SAN FRANCISCO — Torrance attorney David Paul Hutchens faces disbarment by default following a State Bar of California recommendation after he was charged with seven counts of misconduct in a single client matter.
The state bar court recommended Hutchens be disbarred and that he be ordered to pay $18,423 plus interest to his former client, according to the eight-page decision and order of involuntary inactive enrollment issued Feb. 21 by the state bar court.
Three "non-public disciplinary matters" also are pending against Hutchens, and the state bar's client security fund has one unpaid claim pending as a result of his alleged misconduct, according to the decision.
Hutchens failed to participate in person or via counsel, and the state bar's decision and order for disbarment was entered by default. In such cases, in which an attorney fails to participate in a California State Bar disciplinary proceeding despite adequate notice and opportunity, the bar invokes Rule 5.85, which provides the procedure for the state bar to recommend an attorney’s disbarment.
The state bar's decision is pending final action by the California Supreme Court, an appeal before the state bar's review department or expiration of time in which parties may request further review within the state bar court.
Hutchens' recommended discipline was among the dispositions filed earlier this month by the state bar court's hearing department for February.
Hutchens was admitted to the bar in California on June 3, 1997, according to his profile at the state bar website. He had no prior record of discipline before the state bar, according to his profile and the state bar court's decision.
Hutchens was alleged to have violated court rules regarding moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption after he convinced his now former client to entrust him with $18,423 "based on false pretenses and thereafter failing to disgorge the funds," the decision said.
Allegations against Hutchens included failing to perform legal services with competence, charging and collecting an illegal fee, improper withdrawal from employment, failing to comply with a court order, and failing to cooperate with a state bar in a disciplinary investigation, according to the decision.