At The Brod Law Firm, we take our responsibility to our clients seriously. Clients should be able to trust that their legal counsel is trustworthy and will always operate in the client’s best interest. In addition to serving our clientele in an ethical manner, we help people who have been harmed due to legal malpractice in San Francisco and other Northern California communities.
The Oakland Tribune reported this week that the State Bar of California recommended disbarment for Walnut Creek attorney Eugene Hannon, also a decorated Vietnam War veteran, after finding he misappropriated over $28,000 of client trust funds for personal use. Hannon represented the father of three, who agreed to deposit $55,000 into a trust for the children as part of a dissolution agreement for an unmarried Alameda couple. The man sent Hannon more than $28,000 in monthly payments during 2007, money that the minor children expected to put towards their college educations. According to the Judge Lucy Armendariz’s ruling, Hammond spent the money on himself rather than placing it in the trust. In addition to misappropriation, the court found Hammond culpable of three counts of moral turpitude for overdrafting the trust account, bouncing three checks, and lying to the mother’s counsel by saying that he hadn’t spent the money.
Hannon admitted to much of the alleged behavior but said he was careless and did not intentionally spend the trust funds. He claimed that a number of health and mental problems contributed to his behavior. According to his attorney, he suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress stemming from his service in the Vietnam War from 1966 to 1969. Hannon nearly died from an intestinal blockage and suffered additional stress due to a house fire. Other health woes cited as causes included alcoholism and depression. Despite the cited woes, Hammond had a clean record for more than 28 years as a litigation attorney.
At the State Bar hearing, the Judge called Hannon’s misappropriation a “grievous breach of an attorney’s ethical responsibility.” The misappropriation of an amount greater than $25,000 is deemed a major violation by the State Bar, meaning it warrants placing a consumer alert on the lawyer’s online profile. Taken in combination with the other findings, officials will place Hannon on the inactive list, meaning he is not allowed to practice law in the state. His attorney has until this weekend to file a motion to postpone the inactive order and thirty days to appeal the disbarment recommendation. Ultimately, it is up to the California Supreme Court whether Hannon will lose his law license. He is also facing a lawsuit by the children’s mother seeking to recoup the money lost. No money has yet been returned.
While the State Bar and State Supreme Court determine an attorney’s professional fate, it is the civil court system that allows clients to seek damages to repair the impact of those wrongs. Our San Francisco/Oakland legal malpractice lawyer understands the complexity of these claims. If you have suffered due to an attorney’s mistake or ethical violation, please call our firm. We can help.