On Thursday, June 15, 2023, the Supreme Court of California suspended attorney David Gutierrez for eight counts of misconduct including failure to maintain a sufficient balance in his client’s trust account.
The case is entitled “In the matter of David Gutierrez” with case no. and was bought by the State Bar of California with case no. S279391.
The respondent faced eight charges of misconduct in a disciplinary notice dated September 30, 2022. The first charge was about not keeping enough money in his client’s trust account. The second charge was about taking his client’s money from a settlement. The third charge was about writing a bad check. The fourth charge was about taking money from another client’s settlement. The fifth charge was about lying when he gave out settlement money without having enough funds. The sixth and seventh charges were about using his client’s trust account money for his own expenses. The eighth charge was about not keeping proper records of his client’s funds and property.
The notice of disciplinary charges states:
“Between on or about May 8, 2018, and August 31, 2018, respondent willfully and intentionally misappropriated settlement funds that respondent’s client, Gonzalo Perez, was entitled to receive, including $14,734.16 in funds belonging to the client on July 12, 2018, as set forth below. Respondent thereby committed an act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption in willful violation of Business and Professions Code, section 6106.”
The notice of disciplinary charges continues:
“Between or about August 3, 2018, and August 24, 2018, the respondent willfully and intentionally misappropriated $8,403.09 in entrusted funds that the respondent’s clients were entitled to receive, after paying respondent’s client Gladys Daniels her $7,055.23 share of the settlement and paying himself $14,000 in fees and costs purportedly earned and incurred in the Gladys Daniels matter. Respondent thereby committed an act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption in willful violation of the Business and Professions Code, section 6106. A violation of section 6106 may result from intentional conduct or grossly negligent conduct. Respondent is charged with committing an intentional misappropriation.”
The notice of disciplinary charges further states:
“Between on or about February 26, 2018, July 25, 2018, and August 21, 2018, respondent received on behalf of respondent’s clients, Gonzalo Perez, Gladys Daniels, and Raquel Flores, respectively, settlement checks from Liberty Mutual Insurance in the amount of $60,000 (Gonzalo Perez), Esurance Property and Casualty Insurance Company in the amount of $12,652.14 (Gladys Daniels), and from MetLife Auto and Home in the amount of for $18,244.47 (Raquel Flores), each made payable to respondent and the respective clients.”
Attorney David Gutierrez responded to the notice of disciplinary charges by admitting to some of the allegations and denying others. He admitted to the allegations in Count one but denied those in count two. He admitted some and denied others in count four. He denied the allegations in Counts three, five, six, seven, and Eight as well.
The stipulation of facts dated March 13, 2023, said that the State Bar Hearing Department looked at several things that could reduce the punishment for the respondent, such as no previous bad behavior, good reputation, helping the community, and working with the investigators. But because the respondent did something very wrong and did it many times, the State Bar thinks he should lose his license to practice law. Instead of that, the State Bar suggests a long time of not being able to work as a lawyer, which is one year of not working, to make sure the public is safe and still trusts lawyers. Also, the respondent has to take an online course on the rules and laws for lawyers in California within 90 days after the Supreme Court decides what to do with him. He gives up any rights to keep his information private in this agreement and agrees that any information that is secret can be shared without hiding or protecting it.
The Supreme Court decided that Gutierrez cannot work as a lawyer in California for two years, but that punishment is put on hold, and Gutierrez has to follow some conditions for two years. These conditions are:
1. Respondent is suspended from the practice of law for a minimum of the first year of probation, and Respondent will remain suspended until providing proof to the State Bar Court of rehabilitation, fitness to practice, and present learning and ability in the general law. (Rules Proc. of State Bar, tit. IV, Stds. for Atty. Sanctions for Prof. Misconduct, std.
2. Respondent must also comply with the other conditions of probation recommended by the Hearing Department of the State Bar Court in its Order Approving Stipulation filed on March 13, 2023.
3. At the expiration of the period of probation, if Respondent has complied with all conditions of probation, the period of stayed suspension will be satisfied and that suspension will be terminated.
Mr. Gutierrez is a lawyer in Chula Vista, California. He was licensed in California with license no. 177811, His info can be found on apps.calbar.ca.gov.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.