Craig Lee Henderson
State Bar #194953, Chico (January 27, 2023)
Henderson was disbarred by default after he failed to participate in his disciplinary proceeding, either in person or through counsel. The State Bar Court was satisfied that all legal prerequisites had been satisfied--including adequate notice as demonstrated by the Office of Chief Trial Counsel's evidence of reasonable diligence in attempts to locate and communicate with him.
Henderson did not move to have the default subsequently entered against him set aside or vacated, and he was then found culpable of both counts of professional misconduct with which he had been charged: failing to comply with conditions imposed in an earlier disciplinary probation and failing to update his records address with the State Bar as required.
The specifics of the probationary violation included failing to schedule and participate in an initial meeting with the Office of Probation, failing to read the Rules of Professional Conduct and State Bar Act and submitting a declaration attesting to it, and failing to submit quarterly written reports.
At the time he was disbarred, Henderson had two previous records of being disciplined by the State Bar for professional misconduct.
Hooman Bruce Ighani
State Bar #305182, Sherman Oaks (January 27, 2023)
Ighani was disbarred by default after failing to appear at the trial of the misconduct charges filed against him--despite having actual notice of the proceeding and agreeing to the scheduled trial date. He moved to set aside the default then entered against him, but the court denied the relief. Ighani did not respond to the subsequent petition for disbarment.
He was found culpable of all 14 counts of professional misconduct charged, which involved performance issues in four separate client matters.
His wrongdoing included: commingling personal and client funds in a trust account and failing to return unearned advanced fees; two counts each of failing to report court-ordered sanctions to the State Bar and disobeying court orders; three counts of failing to perform legal services with competence; and five counts of failing to cooperate in the State Bar's investigations of the wrongdoing alleged.
At the time Ighani was disbarred, there were approximately 72 other investigations pending against him.
Howard Miles Lang
State Bar #189826, Ventura (January 27, 2023)
Lang was disbarred by default after he failed to participate, either in person or through counsel, in the proceedings in which he was charged with 20 disciplinary violations related to four client matters. The State Bar Court determined he had been given adequate legal notice of the proceedings. He did not respond to the petition for disbarment, or did he move to have the default entered against him set aside or vacated.
In keeping with the controlling procedural rules, the factual allegations in the notice of disciplinary charges--in this case, an amended notice--were deemed admitted and no further proof was required to establish their truth.
Lang was found culpable of all 20 counts charged. His wrongdoing included: failing to respond to reasonable client inquiries, failing to keep a client reasonably informed of significant case developments, failing to act with reasonable diligence, and failing to cooperate in the State Bar's investigation of the wrongdoing alleged; two counts of failing to maintain complete records of client funds; four counts of commingling personal and client funds, and five counts each of failing to maintain client funds in a trust account, and misappropriating client funds--misconduct involving moral turpitude.
State Bar #146163, Sacramento (January 27, 2023)
In a consolidated proceeding, Lanphier was disbarred after being found culpable of numerous ethical violations arising in four client matters, as well as a failure to cooperate in State Bar investigations related to each of the client cases.
His other misconduct included: failing to respond to reasonable client inquiries, failing to render an accounting of client funds, failing to release a client's file after being requested to do so, and failing to refund unearned advanced fees, as well as multiple counts each of failing to perform legal services with competence, failing to act with reasonable diligence in representing clients, and failing to communicate significant case developments to clients.
The client matter in which the court found the most culpability also illustrates some of the wrongdoing that occurred in the other cases at issue. In that case, a client retained Lanphier's firm to handle an immigration issue and to seek relief from a criminal conviction. He met with an associate at the firm who had been hired to handle bankruptcy and immigration matters, though the associate had no prior experience in immigration--and Lanphier provided no training or real oversight. Much of the associate's shoddy and inept work was discovered after he later abruptly left the firm. The client attempted to contact the firm over a two-year period, but met with no success. The next year--four years after the firm was initially retained--the client spoke three times with Lanphier, who gave conflicting information about the ease and difficulty of pursuing the case and refused to refund the client half the fees paid, as he requested.
In aggravation, Lanphier had been disciplined for professional misconduct twice previously, committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that substantially harmed his clients--several of whom were highly vulnerable due to uncertain immigration status, demonstrated a lack of candor in dealings with the court, and showed indifference to the misconduct at issue by failing to remedy his former associate's mishandling of numerous cases.
In recommending disbarment, the court noted that Lanphier's transgressions were "dismayingly consistent." It underscored that "the totality of Lanphier's previous disciplines and the current matter demonstrate a history of inattention to clients' needs and unwillingness to take corrective measures." And finally, it emphasized: "Prior discipline has not altered his misconduct in a meaningful way, diminishing the effectiveness of probation or suspension."
Charles Thomas Marshall
State Bar #176091, San Diego (January 27, 2023)
Marshall was disbarred.
In an initial disciplinary matter, he was charged with one count of failing to report court-imposed sanctions and 25 counts of failing to maintain respect due to the court related to court orders directed at him personally as a defendant in civil litigation.
At a consolidated trial, the Office of Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar moved to dismiss two of the 25 counts, and court dismissed 22 of the other counts due to insufficient evidence. He was found culpable of one count each of failing to maintain respect due to courts and failing to report sanctions.
Marshall initially raised objections to the State Bar Court's jurisdiction of the matter, which it rejected outright--emphasizing that "the State Bar Court functions as an adjudicative arm of the Supreme Court in determining disciplinary proceedings" and that the court's subject matter jurisdiction "is not limited to the subject of attorney misconduct committed in the course of practicing law."
The impetus for the instant action was a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Marshall and others, seeking to enjoin them from providing mortgage assistance relief services to consumers. The court granted a related restraining order and later a stipulated permanent injunction prohibiting the defendants from advertising, promoting, and selling such services and freezing assets they held or controlled; it also appointed a receiver in the matter.
Despite the injunction and freeze, however, Marshall made numerous transfers, deposits, and disbursements from a personal bank account.
The count alleging failure to maintain respect due to the courts was based on Marshall's cash payment of $24,500 to his criminal attorney while the temporary restraining order was in effect. The State Bar Court judge found that the payment "thwarted the fundamental purpose of the asset freeze order in the TRO, which was to preserve any then-available funds pending the determination of liability," and "constituted a serious and fundamental obstruction of the judicial system."
As for the count alleging Marshall's failure to report judicial sanctions, the court reiterated the mandate requiring attorneys to report such sanctions to the State Bar "in writing, within 30 days of the time the attorney has knowledge of such sanctions." While Marshall did not dispute that he knew of the sanctions and the requirement to report them, he argued that a fax he sent to the State Bar affirming the court's final judgment and order satisfied his reporting duties. The State Bar Court noted, however, that the self-report made no mention of the sanctions--and was sent more than two years after they were initially imposed.
In aggravation, Marshall had three prior records of discipline, and demonstrated indifference to his wrongdoing by continuing collateral attacks on the underlying order and failing to return any funds he dissipated improperly.
In mitigation, he was allotted limited weight for evidence offered by three character witnesses who did not represent a broad range in the community and who did not demonstrate a full awareness of the misconduct at issue.
Steven Michael Matlak
Matlak was summarily disbarred.
He earlier pled guilty and was convicted of one count of possession and control of child pornography (Cal. Penal Code § 311.11(a)), and three counts each of continuous sexual abuse of a child under age 14 (Cal. Penal Code § 288.5(a)) and committing lewd or lascivious acts with a minor under age 14 (Cal. Penal Code § 288(a)).
He was sentenced to serve 40 years in state prison, and upon receiving evidence of finality of his convictions--all felonies involving moral turpitude--the State Bar Review Department recommended disbarment.
James Russell Nanko
State Bar #120116, Huntington Beach (January 27, 2023)
Nanko was disbarred by default. The State Bar Court determined that all elements for disbarment had been satisfied: proper service of the notice of hearing, reasonable diligence in notifying Nanko of the proceedings before a default was entered, proper entry of the default--and a satisfactory factual basis for imposing professional discipline.
Nanko did not participate in the proceeding, nor did he move to have the default entered against him set aside or vacated--satisfying another element for imposing disbarment by default.
In the underlying matter, officers were summoned to investigate a traffic collision involving a single car that had hit a traffic signal light. They found Nanko in the driver's seat of his damaged vehicle at the scene, noting that his speech was "slow and slurred;" he admitted to taking several medications before driving. A blood test revealed no alcohol in his system, but showed positive for five different drugs.
Nanko eventually entered a guilty plea to a charge of driving under the influence of drugs with one prior offense (Cal. Veh. Code § 23152(e))--a misdemeanor. The prior conviction was also for driving under the influence (Cal. Veh. Code § 23152(a)).
Edward Stephen Orchon
State Bar #67039, Winnetka (January 27, 2023)
Orchon was disbarred by default after he failed to participate in the proceeding in which he was charged with failing to comply with conditions attached to a disciplinary probation imposed earlier.
The State Bar Court found that all procedural requirements--including adequate notice--had been met in the matter, and that there was an adequate factual basis for disciplinary misconduct. Before the default order was entered against him, Orchon spoke with the State Bar's Office of Chief Trial Counsel, communicating that "he was done with the law" and would not be responding to the charges against him. He did not move to have that default then entered set aside or vacated.
He was found culpable of violating the probationary conditions as charged. Specifically, he failed to schedule and participate in an initial meeting with the Office of Probation, failed to provide a declaration signifying he had read the California Rules of Professional Conduct and Business and Professions Code sections as mandated, and failed to submit two written quarterly reports.
Orchon had one prior record of discipline and there were additional disciplinary investigations pending against him at the time he was disbarred.
Janis Michelle Paxton-Bucknor
State Bar #211509, Los Angeles (January 27, 2023)
Paxton-Bucknor was summarily disbarred after the State Bar Court received evidence that her criminal convictions had become final.
She had earlier pled guilty to one count of theft, embezzlement, and intentional misapplication of funds from an organization receiving federal funds (18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(A)) and an additional count of willfully attempting to evade or defeat taxes (26 U.S.C. § 7201).
Both offenses are felonies, and the theft conviction also involves moral turpitude--qualifying Paxton-Bucknor's transgressions for summary disbarment.
Jacob Arash Shahbaz
State Bar #204669, Encino (January 27, 2023)
Shahbaz was disbarred after being found culpable of committing 22 counts of professional misconduct related to four separate client matters.
His misconduct included: failing to render an accounting of client funds; two counts of failing to distribute funds to client lienholders; five counts of failing to maintain complete records of client funds; and eight counts of failing to maintain client funds in trust. He was also culpable of numerous counts involving moral turpitude: two counts of making material misrepresentations to State Bar investigators, and four counts of misappropriating client funds.
In one of the underlying matters, Shahbaz represented a client with a personal injury claim, ultimately settling the matter for $32,000: $15,000 from one source and $17,000 from another. After depositing each of the checks in his client trust account, and before paying the lienholders or the client, Shahbaz caused the balance in the account to drop to impermissible levels--amounting to misappropriation of the client's funds.
In the second matter, also involving cases alleging personal injuries along with property damage claims, Shahbaz obtained settlements from two insurers for three separate clients who had been injured in an auto accident. As in the first case, Shahbaz deposited settlement checks into his client trust account, then caused the balance to dip to impermissibly low levels. In addition, he attempted negotiations with the medical lienholders to reduce the amounts owed. After a State Bar complaint was filed about his handling of the case, Shahbaz presented investigators with numerous checks purportedly issued from his trust account to satisfy liens; the checks, as well as corresponding client ledgers, were found to have been fabricated. Shahbaz at first denied knowledge of the fraudulent checks, then explained that they were preprinted "aspirational" payments--a claim the hearing judge found lacked credibility.
In the course of the investigation, Shahbaz's office also emailed fabricated letters from all three clients purportedly requesting that their complaints against him should be withdrawn.
In aggravation, Shahbaz committed multiple acts of wrongdoing and demonstrated a lack of insight into his misconduct by attempting to avoid responsibility and shifting blame.
In mitigation, he was allotted moderate weight for evidence from five character witnesses--four of whom were taken from the legal community. He was also given limited weight for practicing law for 18 years discipline-free without establishing the misconduct was not likely to recur, for admitting easily proven facts, for evidence of performing pro bono work and community service based on his own uncorroborated testimony, and for emotional difficulties that exacerbated a bipolar disorder.
In recommending disbarment, the State Bar Court judge underscored: "Honesty and proper handling of client funds are two of the most important requirements attorneys must possess. This case reflects serious deficiencies in both traits, and clearly exhibits the consequences of an attorney's failure to comply with these fundamental obligations."
Allan Merle Tabor
State Bar #52846, Palm Springs (January 27, 2023)
Tabor was disbarred after being found culpable of three counts of professional misconduct--all related to the mishandling of his client trust account (CTA). Specifically, his wrongdoing included 10 acts of commingling personal funds in his client trust account, 82 instances of paying personal expenses from funds in his client trust account, and issuing a check from the account when there were insufficient funds in it to cover the check amount--an act involving moral turpitude.
Tabor stipulated or testified to the incriminating facts, but argued at trial that his misuse of his client trust account amounted to "poor judgment" as opposed to professional misconduct. He testified that during the time of the instant misconduct, he was suspended from practicing law due to an earlier disciplinary matter, so had no clients--rendering the account a client trust account "only in name." He also emphasized that he had crossed out "attorney at law" on some of the checks to avoid the impression that he was eligible to practice. He also testified that he failed to verify the account balance before issuing the check with insufficient funds because he "had no time to verify every transaction."
In aggravation, Tabor committed multiple acts of misconduct, demonstrated a lack of insight into his wrongdoing by showing a lack of understanding of his ethical obligations, and had two prior records of misconduct--both involving client trust account violations.
In mitigation, he was allotted moderate weight for cooperating in the disciplinary proceeding by offering to stipulate to all exhibits offered and entering into an oral stipulation of the underlying facts at trial.
In recommending disbarment, the court emphasized the need to protect the public from the recurring misconduct, noting: "Despite having completed State Bar CTA School and Ethics School as conditions of his active disciplinary probation, Tabor has continued to misuse his CTA as a personal banking account."
Alexander Hansen Verbeck
State Bar #295886, Berkeley (January 27, 2023)
Verbeck was suspended from practicing law for 60 days and placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to committing 12 acts of professional misconduct related to three distinct client matters.
He was culpable of: violating a court order, failing to provide an accounting of funds held for a client, and failing to promptly refund unearned advanced fees; two counts of failing to cooperate in the State Bar's investigation of the wrongdoing alleged; and five counts of failing to perform legal services with competence. He also committed two counts of professional misconduct involving moral turpitude: misappropriating client funds and misrepresenting to a client that he had filed a complaint in his case when he had not.
In one case, Verbeck was hired to represent a client in a marital dissolution matter. He filed the petition in the wrong venue however, then failed to appear at the hearings on the motion to change venues. The client eventually terminated his services.
The second client matter involved a civil suit and an unlawful detainer action. Though Verbeck prepared and emailed a signed copy of the civil suit complaint to the client and accepted $425 as a direct expense for filing it, he never did so. He also failed to appear at the related settlement conference and trial in the matter; as a result, a judgment was entered against the client.
And in the third matter, Verbeck represented a client in a palimony case--accepting $4,500 in advanced fees. After that, however, he failed to file the court-requested case management conference statement, failed to appear at the scheduled case management conference, failed to file an amended complaint--though he represented to the client that he had done so, and failed to make a timely request for discovery in the case.
In aggravation, Verbeck committed multiple acts of misconduct that significantly harmed one of his clients, as a judgment was entered against her.
In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation, submitted letters from six individuals who attested to his good character, and was suffering from emotional difficulties during the time of the misconduct.
Kalab Andrew Honey
State Bar #249645, Newport Beach (January 27, 2023)
Honey was placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to being convicted of two misdemeanors: driving under the influence (Cal. Veh. Code § 23152(a)) and possessing a weapon in a public building (Cal. Penal Code § 171b(a)).
The offenses occurred in separate incidents.
In a consolidated proceeding, the Hearing Department of the State Bar Court was asked to determine whether the facts and circumstances surrounding the convictions involved moral turpitude. The finding was that no moral turpitude was involved in either offense, but the misconduct at issue did warrant professional discipline.
In the DUI incident, Honey was arrested by two officers who observed him speeding and "traveling in a concerning manner" while driving. He was unable to perform the field sobriety tests at the scene. At the time of his arrest, Honey was on criminal probation for a previous felony (battery causing serious bodily injury--Cal. Penal Code § 243(D)) he had committed before being admitted to the California Bar.
In the second incident, Honey was arrested after a sheriff's deputy identified a semi-automatic handgun and loaded magazine concealed within his briefcase when he attempted to enter a courthouse. He did not have a permit or other authorization to carry a concealed weapon.
In mitigation, Honey entered into a pretrial stipulation and presented declarations from seven individuals taken from a range in the legal and general communities who were fully aware of his misconduct, but attested to his good character.
Jackie Rose Kruger
State Bar #231085, Beverly Hills (January 27, 2023)
Kruger was placed on probation for one year after she stipulated to committing two acts of professional misconduct related to wrongdoing during a court proceeding.
While representing a client in a wrongful termination matter, Kruger used an iPhone application to record both an open court hearing and an in-chambers conversation. The recording was conducted without court permission and in contravention of the court's general order specifically prohibiting recording or activating a recorder in the courtroom or courthouse in which business is conducted.
When the court initially questioned Kruger about recording the in-chambers conversation, she said she did so "completely in error and not on purpose." Regarding the unauthorized recording of the open court hearing, she explained that it was "for the purpose of note-taking."
The court ordered her to delete the recording of the in-chambers conversation. It then set an order to show cause hearing regarding potential sanctions for both unauthorized recordings. Prior to the hearing date, Kruger submitted a sworn declaration stating that she accidentally recorded the open court hearing and was unable to verify if she had actually recorded the in-chambers conversation because she had deleted it in compliance with the court's order. Both statements contradicted her earlier representations to the court.
Kruger was ultimately sanctioned $1,000 for the unlawful recordings, which she paid and reported to the State Bar nearly nine months later.
In aggravation, Kruger demonstrated a lack of appreciation for the significance of her misconduct by making inconsistent explanations of it to the court.
In mitigation, she entered into a prefiling stipulation, had practiced law discipline-free for 13 years before the misconduct at issue, and suffered physical and emotional difficulties established by expert testimony to be related to the misconduct. She was allotted limited weight for good character letters from 16 individuals--only one of whom included language indicating the author knew the full extent of the present misconduct.
Nadia Maria Lockyer
State Bar #192536, Seal Beach (January 27, 2023)
Lockyer was placed on probation for two years after successfully completing the State Bar Court's Alternative Discipline Program (ADP).
The present proceeding involved two consolidated conviction referral orders: one for assault (Cal. Penal Code § 240 and two counts of child abuse and endangerment (Cal. Penal Code §b273a(a)); the other for convictions of driving under the influence of alcohol with an admitted allegation of driving with a blood alcohol content of .20% or more (Cal. Veh. Code §23152(a)) and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% or more (Cal. Veh. Code § 23152(b)).
Lockyer stipulated that the facts and circumstances surrounding the violations--all misdemeanors--did not involve moral turpitude, but did involve other misconduct warranting professional discipline.
In the underlying matters, Lockyer pled guilty to the DUI-related charges following her arrest after causing a non-injury vehicle collision. The other conviction occurred while she was still on criminal probation, and after she was arrested when found heavily intoxicated while allegedly caring for her two 2-year-olds who had wandered away from home and were found near a major roadway. She bit one of the police officers on the arm during the investigation of that incident.
Lockyer sought to participate in the ADP, and was accepted into the program after establishing a nexus between her substance abuse issues and the misconduct at issue. The court's Confidential Statement of Alternative Dispositions and Orders, to which Lockyer agreed, set out the dispositions involved if she either completed or failed to complete the ADP. She was accepted into the ADP, and the court granted a motion allowing her to graduate early, finding she had successfully completed the program. The recommended discipline of two years of probation with conditions was then imposed.
Paul Emery Quade
State Bar #183296, Reno, Nevada (January 27, 2023)
Quade was placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
Less than three weeks after he voluntarily went on non-disciplinary inactive status with his State Bar membership, Quade substituted in as defense counsel for a criminal defendant in Nevada. About nine months later, after becoming aware of his continuing inactive status, Quade began the process of reinstating his status to active.
However, before his active status was reinstated, Quade continued to represent the client--appearing as counsel of record, negotiating extensions of time for hearings, and conducting a hearing in the case.
In mitigation, Quade entered into a pretrial stipulation, had practiced law for approximately 23 years without a record of discipline, submitted evidence from six individuals taken from both the legal and general communities--all of whom attested to his good character, and also presented evidence of performing substantial community service.
State Bar # 232811, Los Angeles (January 27, 2023)
Song was placed on probation for two years after successfully completing the State Bar's Alternative Discipline Program (ADP).
He had earlier been convicted of one count of reckless driving (Cal. Veh. Code § 23103) and subsequently submitted a statement to the court establishing a nexus between his alcoholism and the criminal misdemeanor conviction in the matter. He was then accepted for participation in the ADP.
In the underlying incident, Song was observed driving erratically on the freeway--stopping his vehicle in moving traffic, crossing lanes and accelerating, nearly colliding with other vehicles. After several failed attempts, a highway patrol officer succeeded in getting Song to pull over to the side of the highway; he declined to perform a series of field sobriety tests at the scene or to take a breath test after being transported to the police station.
The State Bar Court determined that the misconduct at issue did not involve moral turpitude but did involve other misconduct warranting professional discipline,
In aggravation, Song had a prior record of discipline.
In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation.
The order of probation--the lower level of discipline available--was imposed after Song presented evidence of successfully completing the ADP.
Viterbo Llopis Valera
State Bar #214004, Los Angeles (January 27, 2023)
Valera was placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to committing four acts of professional misconduct related to a single client matter.
He admitted to being culpable of: failing to perform legal services with competence, failing to respond to reasonable client inquiries, failing to inform his client of significant case developments, and violating a court order.
Valera was engaged to represent a client pursuing claims against an insurance company, alleging wrongful cancellation of a policy. He filed the lawsuit, but then failed to respond to opposing counsel's requests to produce documents and to answer special interrogatories or to appear at a case management conference in the case. At a subsequent hearing on opposing counsel's motion to compel, the court sanctioned Valera and his client $840 for the failure to respond. It later issued additional sanctions for failing to respond to a request for admissions and a second set of interrogatories. Valera had not informed the client of the hearing dates set or motions to compel. After he failed to respond to a motion for summary judgment or to appear at a trial status conference, the court dismissed the case.
After the client learned of the dismissal, he attempted to contact Valera, requesting an explanation. Valera did not respond, and paid the sanctions due only after learning of the State Bar's pending investigation into the matter.
In aggravation, Valera engaged in multiple acts of misconduct that significantly harmed his client.
In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation, had practiced law discipline-free for approximately 15 years, provided character references from nine individuals who were aware of the misconduct alleged, and experienced significant family problems during the period of misconduct at issue related to the poor health of one of his minor children.
--Barbara Kate Repa