423 P.3d 407 (Colo.O.P.D.J. 2018), 17PDJ059, People v. Goode

Docket Nº:17PDJ059
Citation:423 P.3d 407
Opinion Judge:WILLIAM R. LUCERO, PRESIDING DISCIPLINARY JUDGE.
Party Name:The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Complainant, v. William Kevin GOODE, #37063, Respondent.
Attorney:Sara C. Van Deusen Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel.
Case Date:April 26, 2018
Court:Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Supreme Court of Colorado
 
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423 P.3d 407 (Colo.O.P.D.J. 2018)

The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Complainant,

v.

William Kevin GOODE, #37063, Respondent.

No. 17PDJ059

Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Supreme Court of Colorado

April 26, 2018

ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN DISCIPLINE BEFORE THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDING DISCIPLINARY JUDGE 1300 BROADWAY, SUITE 250 DENVER, CO 80203.

Sara C. Van Deusen Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel.

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

WILLIAM R. LUCERO, PRESIDING DISCIPLINARY JUDGE.

William Kevin Goode ("Respondent") was convicted of twenty-eight felony counts of cruelty to animals, based on the pain and suffering he inflicted on twenty dogs and eight cats in his care. He never reported his conviction to disciplinary authorities and declined to participate in this proceeding. Respondent’s misconduct warrants a suspension of two years.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On August 16, 2017, Sara C. Van Deusen, Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel ("the People"), filed a complaint with the Presiding Disciplinary Judge ("the Court"). The same day, the People sent copies of the complaint to Respondent via certified and regular mail at his registered business address and his last-known addresses. Respondent failed to answer, and the Court granted the People’s motion for default on October 27, 2017. Upon the entry of default, the Court deemed all facts set forth in the complaint admitted and

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all rule violations established by clear and convincing evidence.1

On March 6, 2017, the Court held a sanctions hearing under C.R.C.P. 251.15(b). Van Deusen represented the People. Respondent did not appear. The People represented that Respondent had left them voicemails the night before and the morning of the hearing in which he stated that he did not wish to participate.2 At the sanctions hearing, the People’s exhibits 1-3 were admitted into evidence.

II. ESTABLISHED FACTS AND RULE VIOLATIONS

Respondent took the oath of admission and was admitted to practice law in Colorado on November 22, 2005, under attorney registration number 37063. He is thus subject to the Court’s jurisdiction in this disciplinary proceeding.3

On November 25, 2014, Respondent was charged with twenty-eight separate misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals under C.R.S. section 18-9-202(1)(a) as well as twenty-nine separate felony counts of cruelty to animals under C.R.S. section 18-9-202(1.5)(b). Each of these fifty-seven counts relates to a dog or a cat that prosecutors alleged was in the care of Respondent.

From July 14, 2014, through January 7, 2015, Respondent was represented by the public defender. During a hearing held on January 7, 2015, Respondent testified that he had been practicing criminal defense law for thirty-two years. The court granted Respondent’s leave to proceed pro se, concluding that his waiver of his right to counsel was knowing, intelligent, and voluntary.

A two-day jury trial took place on March 16 and 17, 2015. Respondent was found guilty on all fifty-seven counts. On May 13, 2015, Respondent was sentenced to eighteen months in the custody of the Department of Corrections ("DOC") on count 29, as well as an additional twelve months in the custody of the DOC on counts 30-57, to run consecutively to the sentence for count 29. Respondent was sentenced to six months in DOC’s custody for each of the misdemeanor counts, to run concurrently with the sentence for count 29. He was also sentenced to one year of mandatory parole.

Under C.R.C.P. 251.20(b), Respondent was required to report his conviction to the People no later than March 31, 2015. But he failed to report the conviction at all: the People learned of Respondent’s conviction independently in late 2016.

Respondent was released from the DOC and placed on parole in early 2017. On March 9, 2017, the court of appeals vacated Respondent’s convictions on criminal counts 28 and 57; all other convictions were affirmed.

On July 13, 2017, Respondent was immediately suspended from the practice of law under C.R.C.P. 251.8(a).

Through his misconduct, Respondent violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c), which forbids a lawyer from knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal— here, his duty to report his conviction. He also violated Colo. RPC 8.4(b), which states that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, and C.R.C.P. 251.5(b), which provides that any criminal act reflecting adversely on a lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects is grounds for discipline.

SANCTIONS

The American Bar Association Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions ("ABA Standards ")4 and Colorado Supreme Court case law guide the imposition of sanctions for

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lawyer misconduct.5 When imposing a sanction after a finding of lawyer misconduct, the Court must consider the duty violated, the lawyer’s mental state, and the actual or potential injury caused by the misconduct. These three variables yield a presumptive sanction that may be adjusted based on aggravating and mitigating factors.

ABA Standard 3.0— Duty, Mental State, and Injury

Duty : Lawyers are expected to uphold the law in their professional and personal conduct. By committing multiple criminal acts, Respondent violated a duty he owes to the public to maintain standards of integrity. He also violated his professional duty to the legal system by failing to report his criminal conviction to the People.

Mental State : The order of default establishes that Respondent knowingly failed to report his criminal conviction in contravention of Colo. RPC 3.4(c). Respondent’s conviction under C.R.S. section 18-9-202(1.5)(b), which states that "[a] person commits aggravated cruelty to animals if he or she knowingly tortures, needlessly mutilates, or needlessly kills an animal," establishes that Respondent committed these criminal acts with a knowing mental state.

Injury ...

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