Oakland attorney disbarred after failure to attend disciplinary hearings

By Kerry Goff | Aug 18, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO – Reginald von Terrell, an attorney who practiced in Oakland, was disbarred May 28 after his default was entered for failing to appear at his disciplinary trial.

The court said Terrell did not seek to have the default set aside or vacated within 45 days as required under the State Bar’s Rules of Procedure, after he was accused of failing to maintain client funds in trust, engaged in moral turpitude, made misrepresentations to a client and failed to cooperate with a State Bar investigation.

“(Terrell) was ordered to pay $89,314.09 plus interest in restitution,” the official Oct. 20, 2015, court document said.

He had been disciplined on two prior occasions. In 1995, he received a public reprove for failing to deposit client funds in trust and failing to promptly pay out client funds. In 1997, he was publicly reproved again for not complying with the terms surrounding his earlier discipline.

In this matter, Terrell was charged with eight counts of misconduct stemming from a single client matter. Then he failed to appear at the trial of this case and his default was entered. Because of his lack of compliance, the court concluded that the requirements of Rule 5.85 have been satisfied, and therefore, grants the petition and recommends that respondent be disbarred from the practice of law.

“On Feb. 18, 2015, the State Bar filed and properly served a notice of disciplinary charges (NDC) on (Terrell) at his membership records address by certified mail, return receipt requested,” the document said. “The NDC notified (him) that his failure to appear at the State Bar court trial would result in a disbarment recommendation.”

The court document further explained that Terrell appeared in court for the initial status conference and filed his response to the NDC. He also appeared in court for the pre-trial conference. Trial was set to begin on June 25, 2015, but Terrell did not show.

“Finding that all of the requirements of rule 5.81(A) were satisfied, the court issued and properly served an order entering respondent’s default that same day,” the court said. “The order notified respondent that if he did not timely move to set aside or vacate his default, the court would recommend his disbarment."

The State Bar reported in its petition that it had not had any direct contact with Terrell since his default was entered, he had other disciplinary matters pending, he had a prior record of discipline and the Client Security Fund has not made any payments resulting from Terrell’s misconduct.

“(Terrell) has not responded to the petition for disbarment or moved to set aside or vacate the default,” the State Bar said. “The case was submitted for decision on Sept. 14, 2015.”

The court explained that Terrell was disciplined on two prior occasions. In one matter, Terrell stipulated to failing to deposit client funds in trust and failing to promptly pay out client funds. In the other matter, he was again publicly reproved with conditions of failing to comply with the conditions of his previous public disapproval.

“Based on the (provided evidence), the court concludes that the requirements of rule 5.85(F) have been satisfied, and (Terrell’s) disbarment is recommended,” the court said.

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