Hidden Valley Lake attorney disbarred for failing to adhere to terms of suspension

By Olivia Olsen | May 9, 2017

LOS ANGELES — The State Bar Court of California recently disbarred Thomas Melvin Swihart, a Hidden Valley Lake attorney, from the practice of law. 

The March 31 order was the result of the attorney’s alleged failure to adhere to the terms of a previous suspension order. 

In January 2014, Swihart was placed on a two-year probation with a six-month suspension after being found guilty of two charges of misconduct. In both client matters, Swihart did not adequately file skeleton petitions in bankruptcy proceedings.

As part of the suspension order, the attorney was required to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), pay sanctions and comply with Rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court, which states that a suspended or disbarred attorney must inform all clients and opposing counsel of their status and are prevented from taking on new clients. 

On Sept. 6, 2015, Swihart was found culpable of violating his probation order by failing to pay $5,200 in sanctions and for not providing quarterly reports to the California State Bar’s Office of Probation. The state bar revoked his probation and enacted the original two-year suspension, which had previously been stayed to six months. 

During the two-year suspension, Swihart allegedly failed to provide proof of following Rule 9.20, according to the decision released by the California State Bar Court. The attorney also failed to respond to inquiries made by the state bar. A notice of disciplinary charges (NDC) was sent to Swihart in February 2016, followed by several other contact attempts. As a result, a default was entered on his behalf. 

Swihart was admitted to the California State Bar in 1981 following his graduation from the Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles. He had no prior record of discipline beyond the original suspension order in 2014. 

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