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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 1992, Colin K. Kaufman was appointed as trustee for Charles B. Feldman d/b/a Charles Feldman Investments (CFI) under a bankruptcy plan of reorganization. In that capacity, he was responsible for collecting and distributing to creditors approximately $354,000 from the ongoing business of CFI. Although the money was deposited into Kaufman’s IOLTA trust account, evidence was presented to the jury demonstrating that Kaufman paid most of the monies (at least $278,000) to himself for legal fees and expenses. Additional evidence disclosed that no periodic payments contemplated under the plan of reorganization were ever made; the only other payments Kaufman made were for additional expenses and to other professionals. On Dec. 23, 2002, the Commission for Lawyer Discipline filed a disciplinary petition against Kaufman pursuant to the State Bar Act, complaining that Kaufman’s acts and omissions constituted professional misconduct in violation of the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Conduct. The jury found Kaufman failed to 1. hold client funds separate from his own, 2. render a full accounting of funds, and 3. deliver the funds to the persons entitled to receive the funds. The jury also found that Kaufman had charged or collected an unconscionable fee and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation in connection with the Feldman bankruptcy estate. The trial court found Kaufman in violation of the Texas rules of disciplinary conduct and ordered his immediate disbarrment as well as restitution, attorney fees, expenses and court costs in favor of the Commission. Kaufman appeals the judgment of disbarrment. HOLDING:Affirmed. Kaufman asserts that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because of an earlier decision by the federal court on the same issues. The federal court order addressed allegations of misconduct affecting Kaufman’s federal district court license for the Southern District of Texas and not his Texas law license. The order remanded the case to state court. There is nothing in the record evidencing prior disciplinary action in a state court regarding either the Feldman matter or Kaufman’s Texas license to practice law, the court finds. Kaufman’s principal place of business was located in Nueces County. Consistent with the federal court order, the trial court below had jurisdiction over the purely Texas law matter involving Kaufman’s Texas license to practice law. Res judicata does not apply. Because the court finds that there is evidence to support the jury findings that Kaufman failed to 1. hold the monies separate and apart of his own, 2. render an accounting, 3. promptly deliver the monies, and 4. charged an unconscionable fee, thereby 5. engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation, the court overrules Kaufman’s legal sufficiency challenge. “Kaufman testified that at the time he was the trustee in bankruptcy, he maintained an IOLTA trust account in which he deposited the monies of CFI. However, Kaufman also testified that he paid himself approximately $278,000 of the $354,000 total amount deposited on behalf of CFI. Kaufman admitted that, although he did provide some documentation, he did not provide all information regarding the client’s funds deemed by the bankruptcy court to be necessary and proper as to be considered a full rendering and accounting. When cross-examined, Kaufman acknowledged the billing process in his office was not as perfect as he would have liked it to be. He admitted that the commission’s evidence of his billing to CFI demonstrated he did take substantially all of the money from the trust account of CFI to pay those bills.” The court finds there is factually sufficient evidence of probative force to support the findings of the jury. “When questioned about the lack of safekeeping and poor or no accounting performed on the monies held in his IOLTA account on behalf of CFI, Kaufman admitted taking most of the money to pay his own attorney fees. He acknowledged a less-than-perfect accounting system in his office, and that he was not aware of the exact kind of accounting that CFI sought. He claimed that the paperwork introduced into evidence on his behalf constituted all of the accounting that he had time to collect and put together. He admitted that some of the evidence was prepared specifically for the trial. Kaufman testified that at the time he maintained the IOLTA trust account and monies of CFI, it was his understanding that these monies were designed, for the most part, to pay his attorney fees. He testified that he did not believe the total amount of attorney fees was unreasonable in light of the ten years or so that he represented CFI in court. Although Kaufman acknowledged that there was some double billing of attorney fees for the same work performed month-to-month, his explanation was that the billing procedures in his office were less-than-perfect. However, evidence presented by the Commission established that there was repeated billing each month for the same services rendered. Kaufman acknowledged the redundant billing. He also admitted that this was standard practice in his office.” The sanctions imposed by the trial court on Kaufman are consistent with the factors for consideration set forth in State Bar of Tex. v. Kilpatrick, 928 S.W.2d 659 (Tex. App. Corpus Christi 1996, no writ), the court finds. OPINION:Castillo, J.; Hinojosa, Ya�ez and Castillo, J.J.

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