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In April 2023, a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigator saw Peter Menges driving erratically, weaving over fog lanes, abruptly changing lanes without signaling, braking late and narrowly missing a median, according to the opinion.
Menges was slow to pull over and once he did, he was slow to place the vehicle in park, the opinion noted. Menges had trouble following the officer’s directions, smelled of alcohol, appeared drowsy and had trouble making coherent statements. He refused roadside maneuvers and a blood or breath test. Menges pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired as a first offense and was sentenced to probation.
Through this conduct, the opinion said Menges violated Colorado Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(b).
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ stipulation to discipline and publicly censured Menges, taking into account the fact Menges is already required to petition for reinstatement to the practice of law as a sanction in another disciplinary case. The public censure took effect Sept. 25.
According to the opinion, in 2021 John Buckley represented a client charged with driving under the influence. The client paid Buckley a $4,000 flat-fee in May 2021. The flat-fee agreement included benchmarks for preparing for and representing the client at preliminary hearings and for work performed up to and including sentencing or the case’s dismissal.
The opinion said throughout the case, Buckley failed to respond to the client’s reasonable requests for information. He also didn’t adequately consult with his client about the criminal matter, including the possibility and advisability of entering a guilty plea and participating in a multiple offender program that could lead to a significantly reduced jail sentence.
The opinion added, further Buckley didn’t inform his client about the conditions of the client’s bond, including the requirement the client participate in monitored sobriety. In addition, though Buckley’s representation included preparing for and attending his client’s driver’s license revocation hearing before the Department of Motor Vehicles, Buckley failed to request the hearing and failed to notify his client that the client’s license had been revoked.
The client terminated the representation before the case concluded, the opinion added. Because Buckley hadn’t completed two benchmarks corresponding to 45% of his client’s fee, he knew he hadn’t earned a portion of his client’s fee when the representation ended, and he knew his client hadn’t authorized him to take or use all of the funds.
The opinion continued noting Buckley didn’t refund any money to his client. Instead, Buckley depleted his trust account, knowing his client’s money was in his trust account. During the investigation in this matter, Buckley knew disciplinary authorities had requested his financial and trust account records, but he didn’t provide the requested information.
The opinion said Buckley’s conduct violated multiple Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct.
Following a sanctions hearing, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge disbarred Buckley. The disbarment took effect Sept. 26.