LOS ANGELES — The State Bar Court of California recently placed Julius Michael Engel, a Sacramento attorney, on a three-year suspension after the court found that the attorney was grossly negligent in two bankruptcy filings.
The order was handed down March 17.
In October 2012, Engel was hired by a couple that was struggling with high medical costs to apply for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. For his services, the couple paid Engel $2,000 in three installments. After all of the documents were signed and the final payments were made, Engel’s office allegedly stopped returning the couple’s phone calls. It was then discovered that Engel had closed his business and not provided any forwarding information.
The couple then hired the attorney who held the office across the hall from Engel to complete their bankruptcy filings and submitted a complaint to the California State Bar. Engel initially said he had not met with the couple, but after contracts were provided to him as proof, he attempted to say that he had been working on the case with the attorney the couple went on to hire, although this was proven false.
The second matter stems from a judgment entered against Engel by a Sacramento court. The judgment stated that Engel’s alleged failure to perform legal services with competence in a bankruptcy filing caused significant harm to his client. The attorney failed to submit the judgment to the California State Bar within 30 days, alleging he did not do so because he was in the process of appealing the ruling.
Due to the nature of the misconduct and the harm caused to his clients, disbarment was recommended and ordered.
Engel, a graduate of the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law, has been a member of the California State Bar since 1988. The attorney had been previously discipline with a six-month suspension in 2016 for co-mingling client and personal funds in his client trust account.