On Tuesday, October 11, 2022, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge ruled on charges of attorney discipline against Phoenix attorney Joseph N. Mendoza alleging Misconduct. 

The case is entitled “In the matter of Joseph N. Mendoza, Esq.” and was brought by the State Bar of Arizona. Case #022-9032.

The charges cited rules of professional conduct Rule 42: ERs 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.15, 1.16, 3.2, 8.4(d), and Rule 54(d): 1.3.

The rules of professional conduct can be found here.

The following are as alleged and summarized from the filing: 

Respondent violated numerous duties owed to his clients and abandoned multiple clients. 

The following aggravating factors have been established:

1.9.22(a) prior disciplinary offenses–suspension in PDJ 2021-9084

2.9.22(b) dishonest or selfish motive–failure to issue refunds for unearned fees

3.9.22(c) a pattern of misconduct–Respondent abandoned his law practice and multiple clients

4.9.22(e) bad faith obstruction of the disciplinary proceedings by intentionally failing to comply with rules or orders  of the disciplinary agency–Respondent repeatedly failed to respond to bar charges or comply with the State Bar’s requests for I information

5,9.22(i) substantial experience in the practice of law–Respondent was admitted in2004

6.9.22(j) indifference to making restitution

The filing states:

‘On Count one, Due to Respondent’s failure to comply with discovery obligations in. In Casillas’s case, on May 3, 2021, the defense counsel filed both a motion for sanctions and a separate motion for summary disposition. In the motion for sanctions, the defense counsel recited her unsuccessful attempts to communicate with Respondent regarding his discovery deficiencies.

On Count 2, in March of 2019, Annette Marble hired Respondent in a family law case. Respondent periodically performed work in. Marble’s case but never billed her.16.In September 2021, Respondent began presentingMs.Marble with large invoices and threatened to withdraw if failed to pay them. Over a six-week period during the fall of 2021, Ms. Marble paid Respondent $9,100.00.17.When Ms.Marble attempted to contact Respondent to prepare for an October 18, 2021 hearing, Respondent failed to respond. Around this time Respondent abandoned his law office.’

The filing continues:

‘On Count three, Respondent collected $10,000.00over the course of the representation of a client. However, Respondent informed Ms.Wynn that he would not be continuing with the representation due to health problems, and he abandoned his law office.

On Count four,  Romona Breault hired Respondent to bring a claim against her insurer. Respondent collected $5,000.00 at the start of the representation. Respondent filed a civil complaint in accordance with that case. Respondent then took no further action. In October 2021, Respondent abandoned his law office and stopped communicating with the client. Respondent did not issue a refund and did not file a motion to withdraw.’

The filing further alleges that:

‘On Count 5,  Frank Rifi hired Respondent in a family law case. Mr.Rifi paid Respondent approximately $5,900.00 over the course of the representation. On August 6, 2021, after filing a response to the opposing party’s request for registration of a foreign judgment, the Respondent stopped communicating with Mr.Rifi. Lastly, on Count six, a client named Timothy Shilling hired Respondent for representation in a family law case Respondent collected $5,000.00at the start of the representation. After filing an amended response to a motion, the Respondent stopped communicating with Mr.Shilling. Shortly thereafter, Respondentabandoned his law office.’

Based on the foregoing, the hearing panel orders the disbarment of the respondent.

The Disposition states:

‘It is, therefore, ordered that Joseph N. Mendoza, Bar No. 022238, be disbarred, effective August 9, 2022, and his name is stricken from the roll of lawyers in Arizona. Respondent is no longer entitled to the rights and privileges of a lawyer but remains subject to the jurisdiction of the Arizona Supreme Court

As of today, Mr. Mendoza is listed on the website of the law firm West, Elsberry, Longenbaugh & Zickerman, P.L.L.C. as a practicing attorney. His info can be found on Linkedin. Mendoza practices in Phoenix, Arizona. He has been licensed in Arizona, license #022238.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.