Share

Share this on Twitter Share this on Facebook Share this on Linked In Share this by Email
 
Disbarments
  1. ROBERT ALAN PFAFF
  2. STEPHINE M. WELLS
  3. DAVID STANTON MOYNIHAN
  4. SUSAN ANN MITCHELL
  5. REDMOND PATER McANENY
  6. JOHN ANTHONY LUETTO
  7. LISA RENAE HAMMOND
  8. JUDITH A. CENTERS

ROBERT ALAN PFAFF [#93439], 61, of Denver, Colo., was summarily disbarred June 10, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Pfaff was convicted in 2010 of mail fraud, wire fraud and filing a false tax return. Because each of the offenses is a felony involving moral turpitude, they meet the criteria for summary disbarment. He has been on interim suspension since March 29, 2010.

STEPHINE M. WELLS [#113148], 67, of Mill Valley was disbarred June 17, 2011, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

The State Bar Court review department recommended Wells’ disbarment after finding she violated probation by filing late quarterly reports and not attending Ethics School in one case and she filed her rule 9.20 affidavit late and without reasonable justification in a separate case. A hearing judge had recommended a lengthy suspension and probation after finding that a medical condition prevented Wells from meeting her obligations in the disciplinary cases. The bar sought review, asking that Wells be disbarred, and Wells argued that the bar failed to prove any charges against her, and that no more than a private reproval should be imposed.

The review department case was Wells’ fourth discipline, the first in 1993 for commingling funds in her client trust account and failing to deposit disputed client funds in trust. In 2006, she was suspended and placed on probation for practicing law in South Carolina without a license, charging illegal and unconscionable fees, failing to return unearned fees or maintain client funds in trust, and she repeatedly committed acts involving moral turpitude. 

While that discipline was still pending, Wells repeatedly drafted checks on her client trust account against insufficient funds, acts of moral turpitude, and led to the requirement that she comply with rule 9.20. Her failure to comply with probation conditions led to the disbarment.

In recommending disbarment, Judge Catherine Purcell of the review panel said her “remorse, community service, nominal good character and physical and emotional difficulties do not establish compelling mitigation that preponderates over her extensive disciplinary record, multiple acts of wrongdoing, uncharged misconduct and lack of cooperation. Wells disregarded her probation obligations, which are designed to rehabilitate the attorney and to protect the public from similar future misconduct.”

DAVID STANTON MOYNIHAN [#190701], 68, of San Diego was summarily disbarred June 18, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Moynihan pleaded guilty to grand theft in 2010. Because the conviction is a felony involving moral turpitude, it meets the requirements for summary disbarment. He has been on interim suspension since Dec. 3, 2010.

SUSAN ANN MITCHELL [#158640], 55, of Huntington Beach was disbarred June 18, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Mitchell failed to comply with a rule 9.20 order by not filing with the court an affidavit stating that she notified her clients, opposing counsel and other interested parties of her 2010 suspension from practice. Failure to comply with the rule is grounds for disbarment.

Mitchell originally was privately reproved in 2005 for failing to perform legal services competently and cooperate with the State Bar in a single client matter.

In the underlying discipline, the bar court found in a default proceeding that Mitchell failed to deposit client funds in a client trust account, avoid adverse interests or deliver client properties promptly, and she engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, charged an illegal fee, commingled funds in her trust account and committed acts of moral turpitude. In addition to the rule 9.20 requirement, the bar court suspended her until she proved her rehabilitation and until it granted a motion to end her suspension.

In recommending Mitchell’s disbarment, bar court Judge Richard Platel wrote that she “has demonstrated an unwillingness to comply with the professional obligations and rules of court imposed on California attorneys although she has been given opportunities to do so. Therefore, her disbarment is necessary to protect the public, the courts, and the legal community; to maintain high professional standards; and to preserve public confidence in the legal profession.” 

REDMOND PETER McANENY [#73808], 66, of Newport Beach was disbarred June 18, 2011, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

He stipulated to three counts of misconduct, including misappropriating almost $118,000 from a client’s trust, an act of moral turpitude. As part of a settlement agreement, McAneny was to pay the attorney fees to the opposing party for drafting the agreement, then pay the remaining funds to the client. He received and deposited in his client trust account $117,924.32 but proceeded to spend it down to $18,384.35.

He never paid the client, who made many attempts to contact McAneny, or any other party entitled to funds. In an effort to conceal the misappropriation, he made a series of misstatements to the client.

He stipulated that he failed to maintain client funds in trust or pay out any funds, and he misappropriated the entire settlement.

McAneny also was disciplined in 1993. In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation and he was under severe financial stress at the time of the misconduct.

JOHN ANTHONY LUETTO [#71747], 61, of Fullerton was disbarred June 18, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Luetto was admitted to the State Bar’s Alternative Discipline Program in 2008 after he stipulated to misconduct. Part of the stipulation was an agreement that failure to successfully complete the ADP would mean disbarment.

He admitted that he committed acts of moral turpitude by misappropriating $43,656.28 in client funds and making misrepresentations and that he failed to perform legal services competently, maintain client funds in a trust account, promptly pay client funds, notify a client promptly of the receipt of funds or cooperate with the bar’s investigation. Luetto was unable or refused to account for his conduct in relation to the property or funds and his misconduct significantly harmed a client.

He settled his clients’ personal injury actions for about $80,000 and was required to maintain at least $53,000 on the clients’ behalf. He allowed the balance to fall below the required amount and used some of the money to pay his mortgage. The client, who had not received any funds and had lost her job, filed a complaint with the Orange County Bar Association. Luetto misrepresented to OCBA that he maintained the clients’ settlement funds in trust on behalf of the clients and their doctors.

He also was privately reproved in 2004 for failing to pay settlement funds or a doctor’s bill and for not communicating with clients.

In mitigation, he had emotional or physical difficulties that were directly responsible for his misconduct. However, he received no mitigation for his participation in either the ADP or the Lawyer Assistance Program.

LISA RENAE HAMMOND [#219196], 46, of White House, Tenn., was disbarred June 18, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Hammond did not comply with a 2010  rule 9.20 requirement by failing to file with the court a declaration that she notified her clients, opposing counsel or any interested party of her suspension. Failure to comply with the rule is grounds for disbarment.

In addition, the court found she committed three acts of misconduct in a personal injury matter she undertook in 2007. She performed no legal services nor replied to her client’s inquiries, and she failed to cooperate with a bar investigation.

In the underlying matter, also a personal injury case, the bar court found in a default proceeding that Hammond failed to perform legal services competently, communicate with the client or cooperate with the bar’s investigation, and she committed an act of dishonesty. She was suspended until the court granted a motion to end the suspension.

In recommending Hammond’s disbarment, bar court Judge Richard Platel said she “has demonstrated an unwillingness to comply with the professional obligations and rules of court imposed on California attorneys although she has been given opportunities to do so. Therefore, her disbarment is necessary to protect the public, the courts and the legal community, to maintain high professional standards, and to preserve public confidence in the legal profession.”

JUDITH A. CENTERS [#150247], 58, of La Mirada was disbarred June 18, 2011, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Centers stipulated that she did not comply with a 2009 rule 9.20 requirements by failing to file with the State Bar Court a declaration that she had notified her clients, opposing counsel and other interested parties of her suspension from practice. Failure to comply with the rule is grounds for disbarment.

The order was included in a probation revocation imposed when Centers did not comply with probation conditions attached to a 2008 suspension. That discipline was imposed after Centers stipulated to eight counts of misconduct in two matters. In one matter, she failed to perform legal services competently, respond to her client’s reasonable status inquiries or keep her client informed of developments in her case. In the second matter, she also stipulated that she ignored her client’s request for her file and improperly appeared as the attorney for a party who had fired her.

In mitigation, she cooperated with the bar by stipulating to misconduct.

. 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.