Bad attorney or ‘sour grapes’?
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado
SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” The Colorado Supreme Court is investigating Snowmass Village attorney Cindy Tester for misconduct after a former employee filed a complaint against the lawyer, who insists it’s a case of “sour grapes.”
In a handwritten memo to the court’s Attorney Regulation Counsel, former paralegal Jennifer Davis said that Tester regularly missed court deadlines, overcharged clients and has used company funds for personal matters.
“I feel like she needs to be stopped; she’s hurting people,” Davis said, adding that she will also file a misconduct lawsuit.
Tester said Davis has no credibility and her complaint is bogus.
“Every single one of those things was baloney,” Tester said of the allegations. “There is not one shred of truth, except for a very mad, vindictive woman.”
Tester, who has a Snowmass Village-based law practice, is the town attorney for Silt and has been a civil lawyer in the valley since 1993.
The court’s regulatory council receives some 5,000 complaints each year, and every case is reviewed by an attorney, according to Nancy Cohen, the council’s chief deputy.
But only a handful of misconduct allegations become a formal complaint ” just 52 in 2007 ” and complainants must prove that an attorney breached ethical codes of conduct.
“A lot of our complaints get dismissed,” Cohen said.
Supreme Court officials cannot comment on a case until it becomes a formal complaint and goes to a judge, Cohen said.
Davis said her trouble started when Tester represented her during a divorce and that Tester missed important filing dates.
And later, as Tester’s employee for two years, Davis said she witnessed many ethical breaches at the firm.
One local man who filed a malpractice suit was forced to pay out of his own pocket because of Tester’s errors, according to Davis, and others lost out on settlements because of Tester’s incompetence.
Davis claims she was fired when she was overheard saying she would expose Tester.
“She’s just in people’s pocketbooks, and she’s hurting them,” Davis said, adding she has documents to prove it.
Tester claims she was just too nice to the young woman.
The attorney said she took Davis under her wing after Davis’ divorce and trained her as a paralegal, but that Davis went on to undercut her practice and has some “serious issues.”
“She had been doing all kinds of bad things within my business,” Tester said. And when Davis was fired, Tester had to call the police.
Tester claims that Davis was part of an overall “staff infection” that has been resolved.
“I have a whole new staff,” she said.
Tester said she is transparent about her business practice and has accounted for “every cent.” The attorney said she is confident the evidence will bear her out.
“I didn’t do anything wrong, except I made the mistake of being too nice to her,” said Tester. “I feel confident that everything is going to be just fine because I know I’m a good person.”
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