In the Disciplinary Matter Involving JEFFREY H. VANCE, Attorney.
File Nos. 2016D140, 2017D180, ABA Membership No. 0111080
Woelber Assistant Bar Counsel.
Jeffrey H. Vance, Respondent Attorney
Michael A. Moberly Attorney for Respondent.
Before: Stowers, Chief Justice, Winfree, Maassen, Bolger, and
Counsel for the Alaska Bar Association and attorney Jeffrey
H. Vance entered into a stipulation for discipline by consent
that would result in a six-month suspension from the practice
of law and payment of $1, 000 in costs. The Bar
Association's Disciplinary Board approved the stipulation
and now recommends that we do so as well. The facts of
Vance's misconduct are set forth in the stipulation,
which is attached as an appendix. We take these facts as true,
we apply our independent judgment to the sanctions'
on the stipulated facts we agree with the legal analysis -
set out in the stipulation - that suspension for six months
is the appropriate sanction for Vance's misconduct.
H. Vance is suspended from the practice of law for six
months. In addition, Vance shall pay $1, 000 to the Alaska
Bar Association within 60 days from entry of this order for
disciplinary costs and fees incurred in this case.
order is effective 30 days after issuance pursuant to Alaska
Bar Rule 28(c).
by direction of the court.
THE ALASKA BAR ASSOCIATION DISCIPLINARY BOARD
FOR DISCIPLINE BY CONSENT
AUTHORITY TO CONSENT TO DISCIPLINE
Jeffrey H. Vance is a member of the Alaska Bar Association,
admitted to practice law by the Supreme Court, and subject to
the Alaska Rules of Professional Conduct (ARPCs) and the
Alaska Bar Rules, Part II (Rules of Disciplinary
Disciplinary Board and the Supreme Court review this
stipulation, and Vance is authorized to consent to
discipline, under Alaska Bar Rule 22(h).
driver (Client) was in a car accident in Alaska in October
2014. He hired Law Firm to represent him in a personal injury
claim against the other driver, who was insured by Insurance
January 2015, Insurance Company offered to settle
Client's claim for $16, 372. While the offer was pending,
Client died of causes unrelated to the car accident.
Vance came to work at Law Firm in 2016 and inherited
Client's file. In May 2016 he asked the superior court to
appoint Client's elderly mother as his personal
representative so she could administer the car accident claim
as part of her son's estate. The court issued the order
on September 2, 2016, and a few days later the mother
accepted Insurance Company's standing offer to settle.
September 15, 2016, Insurance Company sent Vance a release of
Client's claim for the mother to sign. He promptly mailed
the release to her at her home in New Jersey, and in late
September she signed it before a notary public and mailed it
back to him.
statute of limitations on Client's claim would expire on
October 8, 2016 (a Saturday). By Friday, October 7, the
release had not arrived at Vance's office. He contacted
the claims officer handling the case for Insurance Company
and explained that the release was still in transit from New
Jersey. To avoid forcing Vance to file a lawsuit that day,
and because the statute of limitations expired on a Saturday
(when the court was closed), the claims officer agreed that
Insurance Company would accept the release if they received
it the following business day, Monday, October 10; they would
not agree to extend the time further.
Monday the release still had not arrived at Vance's
office. He fabricated a substitute release by copying the
mother's signature from another document, obtained a
notary seal from the desk of a colleague who was on vacation,
and used the seal to notarize the false release. He delivered
the release to Insurance Company on the morning of October 10
and in return received the settlement check.
afternoon Insurance Company's claims officer examined the
release and noticed that the notarization stamp was for a
notary public in Alaska not New Jersey, yet the mother's
signature and the notary's signature appeared to be
signed with the same ink. The claims officer phoned Vance and
questioned the authenticity of the release. Vance admitted
his role. The claims officer rejected the release and
Insurance Company stopped payment on its settlement check.
Vance immediately informed the senior partner of his law firm
about his conduct. Later that afternoon Vance filed a timely
lawsuit to preserve ...