West Covina attorney faces suspension, probation for allegedly mishandling marriage dissolution case

By Karen Kidd | May 16, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO – West Covina attorney Gabriel Castellanos faces suspension and probation following an April 26 California Supreme Court order after he allegedly failed to inform his client that her divorce was final, according to a recent report issued by the State Bar of California and court documents.

The Supreme Court handed down a stayed two-year suspension and two years of conditional probation with the first six month spent on suspension. Conditions of Castellanos' probation include passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination as previously recommended by the California State Bar Court's Hearing Department.

Castellanos also was ordered to pay costs.

Castellanos' discipline will be effective Sunday, May 26, according to an announcement recently posted on the state bar's website.

Castellanos was admitted to the bar in California on Dec. 3, 2003, according to his profile at the state bar website. Castellanos had no prior record of discipline listed on his profile.

Allegations against Castellanos stem from a marriage dissolution case in which he was hired in April 2012 to represent one of the parties in the divorce, according to the 30-page decision issued in December by the State Bar Court. Among other things, Castellanos allegedly failed to notify his client for more than two years that he had received an equalization payment from the other spouse of $20,000, which he deposited into his client trust account when it arrived. Castellanos also allegedly didn't tell his client until May of 2014 that the court ordered a judgment of dissolution and terminated her marital status in March 2013.

Charges against Castellanos included three counts of moral turpitude for misrepresentations to a financial institution, a client and to the office of chief trial counsel, failure to inform a client of a significant development and improperly settling a professional malpractice claim. Catellanos stipulated to six of the six of the seven counts but the State Bar Court found "clear and convincing evidence" that Castellano was culpable on all counts, the decision said.  

The State Bar Court treated as a mitigating circumstance "extreme emotional problems before and during the time of his misconduct," including his father's diagnosis with cancer in February 2013, according to the decision.

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