Northern California Record

Thursday, November 21, 2019

San Diego attorney faces disbarment over 19 counts of misconduct


By Karen Kidd | Jan 3, 2019

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SAN FRANCISCO (Northern California Record) — San Diego attorney Steele Nicolson Gillaspey faces possible disbarment by default following a  recently announced California State Bar Court recommendation over 19 counts of alleged misconduct in three underlying matters.

Gillaspey is alleged to have violated professional conduct rules, including those regarding competence and improper withdrawal and failures to communicate, respond promptly to status inquiries, render appropriate accounts to a client and refund unearned fees.

In addition to his disbarment, the state bar court also recommended Gillaspey be ordered to pay restitution of almost $21,239 to one client and $10,000 to another, according to the 11-page decision and order of involuntary inactive enrollment issued Dec. 14 by the state bar court. The court also recommend Gillaspey be ordered to pay all costs in the matter.

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.

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

The state bar court's recommendation included an involuntary inactive enrollment order that rendered Gillaspey 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.

Gillaspey failed to participate in person or via counsel and state bar's decision and order for disbarment was entered by default. In such cases, when 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 August.

Gillaspey was admitted to the bar in California on March 13, 1990, according to his profile at the state bar website. Gillaspey had no prior record of discipline, no other investigations or disciplinary matters are pending against him and the client security fund has paid no claims as a result of his alleged misconduct, according to the decision and order.

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