Below the bar

State Bar cracks down on bad lawyers around the capital

Sacramento attorney Matthew Pearson was temporarily suspended last month by the State Bar of California for failing to account for unearned fees in two separate cases. But Pearson was in less trouble than some of his colleagues. California’s licensing body for attorneys has disbarred three area lawyers since late February.

On Feb. 22, the association disbarred Sacramento attorney Ilija Cvetich for misconduct involving five separate clients. It said that Cvetich filed a malpractice suit on behalf of one client, but failed to notify the other parties or show up for court dates. In another instance, Cvetich filed a workers’ compensation claim for a client, then stopped responding to the Workers Compensation Appeals Board.

State Bar Court Judge Lucy Armendariz noted in her factual findings that Cvetich already had a history of “multiple acts of wrongdoing” documented by the association, including forging a client’s signature and wasting judicial resources, which she deemed “aggravating circumstances.”

A week later, Auburn attorney Rick Raynsford was disbarred for misappropriation of funds, co-mingling personal funds in a trust account, practicing law while suspended and failing to comply with a court order.

State Bar Judge Yvette Roland found that Raynsford’s misconduct dated to the Great Recession for services he rendered in 2011 on behalf of a client having a dispute with his mortgage loan company.

Finally, on May 26, the association banned Sacramento attorney William Buckner Menn II from practicing law, claiming he’d failed to perform “legal services with competence,” willfully violated the state’s Business and Professions code and failed to return up-front fees to clients after they fired him.

State Bar Judge Cynthia Valenzuela noted in her findings that Menn had been under investigation by the association since at least June of last year.