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Three Attorneys Face Disciplinary Action for Failing to Protect Client Interest
PHOENIX - The Arizona Supreme Court has ordered suspensions for two attorneys and disbarment for another.
In the matter of Charna R. Johnson, the State Bar of Arizona initiated an investigation after finding probable cause that Johnson had lied under oath in a disciplinary hearing, claimed to communicate with the dead, and had inappropriate contacts with a client. After receiving a recommendation for a one-year suspension, the State Bar filed a Petition for Review requesting that Johnson be disbarred. Johnson filed a Cross-Petition for review. Both Petitions were denied. The Supreme Court ordered that she be suspended from the practice of law for one year, effective Feb. 8, 2011.
Johnson will be placed on probation for two years upon reinstatement with terms and conditions that will be established after a Member Assistance Program (MAP) evaluation. Johnson must also pay for all costs and proceedings in this matter to the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Supreme Court and the Disciplinary Clerk's office.
In the matter of Hector A. Montoya, the State Bar's investigation found that he mismanaged client trust accounts and was arrested on Aug. 13, 2004 in connection with a marijuana trafficking sting operation. He pled guilty in 2008 to the facilitation of money laundering in the second degree, and was suspended for the conduct underlying the conviction.
As stated in the Arizona Supreme Court's order, Montoya is suspended from the practice of law for thirty days, effective Mar. 8, 2011. In addition, Montoya will be placed on probation for two years upon reinstatement and shall submit to an evaluation and by the Director of LOMAP who shall make recommendations for his probationary period. Montoya must also pay for all costs and proceedings in this matter to the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Supreme Court and the Disciplinary Clerk's office.
In the matter of James M. Shinn, the State Bar of Arizona filed a formal complaint with the Disciplinary Commission of the Arizona Supreme Court that alleged he failed to comply with its investigation and violated several provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The violations included: failing to keep safe client's property, failing to return client's documents, failing to refund unused portions of advanced fees, failing to abide by client's decisions concerning objectives of representation, and failing to respond to a lawful demand for information by the State Bar, among others.
As stated in the Arizona Supreme Court's order, the Disciplinary Commission accepted the State Bar's recommendation of disbarment. The disbarment took effect on Feb. 9, 2011. Shinn must pay $2,500 in restitution to Morrill & Aronson, PLC and $9,103.30 to Larry Church within 90 days for this order. He must also pay all costs incurred by the State Bar in connection with his disciplinary proceedings.
About the State Bar
The State Bar of Arizona is a non-profit organization that operates under the supervision of the Arizona Supreme Court. The Bar includes approximately 16,000 active attorneys and provides education and development programs for the legal profession and the public. Since 1933 the Bar and its members have been committed to serving the public by making sure the voices of all people in Arizona are heard in our justice system.
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