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In re Van Spanckeren

Supreme Court of Arizona

July 10, 1956

In the Matter of W. J. VAN SPANCKEREN, Member of the State Bar of Arizona, Respondent.

Mark Wilmer, Phoenix, for respondent.

George Read Carlock, Phoenix, for State Bar.

PER CURIAM.

Disciplinary proceedings were instituted against respondent, as a member of the State Bar of Arizona, before the local administrative committee for district No. 4 of the State Bar. He was charged in two counts with having violated Canons 11 and 21 of the Canons of Professional Ethics of the legal profession as adopted by the American Bar Association and the Supreme Court of Arizona. These Canons read as follows:

'No. 11 'Money of the client or collected for the client or other trust property coming into the possession of the lawyer should be reported and accounted for promptly, and should not under any circumstances be commingled[81 Ariz. 55] with his own or be used by him.'

No. 21 'It is the duty of the lawyer not only to his client, but also to the Courts and to the public to be punctual in attendance, and to be concise and direct in the trial and disposition of causes.'

In haec verba the two charges were:

'1. Violation of Canon 11, in that he, the said W. J. Van Spanckeren, did, during the month of June, 1950, receive from one Clement A. Sample the sum of $1500, plus certain accrued interest, in his capacity as attorney for Lois Mays, Executrix of the Last Will and Testament of James M. Mays, deceased, and did thereafter fail promptly to report and account for the same, and did commingle the same with his own funds.'

'2. Violation of Canon 21, in that having been employed in 1930 by one Eldo Trotter to perform the legal services necessary to the administration of the estate of Willie A. Trotter, deceased and having undertaken said employment, he failed to use proper expedition and direction in performing said services, and had not completed the performance of said services at the time of his discharge from such employment in 1952.'

The local administrative committee found respondent guilty on both counts, and recommended to the Board of Governors of the State Bar that as to each count respondent be disciplined by suspension as a member of the State Bar for not less than one year. The Board of Governors approved the findings of the local administrative

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committee, and recommended to this court that notwithstanding the recommendation of the local administrative committee for suspension for one year the respondent be merely reprimanded.

Count I.

As to court 1, the facts briefly are that in March, 1950, respondent was employed to probate the estate of James M. Mays by his surviving wife who acted as executrix. The will was admitted to probate and an inventory and appraisal filed which showed an estate of somewhat over $53,000 plus an additional joint savings account of $10,000.

Included in the assets of the estate was a note and realty mortgage which had originally belonged to respondent but which he had sold to James M. Mays shortly prior to his death, upon which there was an unpaid balance due of $1,500, plus accrued interest.

Shortly after or at the time the inventory was filed, Mrs. Mays inquired as to the legal fees involved and respondent advised [81 Ariz. 56] her as to the usual percentage charge. Mrs. Mays considered the fee set as excessive but gave respondent $500 to apply on the fee in addition to a ...


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