FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 18, 2013
Contact: Rick DeBruhl, Chief Communications Officer
Phone: 602.340.7335, Mobile: 602.513.6385
Four-year Suspension Ordered for Phoenix Attorney Jane O. Ross
PHOENIX – March 18, 2013 – Attorney Jane O. Ross of Phoenix has been suspended from the practice of law for violating the Rules of Professional Conduct, resulting from an investigation conducted by the State Bar of Arizona.
After a four-day trial, the three-member hearing panel led by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Arizona Supreme Court ordered that Jane O. Ross be suspended from the practice of law for four years, effective February 27, 2013.
In count one, Ross threatened to withdraw from representation of a client in a family law matter, less than a week before the client's trial. At that time, she requested a $10,500 payment be made by noon the following day. When the client—who was current with billing payments—did not pay the amount requested, Ross filed a "Mandatory Motion to Withdraw" and requested a continuance without discussing the issue with the client.
Ross sued her client for attorney fees, despite her client's request to exercise the fee arbitration clause in the signed fee agreement. In addition, she refused to provide a copy of the fee agreement and attached a note stating that the client had "no defense" to a pleading that was delivered to her now former client.
Ross made intentionally misleading statements to the court during her suit for fees that falsely indicated that the State Bar had reviewed her conduct and would not be taking action. She also signed a false mailing certificate when sending a pleading to her former client and was sanctioned by the court under Rule 11 for filing a “patently defective” Motion for Summary Judgment.
In count two, Ross failed to disclose vital information in a separate family law matter. During her client representation, she failed to provide witness contact information to an unrepresented opposing party. She also advised the unrepresented opposing party that direct contact with witnesses is inappropriate and informed the Superior Court and the Court of Appeals that her client had moved to Tennessee—knowing that the client was residing in Arizona. In addition, Ross filed a disclosure statement that included four expert witnesses, all of whom were members of the judge's former law firm and had no knowledge of her case nor practiced in the area of family law. On the record, she accused the judge of prejudging her case and commented to the courtroom gallery—following a hearing—that the judge, "just doesn’t like lesbians."
In finding that she engaged in misconduct, the hearing panel said the following of Ross:
"The evidence in the record before this panel amply shows that she has considered herself to be above the law, above the Rules of Professional Conduct, and above the basic requirements of the legal profession."
Ross' four-year suspension was effective Feb. 27, 2013. She was ordered to pay $5,348.87 to the State Bar of Arizona for costs and expenses incurred during its investigation. If reinstated, she will be placed on two years of probation.
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 17,000 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.
# # #