SAN FRANCISCO (Northern California Record) — Santa Ana attorney K. D. Hughes-Cione faces possible disbarment following a recently announced California State Bar Court recommendation over serious misconduct in multiple client matters.
"In view of her serious misconduct, as well as the evidence in aggravation and mitigation, the court recommends disbarment and other requirements," said the 28-page decision and order of involuntary inactive enrollment issued Nov. 13 by the state bar court.
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 in which parties can request further review within the state bar court. Hughes-Cione's recommended discipline was among the dispositions filed earlier this month by the state bar court's hearing department for November.
Hughes-Cione was admitted to the bar in California on Dec. 5, 2000, according to her profile at the state bar website. Hughes-Cione had no prior discipline before the state bar, according to her profile.
"[Hughes-Cione] practiced law for nearly 14 years before she engaged in acts of misconduct, but they are serious," the decision and order said.
The state bar court found Hughes-Cione culpable in 12 of the 13 counts against her in five client matters, according to the decision and order. The counts included acquiring interest adverse to a client, entering into an unfair business transaction with a client, seeking to mislead the court and charging an unconscionable fee. The office of chief trial counsel and Hughes-Cione stipulated to dismissal with prejudice on a single count of avoiding interests adverse to a client.
The charges arose from allegations of misconduct that included entering into fee agreements adverse to the clients' interest and overcharging for legal fees. In one client matter, Hughes-Cione allegedly took $25,000 from a $35,000 settlement, in addition to the client's four parcels of land that had been intended as collateral.
Hughes-Cione allegedly "angrily abandoned" another client and tossed that client's files into an outdoor trash bin from which Hughes-Cione's then office manager had to retrieve them, the decision and order said.
Hughes-Cione has expressed no remorse and blamed her office staff for fraudulent invoices that had been filed and her clients "for trying to take advantage of her," the decision and order said.