On Tuesday, September 26, 2023, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Supreme Court of Colorado disbarred attorney John Lawrence Buckley following a sanctions hearing. Buckley failed to respond to his client’s reasonable requests for information and did not adequately consult with his client about the criminal matter.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of John Lawrence Buckley,” with case no. 23PDJ009.
In 2021, Buckley served as legal counsel for a client who was charged with driving under the influence. The client paid Buckley a flat fee of $4,000 in May 2021, which covered various stages of legal representation, including preliminary hearings, sentencing, and case dismissal if applicable.
However, Buckley failed to fulfill certain obligations to the client. This includes not responding to reasonable requests for information and neglecting to adequately consult with the client regarding the criminal matter. This lack of consultation encompassed crucial aspects such as the potential benefits and advisability of entering a guilty plea and participating in a program for multiple offenders that could have resulted in a significantly reduced jail sentence.
Furthermore, Buckley did not inform the client about the conditions related to their bond, which included the requirement to participate in monitored sobriety. Additionally, Buckley neglected to initiate the process for a driver’s license revocation hearing before the Department of Motor Vehicles and did not notify the client of the subsequent revocation of the client’s license.
As a result of these shortcomings, the client terminated Buckley’s representation before the case reached a conclusion. Despite being aware that he had not earned a portion of the client’s fee when the representation was terminated, Buckley did not provide any refund to the client. Furthermore, Buckley depleted his trust account, knowing that the client’s funds were held within it.
During the investigation into this matter, Buckley was aware that disciplinary authorities had requested his financial and trust account records. However, he failed to provide the requested information.
According to the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, Buckley’s conduct violated several provisions outlined in the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct. These include Rule 1.2(a) (mandating that lawyers respect the client’s decisions regarding case objectives and consult with the client on the means to achieve those objectives), Rule 1.3 (requiring lawyers to act diligently and promptly in representing clients), and Rule 1.4(a)(1)-(4) (imposing obligations to promptly inform the client of decisions or circumstances requiring informed consent, consult with the client on how to achieve their objectives, keep the client informed about the case’s status, and promptly respond to reasonable requests for information).
Additionally, Buckley breached Rule 1.4(b) (which expects lawyers to explain matters thoroughly to enable clients to make informed decisions), Rule 1.15A(a) (which mandates lawyers to keep client property separate from their own), Rule 1.15D (which requires lawyers to maintain proper trust account records), and Rule 1.16(d) (which emphasizes the duty to protect a client’s interests upon termination of representation, including the return of unearned fees).
Lastly, Buckley violated Rule 8.1(b) (which prohibits lawyers from knowingly failing to respond to lawful demands for information from disciplinary authorities) and Rule 8.4(c) (which states that engaging in dishonest, fraudulent, deceitful, or misleading conduct constitutes professional misconduct).
According to avvo.com, Mr. Buckley was a DUI and DWI attorney in Denver, Colorado. He attended the University of Denver College of Law. He acquired his law license in 2005.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.