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N Cal Attorney
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My husband's attorney signed my husband's signature of the

Customer Question

My husband's attorney signed my husband's signature of the divorce petition and paperwork. His attorney admitted she signed my husband's name on the documents and she did not have power of attorney documents, but rather numerous emails from her client authorizing her to do so. Is this an ethics code violation? My attorney and the judge seem to think it is a serious violation and now the judge wants my attorney to find the code that was violated. This case is in California. Does anyone know the California Rules of Professional Conduct or State Bar Act - Business & Professions Code that was violated?
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 4 months ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

As you probably know, the Rules of Professional Conduct are written broadly. I don't necessarily agree that the attorney violated any rules since, based upon your facts, they had express permission of their client to sign their name.

However, if there was a breach of a rule it would be Rule 5-200 (A) or (B), which you can see at http://rules.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/10/documents/2015_CaliforniaRulesofProfessionalConduct.pdf

As you can see, those sections deal with telling the court the truth and being careful not to misrepresent anything to the court.

If your question has been answered then I'd offer my best wishes to you and ask that you please not forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work.

Of course, please feel free to ask any follow up questions in this thread. I want to be sure that all of your questions are answered. In addition, once you issue your Positive Rating the question will lock open and no longer time out so you can come back to it anytime in the future if you think of any follow ups.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I don't agree that this is the correct code violation as it has nothing to do with the question I asked in regards ***** ***** attorney signing her client's name on his divorce petition and other documents. The code you provided to me to look at has nothing to do with this question nor does it pertain specifically to an attorney violating a ethics code for signing for a client. I have talked to numerous attorneys regarding this and all have said that an attorney is not supposed to sign a clients signature without having a notarized power of attorney document allowing them to do so. I have spoken to lawyers who have 50 years experience and they have never seen or heard of an attorney that would do so. The judge even stated to my attorney and myself that she believed this to be a serious offense and asked that we provide her with the ethics code violation on our next hearing date on August 9th, 2016. I spoke to another attorney today that told me to look at the State Bar for violation pertaining to Power of Attorney... I am sorry but the violation you listed has nothing to do with illegal signature so I request another answer.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 4 months ago.

I will opt out and let someone else try and assist you. Simply because a judge said that they believe something doesn't mean it is so, else cases would never be reversed.

There are no codes that are going to apply specifically or that specifically address an attorney signing for a client and this is the one that is closest in principle.

Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 4 months ago.

New Expert here.

http://ethics.calbar.ca.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=RQqcpKapkWQ%3D&tabid=838

states:

"A client can authorize an attorney to perform those ministerial acts necessary to conclude a settlement. (Palomo v. State Bar (1984) 36 Cal.3d 785, 794 [205 Cal.Rptr. 834] [client can expressly authorize attorney to endorse client’s name to a settlement check]; Matter of Lazarus (Review Dept. 1991) 1 Cal. Bar Ct. Rptr. 387, 396-97 [permissible for a client to expressly authorize an attorney to sign a client’s name on documents related to the client’s case].)"

Palomo v. State Bar (1984) 36 Cal.3d 785 states at page 793-795:

" The hearing panel found, among other things, that petitioner had endorsed his client's signature to the estate distribution check without Torres' knowledge or consent. [6] An attorney who does so engages in serious misconduct. (E.g., Silver v. State Bar (1974) 13 Cal.3d 134, 144 [117 Cal.Rptr. 821, 528 P.2d 1157]; Himmel v. State Bar (1971) 4 Cal.3d 786, 798 [94 Cal.Rptr. 825, 484 P.2d 993].) [5b] Petitioner concedes he had no express authority from Torres, but he contends the broad power of attorney contained in the retainer agreement permitted him to endorse the check. We disagree."

///

"Our past disciplinary cases have assumed that representational authority alone does not constitute the client's consent to simulation of his signature on a draft payable in his name. (Silver, supra, 13 Cal.3d at p. 144; Himmel, supra, 4 Cal.3d at p. 798.) fn. 5 [5c] Since it is undisputed that Torres gave no actual consent to petitioner's endorsement, the finding of misconduct is valid. fn. 6

(Emphasis added.)

If the lawyer did not have written authorization to sign the client's name, it was misconduct to have done that.

I hope this information is helpful.

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