The Colorado Supreme Court won't let attorney Heather Turner voluntarily surrender her law license. But that same court could force her to relinquish it.
The Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel filed a formal complaint Tuesday alleging that Turner violated Colorado's rules of professional conduct when she didn't show up to a client's trial. The complaint also asserts that Turner did not communicate her fee structure to that client and then included an 18 percent interest charge on her bill for services.
Turner did not return phone calls Thursday. Of her two telephone numbers on file at the Moffat County Court Clerk's Office, one is disconnected, and the other has a voice mail system too full to accept new messages.
She has 20 days to respond to the charges. If she doesn't respond, or if the state Supreme Court finds the complaint valid, Turner faces punishment that could include a private admonition, suspension of her law license or permanent disbarment.
On Nov. 9, Turner told clients, area judges and other attorneys she intended to surrender her license Nov. 14, citing a "corrupt, confusing and oppressive legal system" as the reason.
Colorado law prohibits attorneys from surrendering their licenses to avoid disciplinary action or if they are under investigation for misconduct.
John Gleason, Supreme Court regulation counsel, declined to say whether his office has more than one complaint about Turner. Until a formal action has been filed with the Supreme Court, that information is confidential, he said.
But two regulation counsel investigators will travel to Craig on Monday to determine whether there are other instances of misconduct.
"They'll certainly be interested in talking to anyone there who has information," Gleason said. "There will be a complete investigation to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe she engaged in any misconduct. We view this as a serious matter."
Turner is considered by the 14th Judicial District to have "abandoned her clients." Those who were counting on her representation could have grounds to file a complaint under Colorado rules requiring attorneys to "act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, and that a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to that lawyer."
Gleason said there could be as many as 140 cases throughout the state in which Turner is listed as the attorney of record.
"(Investigators) will be there looking for her clients and her files," Gleason said. "Our interest is in protecting their cases and getting their files back."
Investigators also will be looking for other allegations of personal or professional misconduct.
Turner has been successfully sued for bouncing checks at a Steamboat Springs business, has been cited for violating a restraining order and will go to trial Jan. 5 in a case in which she's accused of passing a bad check and for harassment.
Gleason said those cases will factor into the investigation.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.