On January 18, 2024, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Supreme Court of Colorado approved a stipulation to discipline, placing attorney Stanley Toshi Matsunaka on probation for two years. Disciplinary measures were imposed due to Matsunaka mishandling a client’s $41,000 claim against an estate, violating professional conduct rules.

The case is entitled “People v. Stanley Toshi Matsunaka” with case number 24PDJ006.

The disciplinary measures stem from Matsunaka’s handling of a client’s claim for approximately $41,000. In the summer of 2020, Matsunaka agreed to assist the client in filing the claim against an estate. However, he neglected to establish a written fee agreement with the client. In July 2020, Matsunaka gave the green light to proceed with the claim, but four days later, the client received notice from the estate that any claim must be submitted by November 24, 2020.

Despite this deadline, Matsunaka neither filed the client’s claim nor confirmed its submission with his paralegal. In June 2022, Matsunaka erroneously informed the estate’s personal representative that the client’s claim had been filed. When the client sought an update in August 2022, Matsunaka failed to inform her that the claim had not been filed and attempted to submit an untimely notice in late August 2022. Subsequently, the claim was denied as untimely.

The client, discovering the mishandling of her case in October 2022, confronted Matsunaka, who admitted to the untimely filing, denial, and closure of the estate. Matsunaka eventually reimbursed the client $15,000 and agreed to pay an additional $30,193.92.

Matsunaka’s conduct led to violations of professional conduct rules, including negligence (Colo. RPC 1.3), failure to keep the client informed (Colo. RPC 1.4(a)(3)-(4)), failure to explain the matter to the client (Colo. RPC 1.4(b)), failure to inform the client of fees in writing (Colo. RPC 1.5(b)), and engaging in conduct involving dishonesty (Colo. RPC 8.4(c)).

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge has granted a six-month suspension to Matsunaka, but the suspension will be stayed as long as Matsunaka completes a two-year probationary period, starting on February 22, 2024, and satisfies the prescribed conditions.

According to Avvo, Mr. Matsunaka is an election campaign and political law attorney in Loveland, Colorado. He graduated from the University of San Diego in 1979 and acquired his law license in Colorado in the same year.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.