SUPREME COURT, STATE OF COLORADO

ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN DISCIPLINE BEFORE
THE PRESIDING DISCIPLINARY JUDGE
1560 Broadway, Suite 675
Denver, Colorado. 80202
Complainant:
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF COLORADO
• COURT USE ONLY ...
Respondent:
SYNTHIA KAYE MORRIS Case Number:
Charles E. Mortimer, Jr., #16122 110 PDJ 037
Assistan t Regulation Counsel
John S. Gleason, #15011
Regulation Counsel
Attorneys for Complainant
1560 Broadway, Suite 1800
Denver, Colorado 80202
Telephone: (303) 866-6400, ext. 6443
Fax No.: (303) 893-5302
COMPLAINT THIS COMPLAINT is filed pursuant to the authority of C.R.C.P. 251.9 through 251.14, and it is alleged as follows:

Jurisdiction

1. The respondent has taken and subscribed the oath of admission,

was admitted to the bar of this court on April 27, 1989, and is registered upon the official records of this court, registration no. 18397. She is subject to the jurisdiction of this court in these disciplinary proceedings. The respondent's registered business address is 31 North Tejon, Suite 500, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903.

Preliminary Allegations

THE ARC MATTER 09-02749

2. Respondent was retained to defend husband and wife in a civil

commercial dispute, case no. 06 cv 3300 filed in EI Paso County District Court. Respondent substituted in as defendants' counsel in February 2007 and filed a

motion to set aside a summary judgment that had been entered against them. Respondent's motion was granted in March 2007. Subsequently, the original summary judgment motion was denied.

3. In April 2008, the case was set for trial on October 24, 2008.

4. Thereafter, a discovery dispute ensued wherein plaintiff alleged

that respondent failed to timely provide discovery responses.

5. Respondent filed a motion to continue the October 24, 2008 trial.

6. On October 24, 2008, neither respondent nor her clients were

present. The court entered discovery sanctions against respondent's clients and continued the trial until October 30, 2008. The court further ordered that respondent was individually liable for plaintiffs attorney's fees from October 18, 2008 until October 24, 2008.

7. Respondent filed another motion to continue the October 30 trial

date. Respondent alleged that she couldn't appear due to illness. The motion was denied. Respondent states that she was confused by the record and believed the motion had been granted.

8. On October 30, 2008, plaintiff appeared for trial. Neither

respondent nor her clients appeared. The court heard evidence and took the case under advisement.

9. Having heard nothing from the respondent, on November 19, 2008,

the court entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff and against defendants.

10. Respondent took no action on her client's behalf until May 14, 2009, at which time she filed a motion to set aside the judgment pursuant to C.R.C.P.60. The motion was denied the following day.

11. Plaintiff then began efforts to collect the judgment. Creditors' interrogatories were served on respondent's clients, but not answered.

12. Plaintiff filed a motion for contempt citation, and a show cause date of July 22, 2009 was set. Respondent was required to appear on that date.

13. Neither respondent nor her clients appeared on July 22, 2009.

The clerk attempted to contact the respondent by telephone, but could reach only an answering machine. The court issued a bench warrant for defendants' arrest and set bond at $50.00. The court also issued an order requiring respondent to show cause why she should not be held in contempt for her failure to appear on July 22, 2009.

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14. The order to show cause was mailed to the respondent on July 28, 2009. On July 30, 2009, the respondent filed a motion to quash the warrant directed to her clients. The court agreed to hold the warrant in abeyance.

15. The court appointed independent counsel Leo Finklestein to prosecute the order to show cause that had been issued against the respondent. A different judge was assigned to hear the case. On November 2, 2009, a contempt hearing was held before Judge Rebecca Bromley. She found respondent in contempt of court based upon a violation of the order for her to appear in court on July 22, 2009. Judge Bromley imposed a fine of $1,000.00.

FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF

[Colo. R.P.C. 1.3 - A Lawyer shall act with Reasonable Diligence and Promptness in Representing a Client.]

16. All prior averments are incorporated herein.

17. Respondent failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing her clients. Consequently, respondent violated Colo. R.P.C. 1.3.

WHEREFORE, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

SECOND CLAIM FOR RELIEF

[Colo. R.P.C. 8.4(d) - A Lawyer shall not Engage in Conduct that is Prejudicial to the Interests of Justice]

18. All prior averments are incorporated herein.

19. Respondent engaged in conduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice including, without limitation, failing to appear for trial on October 30, 2008 and failing to appear in court on July 22, 2009.

WHEREFORE, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

THIRD CLAIM FOR RELIEF

[Colo. R.P.C. 3.4(c) - A Lawyer shall not Knowingly Disobey the Rules of a Tribunal]

20. All prior averments are incorporated herein.

21. Respondent knowingly disobeyed the court's order to appear on July 22, 2009, resulting in respondent's being held in contempt of court. Respondent therefore violated Colo.R.P.C. 3.4(c).

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WHEREFORE, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

THE LEWIS MATTER- 09-00164

22. In 2008 a Mr. Lewis retained respondent to represent him in a probate matter. On March 15, 2008, respondent prepared an application for informal probate of will and informal appointment of personal representative and filed the documents with the court.

23. Thereafter, the case was closed due to a problem with the electronic transmission of the documents respondent filed. Respondent was unaware that the case had been closed. Respondent took no further action on the case for a year.

24. In April 2009, respondent attempted to file additional documents and learned that the case was closed. Respondent then filed documents to reopen the case.

25. Respondent completed the representation in July 2009.

26. Respondent did not provide the client with a written statement of the basis or rate of the fee to be charged in the matter.

FOURTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF

[Colo. R.P.C. 1.3 - A Lawyer shall Represent a Client Diligently]

27. The averments of paragraphs of 1 and 22 through 26 are incorporated herein.

28. Respondent violated Colo. R.P.C. 1.3 by failing to represent Mr.

Lewis with reasonable diligence and promptness.

WHEREFORE, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

FIFTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF

[Colo. R.P.C. I.S(b) - A Lawyer shall Provide a Written Statement Concerning the Basis or Rate of a Fee to be Charged]

29. The averments of paragraphs 1 and 22 through 26 are incorporated herein.

30. Respondent violated Colo. R.P.C. 1.5{b) by failing to provide Mr.

Lewis a written statement concerning the, basis or rate of the fee to be charged in the pro bate matter.

WHEREFORE, complainant seeks relief as set forth more fully below.

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SIXTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF

[Colo. R.P.C. 1.4(a)(2) and (3) - A Lawyer shall Reasonably Consult with a Client about the Means for which the Client's Objectives are to be Accomplished, and shall keep a Client Reasonably Informed about the Status of the Matter]

31. The averments of paragraphs 1 and 22 through 26 are incorporated herein.

32. Respondent violated Colo. R.P.C. 1. 4 (a)(2) and (3) by failing to reasonably consult with Mr. Lewis about the means by which his objectives were to be accomplished in the probate matter, and by failing to keep Mr. Lewis reasonably informed about the status of the matter.

WHEREFORE, the people pray that the respondent be found to have engaged in misconduct under C.R.C.P. 251.5 and the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct as specified above; the respondent be appropriately disciplined for such misconduct; the respondent be required to refund fees to the client, and/or the client protection fund pursuant to C.R.C.P. 252.14(b), and/ or provide restitution to third parties; the respondent be required to return client files (or other client property); the respondent be required to take any other remedial action appropriate under the circumstances; and the respondent be assessed the costs of this proceeding.

DATED this ____Z_ day of April, 2010.

Charles E. Mortimer, r., #16122 Assistant Regulation Counsel John S. Gleason, #15011 Regulation Counsel

Attorneys for Complainant

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