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People v. Auer

Supreme Court of Colorado

June 18, 2014

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF COLORADO, Complainant
v.
DAVID AUER, Respondent

OPINION

Page 137

WILLIAM R. LUCERO, PRESIDING DISCIPLINARY JUDGE.

OPINION AND DECISION IMPOSING SANCTIONS PURSUANT TO C.R.C.P. 251.19(c)

On June 5, 2014, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge (" the Court" ) held a sanctions hearing pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.15(b). Timothy J. O'Neill appeared on behalf of the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel (" the People" ). David Auer (" Respondent" ) failed to appear. The Court now issues the following " Opinion and Decision Imposing Sanctions Pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.19(c)."

I. SUMMARY

In this case, Respondent, who is not a licensed attorney in the State of Colorado, intentionally practiced law in this state for more than three years without the supervision of a licensed lawyer. He also engaged in dishonest conduct by intentionally holding himself out as a licensed Colorado attorney to his clients. The Court finds that the appropriate sanction is disbarment.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The People filed their complaint on January 7, 2014. A copy of the complaint and citation were served upon Respondent by certified and regular mail at his last known address: 4906 W. 114th Place, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74137. Respondent failed to answer the complaint. On February 25, 2014, the People filed a motion for entry of default against Respondent, who did not file a response. The Court granted the People's motion for default on March 24, 2014.

Upon the entry of default, the Court deems all facts set forth in the complaint admitted and all rule violations established

Page 138

by clear and convincing evidence.[1] During the sanctions hearing on June 5, 2014, the Court considered the People's exhibit 1 and heard testimony from Loni Woodley.

III. ESTABLISHED FACTS AND RULE VIOLATIONS

Respondent was admitted to the bar of the Oklahoma Supreme Court on September 1, 1991, under attorney registration number 14672. At all relevant times, however, Respondent practiced law in Colorado. He is thus subject to the Court's jurisdiction in these disciplinary proceedings.[2] Because Respondent has defaulted, the admitted facts and rule violations are presented in abbreviated form. Further details are available in the People's complaint.

Facts Established By Default

On December 23, 2009, Respondent, a licensed certified public accountant in Colorado and Oklahoma, entered into a partnership with Loni Woodley, an accountant, after purchasing two Colorado Springs accountancy firms. The partnership was formed with the intent to practice accounting in Colorado. The new partnership became known as Auer Woodley CPAs (" AW" ). Respondent mentioned to Woodley that he could apply for a Colorado law license, with the intent to practice estate and business planning in Colorado under the supervision of a Colorado attorney while he sought Colorado bar membership.

In early 2010, Respondent contacted Terry Doherty, an attorney in Colorado Springs. Respondent informed Doherty that he was applying for a law license in Colorado and was seeking to partner with a licensed Colorado attorney who would supervise his work while he was waiting for his license. Respondent then negotiated with Doherty to form a law firm. At the time, Respondent had yet to submit an application for admission to the Colorado bar.

On September 8, 2010, Respondent filed papers with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office, registering Auer Doherty as a limited liability law partnership. Respondent began practicing law from AW's Colorado office while using the Auer Doherty name. He provided Colorado clients with advice concerning estate planning matters, and he drafted estate planning documents, including wills, revocable and irrevocable trust documents, and insurance trusts.

In November 2010, Doherty became concerned that Respondent was not pursuing a Colorado law license. After discussing these concerns with Respondent, Doherty wrote Respondent a memorandum in which he alleged that Respondent was engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by rendering estate planning advice and creating documents for clients. He also questioned Respondent's solicitation of clients. Doherty had never reviewed or supervised ...


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