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In the Matter of

March 6, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF EUGENE WELLINGTON MATTHEWS, A MEMBER OF THE STATE BAR, NO. 161396.


PUBLIC MATTER - NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION AND ORDER

This is the third disciplinary proceeding for Eugene Wellington Matthews, who is culpable of multiple probation violations. The hearing judge found that these repeated violations occurred "during a time when [Matthews] was experiencing painful personal and psychological problems and that he has since made significant efforts to comply with his probation conditions

." The hearing judge thus concluded that disbarrment was unwarranted, and instead he recommended that Matthews be actually suspended for three years and until he proves his rehabilitation, fitness to practice, and ability as set forth in the Rules of Procedure of the State

Bar, title IV, Standards for Attorney Sanctions for Professional Misconduct, standard 1.4(c)(ii).*fn1 Since both parties stipulated to Matthews's culpability, the only issue before us is the level of discipline. The State Bar's Office of the Chief Trial Counsel (State Bar) argues that disbarrment is the appropriate discipline. Matthews asks that we uphold the hearing judge's recommendation.

Having independently reviewed the record (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.12), we find insufficient evidence that Matthews's emotional difficulties were directly responsible for his misconduct and that he no longer suffers from those difficulties. Matthews's avoidance of his professional and ethical responsibilities appears to be chronic, if not habitual. Accordingly, we find that further probation and suspension would be inadequate to prevent him from committing future misconduct, and Matthews therefore poses a threat to the public and the legal profession. We conclude that the presumptive discipline of disbarrment called for by standard 1.7(b), which applies to attorneys with two or more prior disciplines, is appropriate and necessary. Matthews should be disbarred and required to establish his rehabilitation in a reinstatement proceeding.

I. BACKGROUND

Matthews was admitted to practice law in California on December 9, 1992. He has two prior records of discipline arising from serious misconduct he committed in a total of 14 client matters between February 2004 and October 2011. In the instant case, Matthews stipulated to numerous violations of his probation conditions, which the Supreme Court ordered on May 26, 2010, in his first disciplinary proceeding. Trial occurred on March 12, 2012. The hearing judge found Matthews culpable of all of the charged probation violations.

II. CULPABILITY

We conclude there is clear and convincing evidence that Matthews violated Business and Professions Code section 6068, subdivision (k)*fn2 because he failed to:

(1) timely file quarterly probation reports due April 10 and July 10, 2011;

(2) timely file certifications from a certified public accountant (CPA) confirming that he complied with the State Bar's Trust Account Record Keeping Standards due October 10, 2010, January 10, April 10, and July 10, 2011;

(3) timely file psychiatric/psychological treatment reports due April 10, and July 10, 2011;

(4) file proof of restitution payments after his October 10, 2010 quarterly report;

(5) file proof of membership with the State Bar's Law Practice Management and Technology Section for the second year of probation;

(6) file a law office management plan by August 24, 2010;

(7) file proof that he completed specified continuing legal education no ...


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