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Suspensions/Probation

Below is a list of 14 attorneys who were suspended and/or placed on probation by the State Bar as a result of misconduct. The list covers Jan. 1 through Jan. 31, 2016. See an explanation of common discipline terms.

  1. ERIKSON MCDONNELL DAVIS
  2. ESTHER M. KIM
  3. KEVIN RENARD TAYLOR
  4. BYRON TALBOT BALL
  5. TARA JEAN COLLINS
  6. MICHAEL WILLIAM NEWCOMB
  7. MICHAEL STEPHEN STEINER
  8. SOUSAN ALEMANSOUR
  9. OREN MARK ATIAS
  10. SARAH HEMBROW
  11. LOUISE A. LEWIS
  12. KENNETH EDWARD OSTROVE
  13. LDOUGLAS ROBERT SHOEMAKER
  14. JENNIFER SUSAN SMITH

ERIKSON MCDONNELL DAVIS [#197841], 64, of Los Angeles, was suspended from the practice of law for two years and until he shows proof of his rehabilitation. He was also ordered to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. In addition, he was placed on three years’ probation and faces a three-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Jan. 6, 2017.

Davis admitted to misconduct in 11 matters including failing to supervise his non-attorney staff, collecting upfront fees for loan modification services and breaching his fiduciary duty. In September 2013, Davis assumed ownership of the Real Estate Law Center, becoming its director, chief executive officer, secretary and chief financial officer. The company used advertising to attract clients, who would meet with non-attorney staff, and claimed it could help its clients obtain loan modifications by challenging the practices of service providers and lenders via lawsuits.

None of the clients named in the 11 discipline matters received loan modifications as the result of Davis’ company’s efforts. As of July 2016, Davis had only made a partial refund to one client.  

He was ordered to pay $34,731.34 plus interest in restitution.

ESTHER M. KIM [#271155], 35, of Hesperia, was suspended from the practice of law for 30 days and ordered to take the MPRE. She was also placed on two years’ probation and faces a one-year suspension if she fails to comply with the terms of her disciplinary probation. The order took effect Jan. 6, 2017.

Kim failed to perform legal services with competence by not responding to settlement offers made in her clients’ case, not serving the defendant after filing their lawsuit and not appearing for multiple court dates. In addition, she failed to keep her clients informed of significant developments in their case or respond to their numerous emails and voicemails requesting an update.

KEVIN RENARD TAYLOR [#218711], 43, of Beverly Hills, was suspended from the practice of law for one year and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He was also placed on two years’ probation and faces a two-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Jan. 6, 2017.

Taylor failed to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He did not comply with three fee arbitration conditions, attend State Bar Ethics School by deadline or submit a final written report to the Office of Probation.

He was on probation after failing to appear at six court appearances on a client’s behalf, provide a full accounting and obey a court order by paying sanctions.

Taylor engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing and had two prior records of discipline. He entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar.

BYRON TALBOT BALL [#150195], 52, of Los Angeles, was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Jan. 6, 2017.

In December 2013, Ball filed a lawsuit in a woman’s name without permission and appeared on her behalf in court without authority. The woman did not learn about the lawsuit until a month or so after it was filed and demanded that Ball have it dismissed. While Ball filed a request for dismissal of the lawsuit, he failed to serve an order on all parties and counsel, as required, or to appear at a subsequent hearing. He also failed to follow multiple court orders including that he pay $367 to the woman to cover out-of-pocket expenses she incurred as a result of his misconduct and $1,500 to the court within 30 days. He did not report the sanctions to the State Bar and only paid the sanctions after the State Bar contacted him.

Ball engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing and his conduct caused harm to the administration of justice. Sixteen character witnesses attested to his good character, he had no prior record of discipline and he had done significant civic service.

TARA JEAN COLLINS [#232561], 41, of Beaumont, was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if she fails to comply with the terms of her disciplinary probation. She was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Jan. 6, 2017.

Collins falsely reported under penalty of perjury she was in compliance with her MCLE requirements when she was not. She completed the necessary hours after being contacted in connection with an MCLE audit.

She had no prior record of discipline, presented nine letters attesting to her good character and entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar.

MICHAEL WILLIAM NEWCOMB [#188321], 46, of Temecula, was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Jan. 6, 2017.

Newcomb failed to perform competently by not filing articles of organization for his client’s company or providing an accounting to his client. In a second matter, he failed to inform a client of the Court of Appeal’s denial of her writ of mandate, waited three months to inform the client a court had entered a default judgment against her and failed to release client papers and property.

His misconduct resulted in significant harm to a client who was forced to hire a new attorney after Newcomb failed to perform.

Newcomb had no prior record of discipline and entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar.

MICHAEL STEPHEN STEINER [#262189], 36, of San Diego, was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Jan. 6, 2017.

In October 2014, Steiner pleaded guilty to domestic battery, a misdemeanor. The charge stemmed from an Aug. 9, 2014 fight that occurred between Steiner and his girlfriend at their home. The two got into an argument during which Steiner pushed the woman against the wall. She was breastfeeding the couple’s baby at the time and Steiner’s two older children were also present.

Steiner left the house with the two older children but returned a few minutes later and the argument resumed. He grabbed her by the arm, grabbed her throat and pushed her into a wall. She had scrapes on her right arm, neck and knees.

Steiner had no prior record of discipline, entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar, provided eight character witnesses from a variety of backgrounds who attested to his good character, rehabilitation efforts and understanding of his misconduct. He has done community service and voluntarily enrolled and completed anger management and parenting classes.

SOUSAN ALEMANSOUR [#180216], 56, of Irvine, was suspended from the practice of law for one year and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. She was also placed on two years’ probation and faces a two-year suspension if she fails to comply with the terms of her disciplinary probation. The order took effect Jan. 19, 2017.

Alemansour engaged in misconduct in two matters. In the first, she failed to render an account of client funds or refund unearned fees in a divorce matter she handled. The second matter arose out of Alemansour’s 2015 criminal conviction for child abduction, assault, battery and violation of a protective order.

During an April 2015 supervised visit with her son, Alemansour ordered the boy into her car then got in a scuffle with the case monitor, who tried unsuccessfully to prevent her from driving off with the child. She then boarded a plane with the child bound for Chicago, where she was ultimately arrested.

Alemansour engaged in multiple acts of misconduct and her child’s father had to pay the cost of flying their son back from Chicago. She also displayed a lack of remorse and candor in proceedings before the State Bar Court.

She had no prior record of discipline.

OREN MARK ATIAS [#263534], 36, of Newport Beach, was suspended from the practice of law for 18 months and ordered to take the MPRE. He was also placed on three years’ probation and faces a two-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Jan. 19, 2017.

Atias was suspended following his successful completion of the Alternative Discipline Program. His discipline stems from eight criminal convictions, including three misdemeanors for driving under the influence, and a felony, driving under the influence with prior convictions. Additionally, he was convicted on May 8, 2012 of possession of a controlled substance, possession of methamphetamine, use of a false compartment for drug storage  – all felonies – and misdemeanor possession drug paraphernalia of a controlled substance.

On Feb. 1, 2012, he pleaded guilty to hit and run and making a false report of a crime, both misdemeanors. On May 7, 2012, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor violations of possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. On May 31, 2013, he pleaded guilty to driving on a suspended license, a misdemeanor.

SARAH HEMBROW [#175303], 65, of Santa Rosa, was suspended from the practice of law for one year and until she makes restitution. She was also ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. In addition, she was placed on two years’ probation and faces a two-year suspension if she fails to comply with the terms of her disciplinary probation. The order took effect Jan. 19, 2017.

Hembrow was disciplined for 16 acts of misconduct in six matters including committing an act involving dishonesty and failing to perform with competence, respond to clients’ requests for updates on the status of their cases or return client files and fees.

In one of the matters, she failed to file a marital settlement agreement and other documentation to finalize her client’s divorce despite telling the client her divorce would be settled in six weeks. The client left her voicemails and sent about 18 emails asking about the status of her case, most of which Hembrow ignored. When Hembrow finally spoke to the client, she claimed to have filed the paperwork and said she was waiting on the court. The client eventually contacted the court and learned that Hembrow had not filed the necessary paperwork.

In another divorce case, Hembrow failed to return a client’s file despite being asked roughly 25 times, failed to refund unearned fees and failed to respond to 25 written status requests from his client.

In another matter, she repeatedly failed to take steps to complete her clients’ adoption paperwork, forcing them to have to complete the adoption process themselves. She also failed to return all of the $3,500 the client paid her in advance to prepare and file the necessary adoption paperwork.

She was ordered to pay $9,350 plus interest in restitution. She had no prior record of discipline and entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar.

LOUISE A. LEWIS [#102792], 74, of Alhambra, was suspended from the practice of law for 18 months and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. She was also placed on three years’ probation and faces a three-year suspension if she fails to comply with the terms of her disciplinary probation. The order took effect Jan. 19, 2017.

 

Lewis was disciplined for misconduct in two matters. In one, she failed to comply with the terms of her disciplinary probation by not contacting the Office of Probation by deadline to schedule a meeting and failing to submit four quarterly reports on time.

In the other matter, she engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and moral turpitude by practicing law while she was not an active member of the State Bar.

She had two prior records of discipline. She entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar, presented 13 individuals willing to attest to her good character and has done significant pro bono work.

KENNETH EDWARD OSTROVE [#111222], 59, of Valley Village, was suspended from the practice of law for 30 days. He was also placed on two years’ probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Jan. 19, 2017.

The State Bar Court found Ostrove improperly withdrew from employment. Ostrove kept a man’s documents for more than a year, though he claimed the man was never his client. He repeatedly told the man he was looking into his matter and did not make it clear he did not represent him. The man was trying to get access to his deceased wife’s pension.  

Ostrove received some mitigation for his community service. He had two prior records of discipline.

DOUGLAS ROBERT SHOEMAKER [#230379], 42, of Woodland Hills, was suspended from the practice of law for 60 days and ordered to take the MPRE. He was also placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Jan. 6, 2017.

In June 2014, Shoemaker falsely reported to the State Bar he had complied with the 25-hour Minimum Continuing Legal Education requirement during the compliance period when he knew he hadn’t. He also failed to provide a written response or otherwise cooperate with a disciplinary investigation.

Shoemaker actions constituted multiple acts of misconduct. However, he had no prior record of discipline and entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar.

JENNIFER SUSAN SMITH [#75056], 67, of Haleiwa, Hawaii, was suspended from the practice of law for 30 days and ordered to take the MPRE. She was also placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if she fails to comply with the terms of her disciplinary probation. The order took effect Jan. 6, 2017.

Smith reported under penalty of perjury she was in compliance with her MCLE requirements when she wasn’t. She completed the necessary hours after she was contacted in connection with an MCLE audit.

Smith had no prior record of discipline and entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar.

Discipline-related resources from the State Bar: