Case Number(s): 06-O-10128
In the Matter of: Walter James Roberts, IV, Bar # 225339, A Member of the State Bar of California, (Respondent).
Counsel For The State Bar: William F. Stralka, Bar # 056147
Counsel for Respondent: Bar #
Submitted to: assigned judge State Bar Court Clerk’s Office Los Angeles
<<not>> checked. PREVIOUS STIPULATION REJECTED
Note: All information required by this form and any additional information which cannot be provided in the space provided, must be set forth in an attachment to this stipulation under specific headings, e.g., "Facts," "Dismissals," "Conclusions of Law," "Supporting Authority," etc.
1. Respondent is a member of the State Bar of California, admitted June 3, 2003
2. The parties agree to be bound by the factual stipulations contained herein even if conclusions of law or disposition are rejected or changed by the Supreme Court.
3. All investigations or proceedings listed by case number in the caption of this stipulation are entirely resolved by this stipulation and are deemed consolidated. Dismissed charge(s)/count(s) are listed under "Dismissals." The stipulation consists of 13 pages, not including the order.
4. A statement of acts or omissions acknowledged by Respondent as cause or causes for discipline is included under "Facts."
5. Conclusions of law, drawn from and specifically referring to the facts are also included under "Conclusions of Law".
6. The parties must include supporting authority for the recommended level of discipline under the heading "Supporting Authority."
7. No more than 30 days prior to the filing of this stipulation, Respondent has been advised in writing of any pending investigation/proceeding not resolved by this stipulation, except for criminal investigations.
8. Payment of Disciplinary Costs-Respondent acknowledges the provisions of Bus. & Prof. Code §§6086.10 & 6140.7. (Check one option only):
<<not>> checked. until costs are paid in full, Respondent will remain actually suspended from the practice of law unless relief is obtained per rule 284, Rules of Procedure.
checked. costs to be paid in equal amounts prior to February 1 for the following membership years: 2007 and 2008 following the effective date of the Supreme Court Order (hardship, special circumstances or other good cause per rule 284, Rules of Procedure.)
<<not>> checked. costs waived in part as set forth in a separate attachment entitled "Partial Waiver of Costs".
<<not>> checked. costs entirely waived.
Case Number(s): 06-O-10128
In the Matter of: Walter J. Roberts, IV A Member of the State Bar
checked. a. Within 60 days/ months/ years of the effective date of the discipline herein, Respondent must develop a law office management/organization plan, which must be approved by the Office of Probation. This plan must include procedures to (1) send periodic reports to clients; (2) document telephone messages received and sent; (3) maintain files; (4) meet deadlines; (5) withdraw as attorney, whether of record or not, when clients cannot be contacted or located; (6) train and supervise support personnel; and (7) address any subject area or deficiency that caused or contributed to Respondent’s misconduct in the current proceeding.
checked. b. Within days/ months/ 2 years of the effective date of the discipline herein, Respondent must submit to the Office of Probation satisfactory evidence of completion of no less than hours of Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) approved courses in law office management, attorney client relations and/or general legal ethics. This requirement is separate from any MCLE requirement, and Respondent will not receive MCLE credit for attending these courses (Rule 3201, Rules of Procedure of the State Bar.)
checked. c. Within 30 days of the effective date of the discipline, Respondent must join the Law Practice Management and Technology Section of the State Bar of California and pay the dues and costs of enrollment for year(s). Respondent must furnish satisfactory evidence of membership in the section to the Office of Probation of the State Bar of California in the first report required.
(b) Respondent shall complete the nine (9) hours of MCLE within nine (9) months of the effective date of the order of the Supreme court in this matter.
IN THE MATTER OF: WALTER J. ROBERTS, IV
CASE NUMBER(S): 06-0-10128
The disclosure date referred to, on page one, paragraph A.(7), was August 15, 2006
PARTIES ARE BOUND BY THE STIPULATION FACTS:
The Parties intend to be and are hereby bound by the stipulation to facts contained in this stipulation. This stipulation as to facts, and the facts so stipulated shall independently survive, even if the conclusions of law and/or stipulated disposition set forth herein are rejected, or changed in any manner whatsoever, by the Hearing Department or the Review Department of the State Bar Court, or by the California Supreme Court.
STIPULATION AS TO FACTS AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW:
Respondent admits that the following facts are true, and that he is culpable of violations of the specified statutes and/or Rules of Professional Conduct, or has otherwise committed acts of misconduct warranting discipline.
FACTS: CASE NO. 06-0-10128:
1. On January 19, 2005, a Dismissal without prejudice was entered at the request of the Plaintiff’s attorney in the case of Charles Buffa v. Salwa Barsoum, Los Angeles Superior Court, case no. SC081383 ("the BUFFA matter").
2. On April 26, 2005, following the dismissal of the BUFFA matter, Charles Buffa ("Buffa"), the Plaintiff, signed a retainer agreement with Respondent to make a motion to set aside the dismissal of the BUFFA matter. Because of the date of dismissal, time was of the essence in filing the Motion to Set Aside the Dismissal.
3. On June 22, 2005, Respondent advised opposing counsel that he had been retained to represent Buffa. Respondent requested that opposing counsel agree to set aside the Dismissal granted on January 19, 2005. Respondent also requested a response to his offer to set aside the Dismissal before June 29, 2005.
4. On July 15, 2005, Respondent transmitted to Buffa a Substitution of Attorney Form for his signature. Respondent advised Buffa that opposing counsel was ignoring him. Respondent further advised Buffa that he would be filing a Motion to Set Aside the Dismissal and would request a court date by the end of the following week.
5. On July 22, 2005, Respondent informed David Greenwald ("Greenwald"), Buffa’s prior counsel, that he had misplaced the Substitution of Attorney Form that Buffa had previously executed. Respondent then requested that Greenwald sign and return a new Substitution of Attorney Form.
6. Between July 22 and July 29, 2005, Greenwald returned the signed Substitution of Attorney Form to Respondent. On July 29, 2005 Respondent filed the Substitution of Attorney Form with the Court.
7. On October 11, 2005, Respondent filed and served the Motion to Set Aside Dismissal. This Motion was brought pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure Section 473, that permits a motion to set aside dismissal to be filed "in no case exceeding six months after...dismissal..." [Code of Civ. Proc., section 473]. Dismissal in this action, as stated previously, was entered at Plaintiff’s request on January 19, 2005. The Motion to Set Aside Dismissal was filed on October 11, 2005, nearly three months late. The Motion was denied because it was not timely filed.
8. On October 26, 2005, the opposition to the Motion to Set Aside Dismissal was filed.
9. On November 10, 2005, Buffa’s Motion to Set Aside Dismissal was called regularly for hearing. Respondent failed to appear at the regularly called scheduled hearing and the Court tentatively denied the Motion to Set Aside.
10. On November 16, 2005, the Court denied the Motion to Set Aside Dismissal.
11. On March 1, 2005, Respondent entered into a Stipulation as to Facts, Conclusion of Law and Disposition ("Stipulation") with the State Bar in case no. 04-0-11044.
12. On March 10, 2005, the Hearing Department of the State Bar filed an order approving the Stipulation and making disciplinary recommendations to the California Supreme Court, including a period of stayed suspension and probation as set forth below.
13. On July 1, 2005, The California Supreme Court filed an Order ("Order") in case no. S 133040 (State Bar Court case no. 04-0-11044) that Respondent be suspended from the practice of law for thirty days, that execution of suspension be stayed, and that he be placed on probation for two years subject to the conditions of probation recommended by the State Bar Court Hearing Department.
14. On July 1, 2005, the Clerk of the California Supreme Court properly served the Respondent with a copy of the July 1, 2005 Order. Respondent received the order.
15. The July 1, 2005 Order became effective on July 31, 2005, thirty days after it was entered.
16. Pursuant to the July 1, 2005 California Supreme Court Order and the State Bar Court Hearing Department’s March 10, 2005 Order approving the stipulation, the Respondent was ordered to comply with the following relevant conditions of probation, among other conditions: "During the probation period, Respondent shall comply with the provisions of the State Bar Act and Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California."
17. Respondent had actual knowledge of the Supreme Court order at all relevant times herein from the effective date of his probation and at all times during the pendency of his probation in case no. S 133040.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW:
1. Respondent failed to substitute into the BUFFA matter immediately after he was employed. Respondent failed to timely file the Motion to Set Aside Dismissal in the BUFFA matter, or to appear at the Motion to Set Aside Dismissal hearing. Respondent intentionally, recklessly, or repeatedly failed to perform legal services with competence in wilful violation of Rules of Professional Conduct, rule 3-110(A).
2. Respondent failed to inform Buffa of the loss of the original Substitution of Attorney form signed by Buffa. Respondent failed to inform Buffa of the untimely filing of the Motion to Set Aside Dismissal. Respondent failed to inform Buffa of the court date for the Motion to Set Aside Dismissal hearing that Respondent later missed; therefore, Respondent failed to keep the client reasonably informed of significant developments in a case that the Respondent had agreed to provide legal services, in wilful violation of Business and Professions Code, section 6068(m).
3. Respondent wilfully violated Rules of Professional Conduct, rule 3-110(A), and Business and Professions Code, section 6068(m), by failing to timely file the Motion to Set Aside Dismissal and by failing to keep Buffa reasonably informed of significant developments in the BUFFA matter, while he was on disciplinary probation in case no. S 133040, in wilful violation of Business and Profession Code, section 6068(k).
Standards for Attorney Sanctions for Professional Misconduct, Standard(s) 1.4(C); 1.5(d); 1.7(a); 2.4(b); 2.6(a); and 2.10.
In determining the level of discipline in a probation violation case, the court must consider the "total length of stayed suspension which could be imposed as an actual suspension and the total amount of actual suspension earlier imposed as a condition of the discipline at the time probation was granted." (ln the Matter of Potack (Review Dept. 1991) 1 Cal. State Bar Ct. Rptr. 525, 540.) Given the nature of the misconduct in this case, the actual suspension need not exceed the stayed suspension imposed in Respondent’s prior discipline matter.
COSTS OF DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS:
Respondent acknowledges that the Office of Chief Trial Counsel has informed Respondent that as of August 8, 2006, the estimated prosecution costs in this matter are approximately $1,983. Respondent acknowledges that this figure is an estimate only and that it does not include State Bar Court costs which will be included in any final cost assessment.
Respondent further acknowledges that should this stipulation be rejected or should relief from the stipulation be granted, the costs in this matter may increase due to the cost of further proceedings.
SIGNATURE OF THE PARTIES
Case Number(s): 06-O-10128
In the Matter of: Walter J. Roberts, IV
By their signatures below, the parties and their counsel, as applicable, signify their agreement with each of the recitation and each of the terms and conditions of this Stipulation Re Facts, Conclusions of Law and Disposition.
Respondent: Walter J. Roberts, IV
Deputy Trial Counsel: William F. Stralka
Case Number(s): 06-O-10128
In the Matter of: Walter J. Roberts, IV
Finding the stipulation to be fair to the parties and that it adequately protects the public, IT IS ORDERED that the requested dismissal of counts/charges, if any is GRANTED without prejudice, and:
checked. The stipulated facts and disposition are APPROVED and the DISCIPLINE RECOMMENDED to the Supreme Court.
<<not>> checked. The stipulated facts and disposition are APPROVED AS MODIFIED as set forth below, and the DISCIPLINE IS RECOMMENDED to the Supreme Court.
<<not>> checked. All Hearing dates are vacated.
The parties are bound by the stipulation as approved unless: 1) a motion to withdraw or modify the stipulation, filed within 15 days after service of this order, is granted; or 2) this court modifies or further modifies the approved stipulation. (See rule 135(b), Rules of Procedure.) The effective date of this disposition is the effective date of the Supreme Court order herein, normally 30 days after the file date. (See rule 953(a), California Rules of Court.)
Judge of the State Bar Court: Robert M. Talcott
[Rule 62(b), Rules Proc.; Code Civ. Proc., § 1013a(4)]
I am a Case Administrator of the State Bar Court of California. I am over the age of eighteen and not a party to the within proceeding. Pursuant to standard court practice, in the City and County of Los Angeles, on September 26, 2006, I deposited a true copy of the following document(s):
STIPULATION RE FACTS, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND DISPOSITION AND ORDER APPROVING
in a sealed envelope for collection and mailing on that date as follows:
checked. by first-class mail, with postage thereon fully prepaid, through the United States Postal Service at Los Angeles, California, addressed as follows:
WALTER J. ROBERTS IV, ESQ.
3325 WILSHIRE BLVD STE 1350
LOS ANGELES CA 90010-1709
checked. by interoffice mail through a facility regularly maintained by the State Bar of California addressed as follows:
WILLIAM STRALKA, ESQ., Enforcement, Los Angeles
I hereby certify that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed in , California, on .
Rose M. Luthi
State Bar Court