Court Opinions: Presiding Disciplinary Judge Opinions for December 2022

Editor’s Note: Law Week Colorado edits court opinion summaries for style and, when necessary, length.

People v. Brenda L. Storey

During a marriage dissolution proceeding, Brenda Storey allegedly pressured her client to raise money to pay her legal fee by selling furniture and other marital property. Storey did so without advising her client of the possible risks to her client’s case. Storey’s client offered to pay Storey’s bill with a tax refund check for $47,578.43. The check was jointly issued to the client and the client’s husband, who was the opposing party in the litigation. But the client didn’t’ disclose the check’s existence to the opposing party. Storey deposited the check into her trust account without counseling her client about the potential effect on the litigation and without investigating why the check was issued. 

In the month that followed, Storey transferred the check’s funds into her operating account to pay her earned fees. But Storey didn’t advise her client to disclose the check to the opposing party despite the check’s materiality to salient issues in the case, including settlement negotiations and disputes over legal fees. During this time, Storey’s client sought Storey’s advice about disclosing the check. Storey didn’t respond for eight days, at which time she told her client to do whatever the client wished.

On remand from the Colorado Supreme Court, a hearing board suspended Storey from the practice of law for one year and one day. The suspension took effect Dec. 15. To be reinstated to the practice of law in Colorado, Storey must prove by clear and convincing evidence that she has been rehabilitated, has complied with all disciplinary orders and rules and is fit to practice law.

W. Bradley Betterton-Fike v. People

In April 2020, W. Bradley Betterton-Fike was suspended from the practice of law for eight months. Under the conditions of his suspension, Betterton-Fike was required to petition for reinstatement should he want to practice in Colorado again.   

Betterton-Fike was suspended because he was convicted of physically assaulting his wife, which constituted criminal conduct that reflected adversely on his fitness as a lawyer. 

Betterton-Fike petitioned for reinstatement of his license. The hearing board concluded reinstatement wasn’t appropriate because Betterton-Fike failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he is fit to practice law and that he has been rehabilitated from his underlying misconduct.

Following a reinstatement hearing, a hearing board denied Betterton-Fike reinstatement to the practice of law.

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