On Wednesday, January 17, 2024, the Supreme Court of California suspended attorney Cristina Marie Brooks-Montgomery for 90 days for mishandling client funds.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Cristina Marie Brooks-Montgomery,” with case no. S282741.

According to the Notice of Disciplinary Charges, the State Bar of California had filed six counts of misconduct against Brooks-Montgomery arising from her representation of two clients. In September 2021, Brooks-Montgomery received $4,000 in advanced fees from client Helen Martinez to represent her in a family law matter but failed to promptly provide Martinez with a written accounting of funds or refund the unearned portion of fees after Martinez terminated the representation in July 2022.

Additionally, in March 2020 Brooks-Montgomery received $3,500 in advanced fees from client Linda Hurd for a family law matter. However, she did not inform Hurd that the court had rejected a proposed judgment filing in February 2022 and failed to promptly provide a written accounting of funds to Hurd after the representation ended in March 2022.

The State Bar further alleged that in September 2022 Brooks-Montgomery withdrew funds from her client trust account to pay personal expenses such as a wireless bill. She was also accused of depositing $5,000 of her own funds into the client’s trust account in January 2022.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court suspended Brooks-Montgomery from practicing law for two years but stayed the suspension and placed her on probation for two years. She is required to serve an actual 90-day suspension at the start of her probation. Brooks-Montgomery must also comply with additional probation terms. If she satisfies all probation conditions over the two-year period, the stayed two-year suspension will be terminated. The Court further imposed monetary sanctions requiring payments to the State Bar’s Client Security Fund.

According to avvo.com, Ms Brooks-Montgomery is an attorney in Lompoc, California. She attended the Pepperdine University School of Law. She acquired her law license in California in 2003.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.