Downey attorney exonerated in bankruptcy case allegations

By Karen Kidd | Sep 9, 2017

A disciplinary action against Downey attorney Michael Anthony Rivera, accused of "effectively abandoning" his clients and other wrongdoing in a bankruptcy case, had been dismissed, according to a recent California State Bar decision.

The abandonment allegation against Rivera "is completely contrary to the evidence," said the state bar court decision issued Aug. 11.

"That a bankruptcy petition was never filed was due to the clients’ actions and inaction, not because of any incompetence by [Rivera] or his office, let alone incompetence that was intentional, reckless or repeated," according to the 13-page decision.

Rivera originally was charged with misconduct in two separate client matters but the state bar asked the court in May to dismiss one of those cases, according to the decision and order. In the remaining case, Rivera was accused of failing to act with competition, failing to refund unearned fees and failing to render accounts of client funds, according to the decision.

The state bar court dismissed the contested disciplinary matter with prejudice and exonerated Rivera on all charges.

Rivera was admitted to the bar in California on Dec. 7, 1988, according to his profile at the state bar website.

The state bar filed its notice of disciplinary charges against Rivera in February and the trial in the matter took place in June, according to the decision. The disciplinary case against Rivera arose from a bankruptcy case for which Rivera's clients hired him in March 2010, and for which the clients still retain Rivera, according to the decision.

The clients eventually complained to the state bar that Rivera failed to file a bankruptcy petition, but the clients have not communicated to Rivera "any desire to terminate his services," the decision said.

"For his part, [Rivera] has repeatedly expressed a willingness to go forward with getting their bankruptcy petition filed, so long as they provide the required filing fee, together with the necessary current financial information and documentation," the decision said.

The state bar court's decision means Rivera can file a motion seeking reimbursement from the state bar for the reasonable expenses, other than fees for attorneys or experts, of preparing for trial, according to the decision.

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