Law School Case Brief
People ex rel. Goldberg v. Gordon - 199 Colo. 296, 607 P.2d 995 (1980)
A license to practice law is a proclamation to the public that the holder thereof is one to whom a member of the public may, with confidence, entrust his professional matters, with the assurance that in the performance of legal services the lawyer will perform the basic legal tasks undertaken, competently, ethically, and in accordance with the highest standards of professional conduct. The public, therefore, has every right to except that one who has demonstrated through professional misconduct a lack of minimal professional competence required of attorneys, shall be appropriately disciplined.
A client lodged a formal complaint against Attorney Robert M. Gordon, Jr. with the grievance committee. The attorney had opened the decedent's estate in probate, although all of his assets were owned in joint tenancy with the client. When the attorney became aware that probate of the estate was unnecessary, he demanded an additional and excessive sum of $400 from the client before he would close the estate. The attorney also attempted to obtain a $5,000 promissory note secured by a deed of trust on her home as security for the $400 fee. Further, the attorney claimed an attorney's lien on the client's stock shares that had been delivered to him for estate processing and refused to release the certificates until the client paid him the $400 fee. The grievance committee concluded that the attorney was not competent to practice law and recommended that the attorney's license to practice law be suspended for a period of three years.
Were the Grievance Committee’s findings and conclusions concerning defendant’s unprofessional conduct and general incompetence to practice law amply supported by the evidence?
The Court held that the Grievance Committee’s findings and conclusions concerning defendant’s unprofessional conduct and general incompetence to practice law were amply supported by the evidence. The Grievance Committee recommended that respondent's license to practice law be suspended for a period of three years, and that it be reinstated only upon a showing that respondent has attained a level of competence adequate to justify the reissuance of a license, including satisfaction of all requirements of the Board of Law Examiners for initial admission to the bar, including satisfactory completion of the bar examination. According to the Court, the public has a right to except that a lawyer who has demonstrated through professional misconduct a lack of minimal professional competence required of lawyers, shall be appropriately disciplined.
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