Longtime Long Beach attorney faces possible disbarment by default over multiple misconduct counts

By Karen Kidd | Nov 5, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO (Northern California Record) — Longtime Long Beach attorney Stephen Robert Kilstofte faces possible disbarment by default following a recently announced California State Bar Court recommendation after seven counts of misconduct.

Kilstofte was found culpable in allegations that included improper withdrawal of employment, failure to respond to client's status inquiries and failure to inform client of significant developments, according to the eight-page decision and order of involuntary inactive enrollment issued Oct. 1 by the state bar court. Other allegations included failures to release client's field and cooperate in the state bar's investigation.

The state bar's recommendation is pending final action by the California Supreme Court, an appeal before the state bar's review department or expiration of time when parties can request further review within the state bar court.

Kilstofte's recommended discipline was among the dispositions filed earlier this month by the state bar court's hearing department for October.  

The state bar court's recommendation included an involuntary inactive enrollment order that rendered Kilstofte involuntarily enrolled as an inactive member of the State Bar of California. That order was effective three calendar days after service, according to the recommendation.

Kilstofte failed to participate in person or via counsel and state bar's decision and order for disbarment was entered by default. In such cases, in which an attorney fails to participate in a State Bar of California 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 entry for default was entered in April. 

Kilstofte was admitted to the bar in California on May 16, 1978, according to his profile at the state bar website. In a previous discipline in February 2009, Kilstofte, then 58, received a stayed one-year suspension and three years' probation after he admitted to 12 counts of misconduct in five matters, according to information on his state bar profile.

In August 1996, Kilstofte was publicly reproved after being found culpable in five ethical violations in two client matters, including failures to return client's file, client funds into a client trust account and promptly pay client funds, according to the decision and order.

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