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Disbarments
  1. SUSAN LUCILLE HORNSBY
  2. WAYNE MARTIN FONG
  3. JAMES WILLIAM BRAVOS
  4. JAMES ROBERT PATTERSON
  5. ROBERT YUN LEE
  6. SAMUEL LEE HART
  7. BARRY LEE McCOWN
  8. ALEXANDER FU-PING SUN
  9. PHILIP ERIC MYERS
  10. TANMAY PRAMOD MISTRY
  11. STEVEN JAY STANWYCK
  12. FRANK MARTIN ENNIX III
  13. RICHARD HAMM
  14. JAMES WOODROW NELSON
  15. BENJAMIN ROBINSON
  16. STEVEN TSION MENDELSOHN

SUSAN LUCILLE HORNSBY [#216920], 57, of Alto, Texas, was disbarred Jan. 27, 2012, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Hornsby stipulated to disbarment as the result of her failure to comply with the conditions of a 2010 public reproval. She did not contact the State Bar’s probation office within 30 days, provide proof of attendance at eight self-help meetings per month, submit alcohol and drug screening reports or keep her address current with the bar.

Although Hornsby was aware the bar was not seeking her disbarment, because she no longer wishes to practice law in California and has no plans of returning to the state, she stipulated to disbarment.

WAYNE MARTIN FONG [#158172], 49, of Tustin was disbarred Jan. 27, 2012, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

While employed as associate counsel and vice president of Fidelity National Title Group Inc., Fong diverted $500,000 of the banks funds into several bank accounts under various fictitious business names that he controlled and then converted the funds for his own use. When the bank discovered his actions, it sued him. The parties reached a confidential settlement under which Fong made a lump sum payment of $100,000 and is required to pay an additional $400,000 to Fidelity National over the next 30 years.

In mitigation, he had no discipline record, took responsibility for his actions and had a gambling disorder. He is now enrolled in a rehabilitation program.

JAMES WILLIAM BRAVOS [#138097], 56, of San Diego was disbarred Jan. 27, 2012, 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 Bravos committed 12 counts of misconduct in three matters, including failures to perform legal services competently, advise clients of significant developments, promptly refund unearned fees, obey court orders and account for client fees, Bravos also represented clients with potential conflicts, collected an illegal fee and committed acts of moral turpitude, the court found.

He represented the husband and the wife in a divorce without obtaining a waiver for the potential conflict of interest. He delayed filing the petition (listing the wife as the petitioner) for four months and then tried to file a response for the husband. He missed hearings, did not tell his client about hearings or that the court threatened to dismiss the petition, didn’t complete the divorce and didn’t report a $1,500 sanction to the bar within five days.

In a second matter, he charged a client an illegal fee and practiced law while suspended. He didn’t refund the client’s advance fee.

Another client paid Bravos a $1,500 advance fee to negotiate her tax liability. A year later, he said he would begin negotiations with the IRS, but he never did so or took any steps to secure an agreement with the tax agency. He continually told the client he was working on her matter.

The IRS filed a federal tax lien against the client and told her to respond and request a hearing. Although Bravos indicated he had requested an extension of the deadline, he did not contact the IRS further and took no steps to negotiate on his client’s behalf.

Bravos has been disciplined twice previously. He was placed on probation in 2006 for misconduct including failures to perform legal services competently, report sanctions or obey a  court order and for commingling funds in his client trust account. His probation was revoked in 2008 for not complying with many probation conditions, including making restitution to a former client.

In recommending disbarment, Judge Donald Miles wrote of Bravos: “All of his misconduct in the three pending matters took place while he was on disciplinary probation, which included as a condition that he comply with his professional obligations. He has practiced law even when he was aware that he was not eligible to do so. He has continued to hold funds belonging to his clients, even after these proceedings were initiated. And now he has apparently elected to ignore the trial of the instant case, despite his obligation to appear for it.”

JAMES ROBERT PATTERSON [#171580], 47, of San Diego was disbarred Feb. 4, 2012, 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 Patterson committed 25 acts of misconduct in nine client matters, including nine counts of moral turpitude and one for advising a client to lie. In addition, he failed to perform legal services competently, return unearned fees, release a client file, maintain a current address with the bar or cooperate with the bar’s investigation, and he improperly withdrew from representation. Although Patterson submitted his resignation to the bar in 2009, the Supreme Court rejected it.

He originally worked for an immigration lawyer and when he left 12 years later, he took case files without the other lawyer’s agreement. All the matters that led to Patterson’s disbarment were immigration cases.

In one matter, for example, a client hired Patterson to appeal a denied application for cancellation of removal. After the appeal was denied, the client married a U.S. citizen and Patterson advised her that she could apply to immigrate through her husband without having to leave the country. However, he never filed a petition on her behalf, although he repeatedly told the client he had done so. The client ultimately was arrested and removed to Mexico.

When she returned later, Patterson prepared a petition that stated under penalty of perjury that the client was living in Mexico; he advised the client and her husband to sign the petition on different dates to create the appearance that she still lived in Mexico. Patterson never filed the petition.

He misappropriated money belonging to two clients and failed to refund unearned fees to three others. He was ordered to make restitution to four clients totaling $5,555, plus 10 percent interest.

ROBERT YUN LEE [#213848], 38, of Los Angeles was disbarred Feb. 9, 2012, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Lee stipulated that he misappropriated $24,928 of his client’s funds, committing an act of moral turpitude.

He represented a mother and her minor child in a personal injury case -- on a 50 percent contingency fee basis -- against their landlord, arising out of their exposure to toxic mold and mildew at their residence. Lee obtained a $40,000 settlement, but did not pay the doctor and allowed the balance in his account to drop below the required amount. He stipulated that he misappropriated $24,928 of the mother’s settlement funds. He repaid some but still owes $9,500.

Lee has been disciplined three times previously: he was publicly reproved in 2008, placed on probation in 2008 for failing to comply with conditions of the reproval, and in 2011, he was suspended after a conviction for misdemeanor battery.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation.

SAMUEL LEE HART [#66135], 68, of West Hills was disbarred Feb. 9, 2012, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Hart stipulated to eight counts of misconduct in two matters, including misappropriating  $201,081.70 from a client. In that matter, he represented the administrator of an estate, and filed an accounting of $441,976.83 from the sale of a home and a piece of desert real property valued at $1,500. He was required to maintain more than $200,000 in his client trust account for one of the beneficiaries, but he never gave the man any money and allowed the balance of his trust account to fall to $31.36. He never accounted for the funds and did not respond to either a new lawyer for the beneficiary or a bar investigator.

In the second matter, Hart received two checks for a client − for $8,317.26 and $256.81 − but did not provide any funds to the client. Hart misappropriated $8,542.71, committing an act of moral turpitude.

Hart was disciplined in 1993. In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar by resolving the issue early.

BARRY LEE McCOWN [#89603], 59, of Bakersfield was disbarred Feb. 9, 2012, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

McCown stipulated to five counts of misconduct in three matters.

While serving as the “special trustee” for an “operative trust,” he did not provide a trust accounting but took fees of more than $24,000 although the trust forbade him from doing so. He breached his fiduciary duties, committing an act of moral turpitude. He disobeyed a court order by failing to account for money in the trust.

McCown also did not complete a living trust for two people who paid a $1,000 fee and signed and provided various documents. He also did not cooperate with the bar’s investigation of a complaint filed by a Kern County judge.

The stipulation states that McCown’s behavior “is analogous to that situation when the member is culpable of willful misappropriation of entrusted funds.”

McCown was disciplined in 1992. In mitigation, he acted in good faith, suffered a heart attack and had serious financial problems.

ALEXANDER FU-PING SUN [#149437], 59, of Arcadia was summarily disbarred Feb. 10, 2012, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

He was convicted in 2009 of insurance fraud, a crime that meets the criteria for summary disbarment because it is a felony involving moral turpitude. Sun was placed on interim suspension Nov. 13, 2009.

He also was suspended and placed on probation in 2005 after stipulating that he he failed to maintain client funds in his trust account and misappropriated at least $21,908 that he was holding in trust for two people.

PHILIP ERIC MYERS [#77543], 60, of Pasadena was disbarred Feb. 11, 2012, 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 Myers committed four acts of misconduct as the trustee of a revocable trust, from which he misappropriated at least $89,021.04, breaching his fiduciary duty.

Myers became the trustee of the Buckalew Trust in 2001 and transferred money in and out of the trust account for several years. He wrote checks to his ex-wife ($4,275), his daughter in England ($20,000) and CompUSA ($1,845) from the account, and transferred some other client funds into the account. When a home owned by the trust was sold, proceeds totaling $95,721 were deposited in the trust account. Just under $6,700 was disbursed to two beneficiaries, one with a cognitive disability who received assistance from a nonprofit organization that helped pay his bills.

Bar court Judge Richard Platel found that when the account was closed, it held a balance of $176.84. With the exception of the $6,690 that went to the beneficiaries, no money was disbursed for the benefit of the trust or its beneficiaries. Platel said Myers breached his fiduciary duties to the trust and misappropriated at least $89,021. He also did not maintain complete records of trust funds and didn’t respond to requests for an inventory of the trust’s assets or an accounting of its funds.

Although Myers practiced law for 29 years without any discipline, his record was not compelling enough to outweigh “his very serious misconduct.”

Myers “abandoned his fiduciary duties that he owed to the Buckalew Trust and its beneficiaries and has offered no explanation regarding the misappropriation of at least $89,021.04,” Platel wrote.

TANMAY PRAMOD MISTRY [#251425], 32, of Hacienda Heights was disbarred Feb. 11, 2012, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

The State Bar Court found that Mistry committed 13 acts of misconduct, including failures to perform legal services competently, promptly return unearned fees or communicate with clients. He  also committed acts of moral turpitude. The misconduct stemmed from Mistry’s loan modification representation of mostly Spanish-speaking, unsophisticated clients.

He was associated with a loan modification business known variously as Safehaven, Protection Familiar Plus, Your Dreams Come True Investments and Home Loan Negotiators. The business was owned and operated by nonlawyers. When clients complained that Safehaven took their money without doing any work, and it appeared that Safehaven operated under Mistry’s name, law enforcement contacted him. Mistry denied knowing about the loan modification operation, said he didn’t have a business relationship with Safehaven and claimed to be a victim of identity theft.

Eventually, Mistry admitted he authorized Safehaven to use his name as an attorney and to use his signature. In exchange, he received $4,000 a month. He provided the bar with a list of 549 clients obtained through Safehaven and rescinded his claim of identity theft.

Safehaven had a practice of filing fraudulent grant deeds granting a 5 percent interest in the loan modification client’s property to one or more fictitious individuals. The company also filed bankruptcies on behalf of loan modification clients, sometimes without their permission. In some cases, it used the fraudulent grant deeds to further bankruptcy fraud. Safehaven also had a practice of charging clients to prepare bankruptcy petitions and then filing the petitions in pro per without disclosing to the bankruptcy court the fees paid to Safehaven for the preparation of the petition.

Although Mistry knew about the company’s practices, he did nothing about it. Judge Lucy Armendariz, who said Mistry’s testimony lacked credibility, said he does not accept responsibility for his actions and “calls his victims perpetrators who knowingly participated in the grant deed and bankruptcy fraud.” The judge also said Mistry said he had no duty to be honest with investigators because he was not under oath. He argues there is nothing for him to refund or account for since he did not personally ever receive the clients’ funds.

In recommending his disbarment, Armendariz wrote that Mistry “sold his law license and, in so doing, caused significant harm to vulnerable, desperate clients, the public and the administration of justice. And he still does not understand that he did that.”

STEVEN JAY STANWYCK [#48728], 66, of Santa Monica was disbarred Feb. 11, 2012, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

The State Bar Court’s review department upheld a hearing judge’s decision and found that Stanwyck maintained unjust actions in state and federal courts for more than five years. He was declared a vexatious litigant in 2002 and was sanctioned by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for abusing the judicial process. A bar hearing judge found him unfit to practice and recommended that he be disbarred.

Stanwyck sought review, arguing that the bar did not present convincing evidence of his misconduct and asking that the hearing judge’s decision be reversed.

He represented United Computer Systems (UCS) in protracted litigation against several parties, including AT&T, Lucent Technologies and NCR. In 2001, AT&T won a motion to declare Stanwyck a vexatious litigant after he filed several unsuccessful lawsuits. A superior court found that in addition to filing the actions, he “repeatedly re-litigated issues, filed unmeritorious pleadings and engaged in frivolous tactics solely intended to cause unnecessary delay,” according to the review panel. It found he maintained an unjust action in state court.

The panel also found he did the same in federal courts. A district court declared Stanwyck a vexatious litigant for maintaining five actions over seven years, many involving meritless appeals and attempts to re-litigate prior decisions, and it found he abused the judicial process. He appealed to the Ninth Circuit, filing several additional motions there. That court affirmed the district court and imposed sanctions of $16,000 in attorney fees against Stanwyck for abusing the judicial process.

In recommending Stanwyck’s disbarment, the panel wrote, “Despite countless opportunities to conform his behavior to the ethical demands of the profession, Stanwyck chose instead to continue his meritless litigation. We are troubled that he fails to realize that his actions go beyond zealous advocacy, and believe he will continue abusing the legal system.”

FRANK MARTIN ENNIX III [#40459], 76, of Oakland was disbarred Feb. 23, 2012, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Ennix stipulated to six counts of misconduct in four matters, including failure to submit on time a rule 9.20 compliance declaration stating that he notified his clients, opposing counsel and other interested parties of his suspension. He did not submit a corrected declaration, as ordered by the court. Failure to comply with the rule is grounds for disbarment.

In a personal injury case, he represented three passengers and the driver of a car involved in an accident. The parties had potentially conflicting interests but Ennix did not obtain their informed written consent.

In another personal injury case, Ennix’s paralegal sent a demand letter for $24,000 on behalf of his client. Another paralegal told the client the case would settle soon. When the insurer offered to settle for $1,500, Ennix said he did not understand that a monetary offer had been made. He did not transmit the offer to the client or respond to it and the insurer closed the file. Ennix stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently or keep a client informed of significant developments in his case.

When he settled another personal injury case, he told the client he would take care of her medical bills. He did not do so, however, and the matter went to collection. An attempt to pay the client’s doctor failed because he wrote a check against insufficient funds, although he provided a cashier’s check for $1,000. He stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently or promptly pay out client funds.

Ennix has been suspended three times previously. In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation.

RICHARD HAMM [#61401], 65, of San Jose was disbarred Feb. 23, 2012, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

The State Bar Court found that Hamm failed to comply with probation conditions attached to two disciplinary orders. He failed to provide monthly screening reports to the probation office, used alcohol three times and did not submit quarterly probation reports on time. He also practiced law while suspended, committing an act of moral turpitude, by appearing at a case management conference. He declared under penalty of perjury in a probation report that he complied with the State Bar Act, when in fact he had practiced while suspended. In addition, Hamm used his client trust account to pay personal expenses.

Hamm has been disciplined three times previously. In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation, demonstrated remorse and enrolled in the Lawyer Assistance Program, and no one was harmed by his actions.

In recommending Hamm’s disbarment, Judge Pat McElroy wrote, “It appears that respondent does not take his ethical duties seriously although he has been given ample opportunity to demonstrate otherwise. The court cannot take another chance on respondent at this time.”

JAMES WOODROW NELSON [#74830], 71, of Salinas was disbarred Feb. 23, 2012, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Nelson sought review of a hearing judge’s disbarment recommendation for misconduct in two matters. A three-judge review panel upheld the hearing judge’s finding that Nelson represented a party without any authority and sought to mislead the bankruptcy court by making false statements in the first matter. In the second, it found he misappropriated more than $17,000 and failed to promptly pay client funds.

Nelson purchased a Salinas newspaper for $1,500 and agreed to hold the owner harmless from all creditors’ claims. However, he never paid the owner, Bellah LLC, or the paper’s creditors and didn’t finalize the purchase of the paper. When Nelson filed a bankruptcy on behalf of Bellah, he claimed to own the company and listed a commercial property as an asset of the bankruptcy estate. According to the review department, he “intended to utilize the bankruptcy proceeding as a means of obtaining Bellah’s assets,” including the commercial property he valued at $800,000.

Nelson filed various pleadings and documents asserting that he was Bellah’s attorney, CEO and owner. The case was dismissed after the opposing counsel argued that Nelson had no connection to Bellah and had no authority to file the bankruptcy petition. In his response, Nelson falsely stated that he represented Bellah.

In a second matter, he filed bankruptcy for a client who was entitled to receive more than $17,000 from the proceeds of the sale of a residence. He never gave the client the money and claims he is owed $5,945 in attorney’s fees, an argument the court rejected. It found he allowed the balance in his trust account to fall below the required amount, committed an act of moral turpitude by misappropriating $17,255.60, and did not promptly pay out client funds.

In recommending Nelson’s disbarment, Judge JoAnn Remke wrote, “his misconduct was egregious and consisted of many improper acts, most of which manifested dishonesty.”

BENJAMIN ROBINSON [#107550], 70, of Marina del Rey was disbarred Feb. 23, 2012, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

The State Bar Court found that Robinson committed eight acts of misconduct in two cases, including misappropriating client funds.

In the first matter, he represented the defendant in a wrongful termination case, but he failed to respond to many motions and orders to compel and his client was sanctioned $1,540. At another point, the court sanctioned Robinson and his client $2,410. Robinson filed a declaration that included a motion that he be awarded sanctions for having to file an opposition to the other side’s motion.

He didn’t inform the client that the court had entered numerous orders against him and after he was fired, he did not return the file for several months. He was on disability for part of the representation due to migraines. The court found that he failed to perform legal services competently, inform a client of significant developments in his case or release a file.

Another client paid Robinson $10,000 as an advance fee and $5,000 for deposition costs, filing fees and other costs. He deposited the funds in his client trust account. By failing to file an opposition to the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, as ordered by the court, and continually failing to do so, he failed to perform competent legal services or obey a court order. The judge specifically told him to inform his client of “the perilous position in which he has been placed due to his counsel’s conduct,” but Robinson did not even tell the client about the order.

Robinson also did not tell the client that a judgment was entered against him and he misappropriated $4,850 the client provided for costs.

Robinson has been disciplined twice previously, in 1998 and 2010. The bar court found that he displayed a lack of candor in his trial and continues to blame others for his misconduct.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation and offered testimony about his good character.

In recommending Robinson’s disbarment, Judge Donald Miles pointed to the misappropriation of client funds for personal reasons, adding, “his dishonesty with the court about that misappropriation and his demonstrated disregard for his obligations to his clients and the courts causes this court to be significantly concerned that his misconduct will continue in the future.”

STEVEN TSION MENDELSOHN [#99952], 61, of San Francisco was disbarred Feb. 29, 2012, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

He stipulated to five counts of misconduct in two matters that involved US Legal, a firm owned by nonattorneys that filed predatory lender lawsuits on behalf of homeowners who paid advance attorney’s fees monthly to the firm. US Legal hired outside lawyers and paid them $250 per month.

A client who paid US Legal $10,000 was represented by Mendelsohn, but he did no work after filing the initial complaint, and he did not respond to the client’s emails or refund his fee. He also stipulated that he shared fees with nonlawyers. Mendelsohn also filed a lawsuit for a second client but did no subsequent work. He received no fees in that matter.

Mendelsohn stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently, refund unearned fees or communicate with a client and he split fees with nonattorneys. His behavior caused significant harm to his clients.

In mitigation, he had no prior discipline record, cooperated with the bar’s investigation, displayed remorse and suffered from extreme emotional and physical problems.

. 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.