SAN FRANCISCO -- The State Bar Court of California ruled to disbar Los Angeles attorney Kristen Marie Shuh from the practice of law Dec. 29, 2016. The decision stems from two charges of misconduct against the attorney, 42, involving her alleged failure to communicate with a client about funds received on their behalf in a settlement.
Court documents state Shuh was originally charged on five counts of misconduct in a single client matter but later had three charges dismissed and/or combined. The notice of disciplinary charges (NDC) mailed to the address the attorney provided in her State Bar membership records, Shuh failed to alert a client when she had received a bond refund in the amount of $19,327.70. Shuh was initially charged with failure to maintain the balance of $19,327.70, but the Office of the Chief Trial Counsel (OCTC) could not find sufficient supporting evidence of such misconduct.
Shuh was also charged with misappropriating her client’s funds but, again, sufficient evidence was not provided and the charge was dismissed. The attorney was also investigated for providing false statements to her client regarding the receipt of funds, but the charge could not be proven. However, the fifth charge of failing to cooperate with disciplinary proceedings was deemed admissible.
The OCTC sent an NDC to the address the attorney provided on Aug. 27, 2015, alerting Shuh of the disciplinary proceedings. The notice clearly stated that failure to comply with the proceedings would result in a recommendation of disbarment but Shuh continued to ignore the NDC even after one was hand delivered by a member of the State Bar in October 2015.
In fact, the attorney allegedly told the investigator who delivered her NDC that Shuh was not interest in participating in the proceedings. When the attorney failed to enter a response, a default was entered in November 2015, and the OCTC recommended disbarment.
Shuh will be required to comply with the California Rules of Court Rule 9.20 subsections (a) and (c) in regards to his suspension. The rules require Shuh to notify all her clients of the ruling, deliver any papers necessary to clients in regards to their cases, return any fees that remain unearned and alert opposing counsel in any pending litigation of her disbarment. Shuh must then file with the clerk of the State Bar Court that she has complied with the provisions of her disbarment.
The attorney will be responsible for covering all court costs. The initial costs are subject to increase, in which case Shuh will need to pay the additional fees.
Shuh was admitted to the State Bar of California in 2006 after graduating from the Southwestern University School of Law. She had no prior record of discipline.
The California State Bar was established in 1927 by the state’s legislature and is governed by 19 trustees. The State Bar Court added appointed full-time judges in 1989. Court documents for all State Bar Court of California cases can be found online at calbar.ca.gov.