CRAIG KENNETH MARTIN [#74750], 62, of San Francisco
was disbarred Aug. 21, 2010, and was ordered to comply withrule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.The State Bar Court found that Martin committed six acts of misconduct, including failing to perform legal services withcompetence, respond to client inquiries, inform his client of significant developments, account for client funds and refund unearnedfees, and he improperly withdrew from representation. Although he faced charges in a second matter, the bar court dismissed it.
Martin was hired to attempt to resolve issues with an attorney who had been handling his client’s late husband’s estate. He t
ook a$5,000 advance fee and filed a complaint that alleged negligence. However, he did not serve the defendants by the requireddeadline, obtain an answer or file an acceptable default against the defendants, appear at repeated hearings or file a Second Amended Complaint. The case was dismissed with prejudice, but Martin did not inform his client for four months.
He also didn’t send the client a monthly accounting of her fee or refund the unearned portion of the fee when the case was
dismissed. He stipulated that he wit
hdrew from representation without protecting his client’s interests.
In the second matter, he sued two people for slander. The bar alleged that by not filing an arbitration brief, not appearing atarbitration and summary judgment hearings or at oral argument before the Court of Appeal, Martin maintained an unjust action.Bar court Judge Pat McElroy disagreed and dismissed the charge.
However, she recommended Martin’s disbarment. He was disciplined four times previously, beginning in 1991, but McElroy said,―the present matter reflects some of the same misconduct that (Martin) has been disciplined for in the past —
namely failing to
perform with competence and failing to communicate significant developments to his client.‖ The judge said she had little ass
uranceMartin would not commit similar misconduct in the future.
In mitigation, he presented what the judge called an ―extraordinary demonstration of good character‖ and evidence of substant
ialpro bono work.
DAVID GERARD MENDEZ [#99953], 54, of San Leandro
was disbarred Sept. 2, 2010, and was ordered to comply with rule9.20 of the California Rules of Court.
Mendez committed two acts of misconduct while defending a hotel that was sued for barring a tenant’s companion animal –
a 16- year-old cat
from living with him. The tenant accused the hotel of housing discrimination, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and unfair business practices.Mendez did not respond to discovery requests or various motions, was sanctioned twice and a default judgment was entered against
the hotel for $151,200 plus attorney’s fees and costs of $26,987. Although he did not notify his client about the sanctions o
r theoutcome of the case, he asked another lawyer for help in setting aside the default judgment. The client only learned about the courtorder when the sheriff arrived with a notice of levy against the hotel. The hotel was forced into bankruptcy.Judge Lucy Armendariz found that Mendez failed to perform legal services competently or keep his client informed of significantdevelopments in his case. Although he repaid $11,000, Armendariz noted that Mendez has been disciplined three times previously.
―The present matter reflects a continuing inability to fully appreciate the duties he owes to his clients,‖ the judge wrote. ―Moreover,the lack of compelling mitigating circumstances involved in the present matter and (Mendez’s) stated indifference . . . give
little justification to recommend a level of discipline short of disbarment.‖
JILL A. SCHOLTEN [#164629], 49, of Crescent City
was summarily disbarred Sept. 2, 2010, and was ordered to comply withrule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.She was convicted of grand theft, a crime that meets the criteria for summary disbarment
it is a felony that involves moralturpitude.Court records indicate Scholten stole about $13,000 from a client in a divorce proceeding, using the money to pay personal expensesand at casinos. She was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
FRANK ANGELO D’ALFONSI [#146104], 72, of San Francisco
was disbarred Sept. 8, 2010, and was ordered to makerestitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.
In a default matter, the State Bar Court recommended that D’Alfonsi be disba
rred for failing to comply with rule 9.20, as required by a 2009 disciplinary order, and for misconduct, including misappropriation, while representing a client in the purchase of a business.
The client gave D’Alfonsi a check for $35,000 as his down paymen
t for the purchase of the business as well as a $1,500 advanceattorney fee. He put the money in his general bank account rather than a client trust account and misappropriated the $35,000. At
one point, D’Alfonsi wrote a check to his client for $35,000 bu
t it bounced. He said bank error was to blame.
D’Alfonsi also did not prepare the purchase agreement, licensing papers or do any other work connected to purchasing his client’s business. The client bought the business without D’Alfonsi’s help.
ipulated that he commingled funds, failed to hold funds in trust, communicate with his client, perform legal services
competently, refund unearned fees or cooperate with the bar’s investigation, and he committed acts of moral turpitude by
misappropriating client funds and making misstatements to his client.In the probation violation matter, he did not submit to the bar court an affidavit stating that he notified his clients, opposing counseland other interested parties of his suspension from practice. F
ailure to comply with rule 9.20 is grounds for disbarment. D’Alfonsialso violated probation requirements by not contacting the bar’s probation office, submitting a quarterly report or complying
withlaboratory testing conditions.He was disciplined previo
usly and in that matter, the court considered as mitigation his cooperation with the bar’s investigation, no
prior discipline, physical and emotional difficulties and participation in the Lawyers Assistance Program.
THOMAS BREEN KIDWELL [#66413], 62, of Campbell
was disbarred Jan. 13, 2011, and was ordered to make restitutionand comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.The State Bar Court found that Kidwell committed 17 acts of misconduct in four matters, including misappropriating approximately $235,518.71 from three clients. He also failed to perform legal services competently, deposit client funds in a trust account, promptly pay out client funds or communicate with clients and he committed acts of moral turpitude. During a five-day trial, Judge Lucy Armendariz concluded that his testimony lacked credibility and was often evasive.In one matter, for example, Kidwell represented an insulation business that was one of more than 100 defendants in asbestos-related litigation. The company president also was getting a divorce and the company was joined to the divorce action. During thecourse of the divorce, Kidwell received $158,095 from the sale of a country club membership. After making court-ordered payments,he should have kept have a balance of about $76,275 in trust pending written agreement of the parties or further order of the court.The couple authorized Kidwell to use the remainder of the funds to pay them monthly salaries and appropriate payroll taxes asemployees of the insulation business. However, he did not pay the payroll taxes. He also did not make the required quarterly wagereports to the Employment Development Department.