rights in the funds on deposit in the account.
All money was to be paid to Mr. Tafoya for
In addition to not disclosing the bank
account, Mrs. G also omitted many valuable
items of personal property from her schedules.
Mr. Tafoya was not complicit in making the
false or incomplete statements.
The bankruptcy trustee filed adversary proceedings in Mrs. G’s bankruptcy case and asked
for an order denying discharges for her and her
marital community. Mr. Tafoya did not represent her in the adversary proceedings. After
a trial, on January 17, 2011, the bankruptcy
judge denied the discharges. He determined
that Mrs. G’s explanations for why she did not
compose or later amend her bankruptcy schedules accurately, and her efforts to deflect blame
to Mr. G and Mr. Tafoya, were not credible.
Even if one accepts Mr. Tafoya’s claim that
it was well-intentioned albeit ill-advised, but
not deceitful, to open the bank account for the
clients, his conduct prejudiced the administration of justice. Had he looked at his bank statements he would have seen that the clients were
using the bank account for unintended purposes. That would have instigated a pointed conversation with Mrs. G over her prospects for a
successful outcome in her bankruptcy case. Mr.
Tafoya’s failure to examine bank statements
had the ripple effect of immersing the court
and parties to Mrs. G’s bankruptcy case in discovery and litigation, and contributed to the
court’s denial of her discharge.
Mr. Tafoya’s conduct occurred in 2008
and 2009. He was deposed in the adversay
proceedings in 2009. The bankruptcy judge
announced his decision in Mrs. G’s bankruptcy
case in 2011. None of the participants in Mrs.
G’s case (the judge, trustee, counsel for the
trustee, counsel for a creditor in the adversary
proceedings, or Mrs. G) filed bar charges.
Counsel in an unrelated case brought the
charge considerably later, in 2013.
Aggravating factors: Prior disciplinary
offenses; dishonest or selfish motive; pattern of
misconduct; multiple offenses; and substantial
experience in the practice of law.
Mitigating factors: full and free disclosure
to a disciplinary board or cooperative attitude
toward proceedings; remorse; remoteness of
Mr. Tafoya violated Rule 42, ARIZ.R.S.CT.,
specifically ERs 1. 3 and 8. 4(d).
Nearly 17,000 attorneys are eligible
to practice law in Arizona. Many attorneys
share the same names. All discipline
reports should be read carefully for
names, addresses and Bar numbers.
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