party’s attorney’s fees. Mr. Steimel did not
inform his client of the sanctions order for
nearly a month after it had been issued, and
failed to compensate the client for the Rule 11
Aggravating factors: a pattern of misconduct, substantial experience in the practice of
law, and prior disciplinary offenses.
Mitigating factor: full and free disclosure to
the disciplinary board.
Mr. Steimel violated Rule 42, ARIZ.R.S.CT.,
specifically ERs 1. 1, 1. 3, 1. 4, 1. 5, 3. 1, 4. 4(a),
and 8. 4(d).
MICHAEL G. TAFOYA
Bar No. 018655; File No. 13-1703
PDJ No. 2015-9027
By judgment and order dated April 10, 2015,
the presiding disciplinary judge accepted an
agreement for discipline by consent by which
Michael G. Tafoya, Maricopa, was reprimanded. Mr. Tafoya also was assessed the costs and
expenses of the disciplinary proceeding of
Mr. Tafoya’s clients (Mr. and Mrs. G, a married couple) were unable to open a bank
account. Any money in their accounts was subject to collection by their creditors. Mr. Tafoya
opened a bank account in his name but to
which the clients had access to deposit funds to
finance their many litigated cases. He did not
monitor the account, read bank statements,
reconcile the account, deposit any of his own
funds into the account, or use the account
for his own personal expenses. When Mr. G
deposited money to pay Mr. Tafoya’s bills, he
was told that Mr. Tafoya and the latter withdrew money and moved it to his business
account. Otherwise, he claimed that he had no
need to know how much money was in the
account, or to review bank statements. He
regarded them as “out of sight, out of mind.”
More than $500,000 passed into and out of
the account. The clients used the money for
personal purposes unrelated to their legal cases.
During the period in question, most of the
legal work that Mr. Tafoya did was for these
clients. Mr. G gave him a suite in his office and
Mr. Tafoya worked there three days each week.
If the clients wanted to see a bank statement,
Mr. Tafoya opened the electronic statement on
a computer at Mr. G’s office.
Mr. Tafoya represented Mrs. G in a bankruptcy case. She did not disclose the bank
account, the deposits into the account, or the
many personal transactions out of the account.
Mr. Tafoya contended that Mrs. G was not
required to list the bank account in her bankruptcy petition and schedules, even though
Schedule B( 2) requires disclosure of accounts
owned by the debtor. Mrs. G was a signer on
the account, but not an owner, and as envisioned she was not to have any ownership
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