State Bar Trash-Cans Sleazy Lawyer's Resignation Letter, Gives Him The Boot Instead Amid Probe Into Allegations That He Ripped Off Thou$and$ From Clients, Blaming Secretary In One Incident; Local Prosecutors Say No Criminal Charges Pending
- An attorney who had been practicing law for 35 years was disbarred after allegations came to light that he’d misappropriated thousands of dollars that should have gone to his clients.(1)
[Last] month the California State Bar announced its decision to disbar Walter Lee Davis, who had a law office in Brentwood, after accusing him of violating the state’s rules of professional conduct and the business and professions code 13 times. The charges say Davis lied to two clients and took approximately $11,000 that should have gone to them.
On top of those charges, state officials are investigating a client’s complaint that Davis misappropriated an additional $47,000.
Davis could not be reached for comment. Phone calls to his Brentwood offices yielded a voice mail message that said the line had been disconnected.
Two days before state officials were set to decide on a penalty for Davis, he submitted a letter of resignation. It was rejected after state officials noted, “(Davis) is charged with serious acts of misconduct, including the misappropriation of funds, and is being investigated for further serious acts of misconduct.”
After Davis failed to show up to a January 2016 state bar hearing, his case was entered into default and state officials recommended his right to practice law be revoked, records show. That was finalized late last year.
Before these allegations surfaced, Davis had a discipline-free history as a lawyer, according to state bar records.
Davis was charged with taking money from a client he represented in a personal injury matter. In August 2014, Davis allegedly signed a release to receive a $9,000 settlement check, then failed to tell his client about the money. The client was entitled to $6,000 of the settlement, but never received it.
When confronted, Davis allegedly blamed the misappropriation on his secretary. The next month, he allegedly failed to tell another client of a $7,800 settlement, and failed to pay the client $5,200 he was owed.
Contra Costa prosecutors say no charges are pending against Davis. The state bar can refer certain cases to prosecuting agencies if it sees fit, but that’s rare.
For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
- Directory Of Lawyers' Funds For Client Protection (February 2017) (now includes Canadian recovery funds, courtesy of the American Bar Association);
- Check the USA Client Protection Funds Map;
- Check the Canada Client Protection Funds Map.