On September 16, 2022, Margaret H, Downie, Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Arizona Supreme Court ruled on the Agreement for Discipline by Consent entered into, by and between, the State Bar of Arizona and Yuma attorney Phillip D. Hineman concerning the one-count formal complaint and four State Bar screening matters against Hineman, alleging misconduct. The ruling accepted the agreement and suspended Hineman from the practice of law in Arizona for two years, effective November 5, 2022.

The case is titled In the Matter of a Member of the State Bar of Arizona, case no. 21-1731.

The charges cited Hineman’s violation of Rules 1.3, 14, 1.5(b), 1.8(a), 1.15(d), 1.16(d), 3.3(a), and 8.4(d) of the Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct.

The Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct can be found on The State Bar of Arizona’s website.

According to the filing:

“The State Bar believes that Respondent violated ER 1.5(a) by entering into the barter agreement, since the
indeterminate value of the services Sant provided under the agreement necessarily raised a question as to whether the fee charged and received by Respondent was reasonable. The State Bar believes Respondent violated ER 1.7(a)(2) by entering into the barter agreement, in that Respondent’s failure to specify in his March 9, 2020 letter how the parties’ respective services would be credited gave rise to an actual conflict between Respondent’s interests and Sant’s interest when disagreements arose in June 2021 as to those issues.”

The filing continues:

“While the State Bar believes it could prove violations of ER 1.5(a) and 1.7(a)(2) by clear and convincing evidence, for purposes of this consent agreement it has agreed to dismiss those charges in light of Respondent’s unqualified admission that he violated ER 1.8(a) by entering into the barter agreement. Because ER 1.8(a) protects a client from a lawyer’s conflicting financial interest by requiring transactions between a lawyer and client to be fair and reasonable to the client and to have terms that are fully disclosed and reasonably understood by the client, Respondent’s admitted violation of that Rule encompasses the same conduct giving rise to the dismissed violations of ER 1.5(a) and ER 1.7(a)(2).”

The filing additionally notes:

“With respect to the Affidavit of Financial Information that Respondent submitted as evidence in the June 2021 hearing, the State Bar will dismiss Rule 42, Ariz. R. Sup. Ct., ER 4.1(a) and ER 8.4(c) as the State Bar is unable to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Respondent knowingly made false statements of fact and law.

On September 9, 2022, the State Bar and Respondent filed an Agreement for Discipline by Consent for the Court’s approval where Respondent voluntarily waived his right to an adjudicatory hearing, as well as motions, defenses, objections, or requests that could be asserted. According to the agreement, he has paid restitution to the client in SB22-1468 and SB22-1585.

Respondent admitted his violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct in the formal complaint PDJ 2022-9024,
by entering into the barter agreement and by failing to take remedial action after learning it was inaccurate.

As to the four State Bar screening matters, namely SB22-1321 (Gurrola), SB22-1468 (Zoskey), SB22-1506 (Maurer), and SB22-1585 (Garcia & Pichardo), Respondent conditionally admitted that he failed to diligently pursue the matters and communicate with his clients, that he failed to timely provide an accounting and refund, and that he did not obtain a signed amended fee agreement in (Gurrola), and in (Garcia & Pichardo) he violated 8.4(d) by engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

The State Bar and Respondent conditionally agreed that the sanction of a two-year suspension and if reinstated, Respondent shall be placed on probation for two years. In addition, Mr. Hineman agreed to not take any new clients or new matters from the date of the final Judgment and Order and the November 5th effective date.

Accordingly, in its Final Judgment and Order, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge accepted the Agreement for Discipline by Consent.

The disposition reads:

“IT IS ORDERED that Phillip D. Hineman is suspended from the practice of law in Arizona for two years – effective November 5, 2022 — for his conduct in violation of the Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct, as outlined in the consent documents.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Mr. Hineman shall not accept any new clients or new matters as of the date of filing this Final Judgment and Order.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that if Mr. Hineman is reinstated to the practice of law after serving his term of suspension, he shall be placed on probation with terms dictated by the hearing panel. . . “

Respondent was also ordered to pay the costs and expenses of the State Bar of Arizona in the amount of $1,200.00 within 30 days of the Final Judgment and Order.

Mr. Phillip D. Hineman graduated from Pepperdine University School of law. He practices in Yuma, Arizona prior to this Order of suspension. He has been licensed in Arizona, license no. 011887. His info can be found on LinkedIn.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.