical liens and gave the remaining money to the couple’s new attorney.

In mitigation, Galindo had no prior discipline, was dealing with family problems at the time of his misconduct and presented character witnesses who attested to his good character. He also entered into a pre-trial stipulation with the State Bar, saving time and money.

J. CLEG IVEY [#220680], 42, of Savannah, Ga. was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 60-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Jan. 2, 2014.

Ivey stipulated that he told the State Bar he was in compliance with MCLE requirements when he had not completed any MCLE courses within the compliance period and, as of the date of his stipulation, still had not come into compliance.

Ivey received some mitigation for having no prior record of discipline.

SUSAN L. JEFFRIES [#95296], 68, of Alameda was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual two-year suspension and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Jan. 2, 2014.

Jeffries stipulated that she knowingly falsely testified in court that she had served a family law real property lien and a charging lien on parties in a family law matter and had filed proofs of service for both.

In mitigation, Jeffries entered into a pre-trial stipulation with the State Bar. She has one prior record of discipline, a private reproval for failing to return a client’s file in a timely manner.

PABLO AURELIUS MANGA [#228582], 41, of San Francisco was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation with an actual 30-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Jan. 2, 2014.

Manga stipulated that he told the State Bar he was in compliance with his MCLE obligations and that he had done the necessary hours of courses within the compliance period, when he had not. In truth, Manga had only finished 4.5 of the 16 hours required and took the necessary courses after he was contacted during an MCLE audit.

In mitigation, Manga had no prior record of discipline, entered into a pre-filing stipulation with the State Bar has been involved in various community organizations since 2009.

EDWARD WILLIAM HAASE [#189819], 44, of San Diego was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 60-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Jan. 8, 2014.

Haase stipulated that he sought to mislead a judge and accepted compensation for representing a client from someone other than the client without first obtaining the client’s informed written consent.

In 2011, a woman hired Haase to represent her brother, who was in immigration custody following a 2009 criminal conviction. In an effort to attack the conviction that led to the deportation proceedings, Haase began preparing to file a petition for writ of habeas corpus. In October 2011, he signed the client’s name, without the client’s knowledge, to a court document related to the petition. Nowhere in the document did he indicate that he had signed on the client’s behalf. The following month, the court denied the petition for lack of proof substantiating the client’s claims.

In February 2012, Haase filed another petition with nearly identical claims after allowing the client to look it over and sign it. It was also denied.

In mitigation, Haase entered into a pre-filing stipulation with the State Bar and the client was not harmed by his conduct.

Haase had one prior record of discipline, a 2008 suspension for misconduct in two client matters. In one of the matters, Haase stipulated to disrespecting the immigration court and failing to obey court orders following federal disciplinary proceedings, which resulted in his public censure for failing to appear at four hearings without good cause.

In the other matter, Haase stipulated to misconduct stemming from failure to file a brief in an immigration matter. As a result, his client was ordered deported.

CHRISTIAN RHADAMES JUAREZ [#175611], 45, of San Pedro was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 60-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Jan. 8, 2014.

Juarez stipulated that he did not comply with the terms of a 2011 public reproval when he failed to submit quarterly reports to the Office of Probation on time, submit proof of attending Ethics School, submit proof of attending Client Trust Accounting School or submit proof of passage of the MPRE.

The public reproval was for not updating membership records information and failing to provide an accounting to a former client.

COREY MARTIN KAGAN [#228318], 46, of Pasadena was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years’ probation with an actual 18-month suspension. The order took effect Jan. 8, 2014.

Kagan’s suspension follows his successful completion of the State Bar’s Alternative Discipline Program. Kagan stipulated to the facts surrounding several drug-related convictions in 2010 and 2011. In September 2010, Kagan pleaded no contest to felony possession of a controlled substance – heroin – stemming from an incident in which Kagan and a woman were found at a Burbank motel in possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. That same month, he pleaded no contest to two felony counts of possession of a controlled substance, which resulted from his arrest at a hospital where he was being treated for numerous abscesses on his arms caused by injecting drugs. That month, he also pleaded guilty to possession of heroin after he was arrested on an outstanding warrant when he went to pick up his fiancée’s car after she was pulled over for driving on a suspended license.

In October 2010, Kagan pleaded no contest to possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine – and possession of a deadly weapon – brass knuckles.

Kagan again pleaded no contest to felony possession of a controlled substance in March 2011, after a police officer found him with drugs and drug paraphernalia during a traffic stop.

In mitigation, Kagan cooperated with the State Bar during its investigation and proceedings.

ANDREW FRANCIS LINEHAN [#194350], 52, of Temecula was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years’ probation with an actual one-year suspension and until he makes restitution. He was also ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Jan. 8, 2014.

The State Bar Court found that Linehan failed to obey court orders or cooperate in a State Bar investigation and practiced law when he was not eligible to do so. Linehan’s misconduct involved three client matters.

In one matter, in 2011, Linehan failed to pay $2,600 in sanctions to the opposing party in a dissolution matter. He later failed to formally respond to a State Bar investigator’s inquiries about the matter. In another case, in 2010, Linehan was ordered to pay the attorney for the plaintiff $33,766.50 in sanctions, but again did not do so or respond to a State Bar’s investigator’s letter asking him to respond to the allegations.

In 2012, Linehan was suspended as the result of not providing proof of having passed the MPRE as required by a 2011 disciplinary order. While he was suspended, he represented a client at a court hearing because the client had to take his daughter for chemotherapy and could not attend. Linehan again failed to respond to a State Bar investigator’s inquiries – this time involving allegations that he had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.  

Linehan has two prior records of discipline. In April 2011, he was suspended for misconduct in two client matters and a client trust accounting matter that included failing to perform legal services with competence or maintain client funds in a client trust account, and two counts of failing to promptly return client files and property. In May 2012, he was suspended again for nonpayment of sanctions in one client matter.

SHANNON MARIE DODGE [#258335], 32, of Bakersfield was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 90-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Jan. 10, 2014.

Dodge stipulated to the circumstances surrounding a 2012 conviction for discharging a firearm within city limits. On March 12, 2012, police were dispatched to Dodge’s Bakersfield apartment where they talked to a next-door neighbor who said she heard gunshots coming from inside the apartment. Dodge was not there, but officers found spent shell casings inside. While they were searching the apartment, they got a call from someone who was following a red Mustang – which matched the description of Dodge’s car – after witnesses saw the driver of the car get out and fire shots at the ground near homes. Police later stopped Dodge’s car and arrested her.

In mitigation, Dodge entered into a pre-trial stipulation with the State Bar, saving time and money.

WILLARD PHILLIP MCCRONE [#74763], 67, of Monterey was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation with an actual 30-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Jan. 10, 2014.

McCrone stipulated that in 2012 he falsely held himself out as entitled to practice law when he gave legal advice to a man and sent a settlement demand letter on attorney letterhead on the man’s behalf. At the time, McCrone was not entitled to practice law because he had not completed his MCLE requirements.

In mitigation, McCrone entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar and had no prior record of discipline.

TIMOTHY DAVID MYERS [#199356], 46, of Huntington Beach was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 90-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Jan. 10, 2014.

Myers stipulated that he failed to file a timely appeal on behalf of a client who had hired him to represent him and his company in a civil matter. In August 2010, the court filed a $10,000 judgment against the client and the client’s company, plus $2,475.11 in costs and $50,906.05 in attorney fees. The last day to appeal the judgment was Nov. 30, 2010, and although the client hired Myers to file the appeal, he did not do so until Feb. 4, 2011. That April, the court dismissed the appeal for being late.

As of the date of his stipulation, Myers had not repaid the fees the client paid him for the appeal. He was ordered to pay $3,510 plus interest in restitution.

In mitigation, Myers had no prior discipline and entered into a pre-trial stipulation.

THOMAS MELVIN SWIHART [#98564], 64, of Middletown was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual six-month suspension and ordered to take the MPRE, comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and pay sanctions. The order took effect Jan. 10, 2014.

Swihart stipulated to misconduct in two matters including filing skeleton petitions with the sole purpose of avoiding foreclosure, willfully disobeying or violating a court order and not reporting sanctions to the State Bar. In both of the matters, clients hired Swihart to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy petitions on their behalf, but Swihart did not submit all of the required forms and schedules at the time of filing or at any time after.

In one case, in 2009 and 2010, Swihart filed two skeleton bankruptcy petitions on behalf of a client that contained conflicting information about properties the client purported to own. In the petitions, Swihart claimed to have confirmed the information, but actually hadn’t.

The first petition was dismissed and on May 28, 2010, the Chapter 13 trustee filed a motion to dismiss the second case based on the inconsistencies between the two petitions and the impermissible filing of two petitions within six months. The court ultimately dismissed the case and ordered Swihart to pay $5,200 in sanctions to the U. S. Treasury. Swihart did not pay the sanctions and did not report them to the State Bar.

In the other misconduct case, beginning in February 2007, Swihart filed two skeleton bankruptcy petitions on behalf of a client, which were followed by three others filed by his client acting in pro per. When the court dismissed one of the petitions the client filed in pro per, the court threatened the client with $5,000 in sanctions should she file additional petitions without permission. Despite knowing that his client was barred from filing other petitions, Swihart did so again, indicating on the petition that no bankruptcies had been filed in the past eight years.

Ultimately, the court granted a motion for sanctions and ordered Swihart to return $2,200 in fees the client paid him and pay $2,000 to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Swihart paid the sanctions, but did not report them to the State Bar.

In mitigation, Swihart had no prior discipline in 27 years of practicing law, entered into a pre-trial stipulation with the State Bar and presented numerous references who attested to his good character.

LOUIS ALLEN LIBERTY [#147975], 58, of Foster City was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation and ordered to pay restitution. The order took effect Jan. 2, 2014.

The State Bar Court found Liberty culpable of two counts of misconduct in one client matter. He collected advanced fees for loan modification work and violated Civil Code section 2944.7 by including lien provisions in two agreements with a client.

For many years Liberty operated his business as the “Car Lawyer,” specializing in suing banks and car dealerships on behalf of clients who were dissatisfied with the terms and products of various types of car transactions. When the economy slumped and foreclosures surged, Liberty broadened his practice to include mortgage loan modifications, and started also calling himself the “House Lawyer.”

In the matter that led to his discipline, Liberty had a client sign something he referred to as a “modification package attorney-client agreement,” which included documents that laid out actions that a bank might take including foreclosing on the property and encouraging the homeowner to avoid communicating with the lender. Liberty also had his client pay $2,200 in upfront fees for the loan modification work. Although Liberty’s office made efforts to get a loan modification on behalf of the client, those efforts were unsuccessful and the home was foreclosed on and the client evicted.

In mitigation, Liberty had no prior record of discipline. He also received limited mitigation for pro bono service.

GUILLERMO SUAREZ M. [#181893], 63, of Los Angeles was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Jan. 8, 2014.

According to a stipulation he entered into with the State Bar, between September 2011 and October 2012 Suarez was employed as an attorney at Inland Empire Immigration Service Inc., a company owned and operated by non-attorneys. The company used non-attorneys to prepare and file immigration forms on behalf of its customers, thereby making strategic legal decisions on half of the company’s clients and engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. Suarez’s role was to make immigration court appearances on behalf of Inland Empire Immigration’s clients.

In one matter, in September 2011, a man hired Inland Empire Immigration to represent him in removal proceedings before the immigration court and to assist him in obtaining a work authorization from the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A non-attorney filed for a type of removal relief the client was not eligible to receive and then failed to tell him he was required to appear before the immigration court at a hearing. As a result, the client did not receive a work permit and was order deported in absentia.

In mitigation, Suarez had no prior record of discipline, entered into a pre-trial stipulation with the State Bar and ended his relationship with Inland Empire shortly after being contacted by the State Bar.

JOANNA TOOKER VOGEL [#158495], 52, of Garden Grove was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Jan. 10, 2014.

Vogel stipulated to misconduct in two family law matters: failing to perform legal services with competence, respond promptly to reasonable status inquires of a client or render an appropriate accounting to a client. In one of the matters that led to her discipline, a client hired Vogel in 2011 to help her gain custody of her grandchild. Although the client gave Vogel all of the information needed for a petition for guardianship and Vogel knew time was of the essence, she waited nearly three months to file the petition. During that time, the client called her repeatedly but Vogel did not return the messages or otherwise provide her with an update on the status of her case. In July 2011, the client fired Vogel and requested that all unearned fees be returned. Vogel did not did not provide her with a final accounting until July 22, 2013, while disciplinary charges were pending.

In the other matter, Vogel was hired in 2012 to represent a woman in divorce proceedings. For more than a month, the client tried to contact Vogel about an upcoming hearing but Vogel did not return her messages. The woman fired her as a result.

In mitigation, Vogel had no prior record of discipline, was suffering from severe depression resulting from the death of her mother and entered into a pre-trial stipulation with the State Bar.

. Caution!  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.