This is the property of the Daily Journal Corporation and fully protected by copyright. It is made available only to Daily Journal subscribers for personal or collaborative purposes and may not be distributed, reproduced, modified, stored or transferred without written permission. Please click "Reprint" to order presentation-ready copies to distribute to clients or use in commercial marketing materials or for permission to post on a website. and copyright (showing year of publication) at the bottom.

June 2024

| Jun. 3, 2024

Discipline Report

Jun. 3, 2024

June 2024

Recent attorney disbarments, suspensions, probations and public reprovals in California.


Douglas Robert McClintock

State Bar #91615, Irvine (April 5, 2024)

McClintock was disbarred by default after he failed to respond to the notice of disciplinary charges filed against him, or to the default that was subsequently entered against him.

The State Bar Court determined he had received adequate notice and opportunity to participate and that he failed to have the default set aside or vacated within 90 days of the time it was entered.

The factual allegations in the charges were then deemed admitted, and McClintock was found culpable of all eight counts charged. His wrongdoing included: engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, representing two clients with potentially conflicting interests without their informed written consent, failing to promptly release a client file upon terminating representation, failing to promptly respond to reasonable client inquiries, failing to notify the State Bar of his address change as required, improperly withdrawing from representation, and failing to participate in the State Bar's investigation of the wrongdoing alleged. An additional count--practicing law while not licensed to do so--involved moral turpitude.

Hamid Safavi

State Bar #290252, Walnut Creek (April 5, 2024)

Safavi was disbarred by default after he did not participate, either in person or through counsel, in his disciplinary proceeding.

The State Bar Court found that all procedural requirements--including adequate notice--had been met in the case, and that there was an adequate factual basis for finding disciplinary misconduct. It also verified that Safavi did not move to have the default entered against him set aside or vacated.

He was found culpable of all five counts of professional misconduct with which he had been charged: failing to deposit funds in a client trust account, failing to inform his client of reasonable case developments, failing to promptly distribute client funds, failing to cooperate in the State Bar's investigation of the wrongdoing alleged, and misappropriating client funds--an act involving moral turpitude.

Safavi had one prior record of discipline at the time he was disbarred.


Ernest Joseph Franceschi, Jr.

State Bar #112893, Santa Monica (April 13, 2024)

Franceschi was suspended from the practice of law for nine months and placed on probation for two years after he stipulated to pleading nolo contendere to willfully failing to file a return with the intent to evade taxes (Cal. Rev. & Tax. Code § 19706). He had initially been charged with committing 18 felony counts of the offense, but entered a plea of guilty to one count, which was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.

He was also found culpable of violating a court order and of failing to pay court-ordered sanctions in a client case.
Facts related to the tax evasion matter: Franceschi filed income tax returns over a seven-year period that significantly underreported his personal income. And for four of those years, he reported no income and paid no taxes while serving as CEO and CFO of his law corporation. In all, his misconduct resulted in $59,428 in tax deficiencies. He eventually paid $150,000 in restitution for unpaid taxes and related penalties.

In the client matter, Franceschi was ordered not to directly address opposing counsel due to personal animosity between the two of them. He disregarded the order, however, and was sanctioned $500, which he failed to pay.
In mitigation, Franceschi entered into a pretrial stipulation and had practiced law approximately 26 years without a record of professional misconduct.

In aggravation, he engaged in a pattern of misconduct by failing to comply with tax laws over a seven-year period--wrongdoing that significantly harmed the public. He was also assigned aggravating weight for demonstrating indifference through his attitude and failure to resolve his tax dispute.

Sharron S.K. Williams Gelobter

State Bar #226936, Oakland (April 5, 2024)

Gelobter was suspended for two years (with credit given for a prior inactive enrollment period) and placed on probation for three years after she successfully completed all conditions imposed while participating in the State Bar Court's Alternative Discipline Program (ADP).

Gelobter had submitted a statement and letter from her therapist establishing a nexus between her mental health issues and the charges against her. She also participated in the Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP), entering a monitoring plan with the program.

While Gelobter was participating in LAP, a second notice of disciplinary charges was filed against her; that case was consolidated with a prior one. She stipulated to culpability on all counts charged. In one case, that included engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, failing to update her address of record with the State Bar, and failing to comply with disciplinary probation conditions.

The other charge involved misconduct related to a single client matter. There, her wrongdoing included: collecting an illegal fee, failing to refund unearned advanced fees, improperly withdrawing from employment, failing to respond to reasonable status inquiries, and failing to perform legal services with competence, as well as one count involving moral turpitude: actually practicing law when she was not entitled to do so.

In aggravation, Gelobter had two prior records of discipline, engaged in multiple acts of misconduct involving a highly vulnerable person, and failed to make restitution.

In mitigation, she entered into a pretrial stipulation, submitted evidence of severe financial stress and family problems, and offered evidence of individuals vouching for her good character and of performing pro bono work. In the instant case, the State Bar Court also noted Gelobter's completion of ADP as an additional mitigating circumstance.

Because Gelobter successfully complete ADP, the State Bar Court recommended the lower-end range of discipline according to the terms of the negotiated contract: two years of actual suspension and three years of probation with conditions.

Michael Lee Lindley

State Bar #289229, Long Beach (April 13, 2024)

Lindley was suspended from practicing law for 30 days and placed on probation for one year after he failed to comply with the requirements imposed in the State Bar Court's Alternative Discipline Program (ADP).

Lindley had earlier stipulated to pleading no contest to driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% or more (Cal. Veh. Code § 23152(b)); he also admitted to a previous conviction for the same offense.

He had been accepted into the ADP after presenting evidence establishing a nexus between his alcoholism and the criminal conviction in the instant matter, in addition to submitting a letter from his treating addiction psychiatrist. He also submitted a monitoring plan he entered into with the Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP).

He was terminated from the ADP after withdrawing from the LAP.

As a result, the State Bar Court recommended imposing the higher end of discipline for the underlying offense, which included 30 days of actual suspension.

James Mills

State Bar #203783, Oakland (April 13, 2024)

Mills was suspended from the practice of law for six months and placed on probation for two years after he stipulated to committing 24 acts of professional misconduct related to five separate client matters.

His wrongdoing included: failing to maintain only just legal actions, failing to return unearned advanced fees, and failing to report court-imposed sanctions to the State Bar; two counts of failing to cooperate in the State Bar's investigation of the wrongdoing alleged; three counts each of violating court orders; failing to perform legal services with competence; failing to represent clients diligently; failing to respond to reasonable client inquiries, and improperly withdrawing from employment; and four counts of failing to keep clients reasonably informed of significant case developments.

While the pattern of Mills' misconduct was basically similar in all the client cases, the State Bar Court noted simply that the "gravamen" was "his repeated failures to perform legal services competently and diligently" over a five-year period. It also underscored that three of the clients suffered substantial harm in that their cases were ultimately dismissed, and they were prevented from seeking other counsel and preserving their rights to pursue their claims. In one of the cases involving bankruptcy claims, Mills' mishandling of the filings resulted in unnecessary delay and litigation.

In aggravation, Mills committed multiple acts of misconduct that significantly harmed his clients and the administration of justice.

In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation, had practiced law discipline-free for approximately 18 years, and suffered extreme family difficulties during the time of the misconduct due to his parents' illnesses and his own impending divorce.

Richard Edward Quintilone, II

State Bar #200995, Lake Forest (April 5, 2024)

Quintilone was suspended from practicing law for 60 days and placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to being convicted of three criminal offenses in three separate cases.

He pled nolo contendere to battering a spouse (Cal. Penal Code § 243(e), pled guilty to driving with a blood alcohol content in excess of .08%--with admitted special allegations related to a prior conviction and high blood alcohol content, and also pled guilty to recklessly causing a fire (Cal. Penal Code § 452(b)).

In the domestic violence case, Quintilone was on a moored boat with his wife, when he assaulted her. When a witness intervened, Quintilone jumped into the water and swam away. Sheriff's deputies located him in the water near another moored boat and placed him under arrest. The State Bar Court noted that Quintilone "performed poorly" while on probation that had been ordered in the matter--failing to appear for at least three probation review hearings, and requiring violation hearings--resulting in an order of electronic alcohol monitoring.

About three years after that offense, a highway patrol officer observed that while driving, Quintilone drifted in and out of his lanes. After failing to perform a series of field sobriety tests, Quintilone was arrested and underwent a chemical blood test, which indicated a blood alcohol content of .14%, as well as 10.4 ng/ml of cocaine.

And in the third matter, which occurred another three years later, Quintilone became intoxicated while drinking tequila in his front yard. He told two neighbors that he intended to burn another individual's car that was parked nearby--and threw a boat propeller through the car's windshield. He then caused a fire to start in the upstairs bathroom of his house; as the home burst into flames, neighbors in nearby residences were evacuated. Quintilone was arrested a short time later, after entering a neighbor's house--uninvited.

In aggravation, Quintilone had a prior record of discipline, committed multiple acts of wrongdoing addressed in the instant matter, and harmed a "highly vulnerable victim," who could reasonably expect safety and stability due to their intimate relationship.

In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation and suffered from previously undiagnosed disorders that his treating clinical psychologist testified causally contributed to all three convictions.

Elana Thibault

State Bar #302572, Oakland (April 11, 2024)

Thibault was suspended for 30 days and placed on probation for one year after an appeal affirming that recommendation of discipline, as well as affirming the hearing judge's findings of culpability and of aggravating and mitigating circumstances.

Thibault was found culpable of failing to pay court-imposed sanctions in a timely manner, failing to report those sanctions to the State Bar as required, and engaging in legal representation adverse to a former client.

Shortly after being admitted to practice, Thibault was employed by an individual who was not licensed to practice law in California, but offered a "wide array of legal matters throughout the United States and India." Thibault was assigned to represent a client seeking help with issues related to a marital dissolution. She was quickly informed by opposing counsel of a conflict of interest, since the client's husband had previously been represented by Thibault's employer in the same dissolution matter.

She withdrew from representation at that time, but a couple years later, while working as a sole practitioner, substituted in to represent the husband in the dissolution. Though she contacted the State Bar Ethics hotline before doing so, she did not seek the written consent from the wife--who had been a client of Thibault's former employer; the client had believed the employer was legally licensed.

Opposing counsel again objected to the representation, claiming Thibault had a conflict of interest. At a disqualification hearing, Thibault attempted to introduce two documents into evidence containing confidential information retrieved from her former employer's database that were related to the wife's representation by Thibault's former employer 10 years earlier. The judge made several findings--and ordered Thibault disqualified from representing the client, sanctioning her $5,000. The court of appeal found Thibault's challenge of the sanctions order unappealable; the California Supreme Court denied review of the case.

She eventually paid the sanctions, more than three years after learning of them, and eight months after all appeals were exhausted.

In aggravation, Thibault was given limited weight for committing multiple acts of misconduct, as well as moderate weight for demonstrating a lack of insight and understanding of her ethical responsibilities.

In mitigation, she was allotted nominal weight for four declarations of her good character--all of which came from former clients rather than a range from the legal and general communities. She was also given nominal weight for performing pro bono work, which appeared to be confined to representing a single client and was not corroborated.

The opinion in the instant case began with an admonition: "This case underscores the need for attorneys to understand the broad scope of our conflicts of interest rules, which require the avoidance of adverse interests, and it demonstrates the perils that can result when an attorney is not careful in following the requirements of these rules."


Randall Craig Single

State Bar # 137599, San Francisco (April 13, 2024)

Single was placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to earlier pleading no contest to one count of driving with a blood alcohol content greater than .08% (Cal. Veh. Code § 23152(b)), with an admitted prior conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol. At the time of the incident, his blood alcohol content was tested at .18%--more than twice the legal limit.

The State bar Court determined that the facts and circumstances surrounding the violation did not involve moral turpitude, but did involve other misconduct warranting professional discipline.

In aggravation, Single had a prior record of discipline.

In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation and submitted reference statements from nine individuals taken from the legal and general communities, all of whom were aware of the full extent of the wrongdoing involved--and all of whom vouched for his good character.

--Barbara Kate Repa


For reprint rights or to order a copy of your photo:

Email for prices.
Direct dial: 949-702-5390

Send a letter to the editor: