Christopher Glenn Beckom
State Bar No. 306557, Bakersfield (July 14, 2021)
Beckom was disbarred by default. He did not file a response to the notice of disciplinary charges against him, which the State Bar Court judge determined had been properly filed and served. Though one set of the charges sent by mail was returned as undeliverable, at some point, Beckom sent an email message to the State Bar inquiring about resigning with charges pending, thereby acknowledging he had received a copy of the charges pending against him.
He did not move to have the default order the court entered against him set aside or vacated.
Beckom was found culpable of all five counts of professional misconduct charged—including failing to maintain the required balance in his client trust account, commingling personal funds in that account, and failing to promptly pay the client funds to which he was entitled, as well as two counts involving moral turpitude: issuing checks from an account with an insufficient balance and misappropriating more than $20,000 of the client’s funds.
All counts of wrongdoing in the case pertained to a single client matter.
Philip Isaac Myer
State Bar No. 73645, La Canada Flintridge (July 7, 2021)
Myer was disbarred by default after he failed to participate in his disciplinary proceedings, either in person or through counsel. After receiving the notice of disciplinary charges, he contacted the State Bar to indicate he would not contest the allegations they contained. He did not move to have the default subsequently entered against him set aside or vacated.
He was found culpable of violating a court rule by failing to file a declaration of compliance requiring suspended attorneys to give notice to clients, courts, and counsel as required (Cal. Rules of Ct., Rule 9.20).
Myer had one prior record of discipline, and there were three other State Bar investigations pending against him when he was disbarred in the instant case.
James Alan Diamond
State Bar No. 118484, Gardena (July 14, 2021)
Diamond was suspended from the practice of law for 30 days and placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to committing four acts of professional misconduct related to a single client matter.
His wrongdoing included: failing to perform legal services with competence, failing to respond to reasonable client inquiries, failing to provide the client with a proper accounting, and failing to participate in the State Bar’s investigation of the misconduct alleged.
In the underlying matter, Diamond was hired to defend a client involved in a family trust dispute. Shortly after he was retained, the opposing party agreed to settle and dismiss the client from the case. Diamond filed a petition to approve the settlement agreement, which was granted—though a subsequent petition seeking to dismiss the client from the action was rejected.
Diamond did not inform the client of either action, and did not inform her he failed to refile a request for dismissal until 2 ½ years after the court had rejected the initial request, when he also provided the accounting she sought. Prior to that, Diamond failed to respond to several emails requesting information about the status of the case—nor did he respond meaningfully to the State Bar investigator eventually assigned to the matter.
In aggravation, Diamond committed multiple acts of wrongdoing.
In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation and had practiced law for approximately 32 years without a record of discipline.
Wendell Jamon Jones
State Bar No. 202302, Campbell (July 14, 2021)
Jones was suspended for three years and placed on probation for five years after he stipulated to committing six acts of professional misconduct related to two client matters.
He was culpable of: holding himself out as entitled to practice law when he was not and actually practicing law while not an active bar member—misconduct involving moral turpitude, as well as two counts each of collecting fees before fully performing loan modification services promised to clients and collecting illegal fees.
In one of the underlying cases, Jones entered into fee agreements to provide loan modification services for clients—accepting advanced payments as “legal consultation fees” in contravention of controlling statutory provisions (Cal. Civ Code Section 2944.7).
The other matter came to light through a State Bar-initiated investigation. Jones had been actually suspended from practicing law for 90 days after stipulating to committing wrongdoing related to three cases. During his suspension period, his public law firm website touted he was available to provide a variety of legal services—including loan modifications. It did not include mention of his suspended status. A district attorney investigator posed as a client who needed advice on a mortgage problem. They spoke by phone for approximately 20 minutes, while Jones suggested potential legal solutions—including loan modifications and bankruptcy—making no mention of his suspended status.
In addition, while he was suspended, Jones entered into a fee agreement with another client, agreeing to provide loan modification services, again accepting an initial $3,000 as a “consultation fee,” and corresponding with the client’s loan provider on her behalf. He did not inform the client he was suspended at the time.
In aggravation, Jones committed multiple acts of misconduct and had been disciplined by the State Bar for professional misconduct twice previously.
In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation, submitted evidence of performing pro bono and community service work, and provided letters from 27 individuals representing both the legal and general communities—all of whom attested to his good moral character.
Michael Charles Maddux
State Bar No. 185434, San Bernardino (July 7, 2021)
Maddux was suspended from practicing law for 30 days and placed on probation for two years after he stipulated to committing two acts of professional misconduct: failing to perform legal service with competence and commingling personal and client funds in his client trust account.
In the underlying client case, Maddux was hired to help a client settle his mother’s probate estate. The client paid $750 in advanced costs by check. While Maddux directed his staff to deposit that check in his client trust account, the staff member responsible failed to do so.
Maddux subsequently filed a petition and other documents in the case, but failed to attach the client’s declaration or file it with the court as required. He later filed additional documentation in the case, but the client’s accompanying declaration was not signed as required. After the court directed Maddux to file a signed verification, he allowed a staff member to electronically affix the client’s signature and file the verification.
Maddux also committed wrongdoing by commingling his personal funds in his client trust account and paying business expenses from it.
In aggravation, Maddux committed multiple acts of misconduct and had a prior record of discipline.
In mitigation, he entered into a prefiling stipulation and submitted letters from eight individuals—all of whom were aware of the full extent of his misconduct and attested to his good character. He also expressed remorse for his wrongdoing, and hired a CPA to oversee management of his client trust account.
Ronald R. Roundy
State Bar No. 276879, Lincoln (July 7, 2021)
Roundy was suspended for 90 days and placed on probation for two years after he successfully completed the State Bar’s Alternative Discipline Program (ADP). He was given credit for the three months he had previously been on inactive enrollment.
He had earlier stipulated to committing numerous acts of professional misconduct. His wrongdoing included: one act involving moral turpitude; two counts each of failing to report court-ordered sanctions to the State Bar and failing to return unearned advanced fees; three counts each of failing to obey court orders, improperly withdrawing from employment, failing to keep clients reasonably informed of significant case developments, failing to perform legal services with competence, and failing to cooperate in the State Bar’s investigation of the wrongdoing alleged; and four counts of failing to update his official membership records with the State Bar.
In aggravation, Roundy had a prior record of discipline, committed multiple acts of misconduct, and failed to account for entrusted funds.
In mitigation, he successfully completed the ADP, so received the lower level of discipline set out in the standards.
John Toby Schreiber
State Bar No. 131947, Benicia (July 14, 2021)
Schreiber was suspended from practicing law for 45 days and placed on probation for one year.
He stipulated to committing one probation violation—failing to timely take and complete the State Bar’s Ethics School—which the court found was supported by the record in the case.
An additional four counts of professional misconduct that had been charged were dismissed for lack of clear and convincing evidence. Those counts, related to charges of unauthorized practice of law (UPL), were negated based on the State Bar’s own confused and confusing directives about complying with Minimum Continuing Legal Education obligations, both communicated by letter and posted on Schreiber’s State Bar Attorney Profile. The State Bar Court judge noted this resulted in the “bizarre situation” of charging a UPL violation stemming from an inactive status that was imposed retroactively without notice or explanation. The judge underscored: “To allow retroactively imposed inactive status to be a basis for discipline would result in grave injustice to attorneys, their clients, and to the administration of justice.”
In aggravation, Schreiber had a prior record of discipline.
In mitigation, he was allotted moderate weight for character testimony from nine individuals—several of whom appeared to be aware of the full extent of his misconduct—and for evidence of community service that was also used as a mitigating factor in his prior discipline case. Additional moderate mitigating weight was accorded due to the fact that the misconduct caused minimal harm to the administration of justice and no harm to either his clients or the public, as well as for cooperating with the State Bar for stipulating to facts that were easily proven.
George Aaron Shohet
State Bar No. 112697, Beverly Hills (July 7, 2021)
Shohet was suspended from the practice of law for 30 days and placed on probation for one year after successfully completing the State Bar’s Alternative Discipline Program (ADP).
He had earlier entered a plea of nolo contendere to one felony count of fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s motor vehicle while driving recklessly (Cal. Veh. Code Section 2800.2) and one misdemeanor count of driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% or more (Cal. Veh. Code Section 23152(b)).
Shohet was accepted into the ADP after submitting a statement to the court establishing a nexus between his mental health issue and the charges of which he was convicted. Approximately one year later, an additional notice of disciplinary charges was filed, alleging that Shohet had failed to report his felony complaint and conviction to the State Bar as required. The matters were consolidated, and the parties then agreed that adding the second case would not change the recommended level of discipline in the original case.
Shohet stipulated that he had willfully failed to report the felony and that while the facts and circumstances did not involve moral turpitude, they did involve other misconduct warranting discipline.
In aggravation, Shohet engaged in multiple acts of misconduct.
In mitigation, he had practiced law discipline-free for 31 years, demonstrated recognition of his wrongdoing, was experiencing extreme emotional and physical difficulties during the time of misconduct—and had successfully completed the ADP.
Julie Ngoc Nong, Burbank
State Bar No. 208013 (July 14, 2021)
Nong was placed on probation for one year after she stipulated to committing seven acts of professional misconduct related to a single client matter.
Her wrongdoing included: engaging in representation adverse to a former client and failing to preserve the confidences of a former client; two counts of breaching a duty to a former client: and three counts of failing to obtain a former client’s written consent before representation—acquiring an interest adverse to a former client.
Nong was retained to represent a client in a pending unlawful detainer action. About two years later, the client’s wife assaulted him with a wooden chair leg and was arrested and charged with felony assault, domestic violence, and elder abuse. Nong, who stated she felt sorry for the wife, who had limited English proficiency and limited financial resources, agreed to represent her pro bono in the criminal matter.
Several months later, Nong informed the district attorney that she had a conflict, as she had obtained documents in the course of the unlawful detainer action that contained negative information about the wife: the tenant alleged she had made unwelcome sexual advances. Nong was allowed to withdraw from representation, with a public defender appointed in her stead.
Nong’s original client then filed a dissolution of marriage action, and again, she agreed to represent the wife in that action. The court in that case eventually issued an order finding a conflict existed and ordered her relieved of representation.
Nong subsequently represented the wife pro bono in a third action alleging the former husband (Nong’s former client) had converted her wages.
In aggravation, Nong committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed an elderly, vulnerable client who had to expend money to have her disqualified.
In mitigation, she entered into a prefiling stipulation, had practiced law nearly 18 years discipline-free, expressed candor and cooperation during the State Bar’s investigation of the matter, and submitted evidence from nine individuals attesting to her good character, as well as evidence of performing volunteer civic and pro bono legal service.
Gregory Emerson Stubbs
State Bar No. 48758, Sonoma (July 14, 2021)
Stubbs was placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to earlier pleading nolo contendere to one count of driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher (Cal. Veh. Code Section 23152(b)) with an admission of a prior conviction for driving under the influence, as well as being involved in a hit and run collision (Cal. Veh. Code 20002(a)).
While driving on the highway, Stubbs veered and hit a signpost. A witness attempted to help him at the scene, offering a cell phone to Stubbs so he could call his wife; he then summoned a passerby to drive him home, leaving his car on the side of the highway. He did not call police to report the accident or the collision with the signpost, which he was unaware he had damaged.
Police responded to the scene and were able to ascertain Stubbs’ home address through his car license plate. Breath samples measured his blood alcohol concentration at .133% and .125%; a later blood test indicated a concentration of .15%.
The State Bar Court judge determined that the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident did not involve moral turpitude, but did involve other misconduct warranting professional discipline.
In mitigation, Stubbs entered into a pretrial stipulation, had practiced law approximately 45 years without a record of discipline, provided letters from five associates who attested to his good character, and submitted evidence of performing community and pro bono service. He was also allotted mitigating credit for completing rehabilitating treatment programs and having no additional convictions in the last four years.
— Barbara Kate Repa