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Court disbars attorney who practiced without license

The Missouri Supreme Court has disbarred a Gladstone attorney who admitted to practicing without a Kansas law license for 17 years in Kansas courts.

In an order June 2, the court disbarred Daniel Gonzalez Zarate, who had been licensed as an attorney in Missouri since 1999.

The court found Zarate violated ethics rules prohibiting lawyers from engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; and the unauthorized practice of law.

In a joint stipulation, Zarate admitted to appearing as counsel of record in more than 1,100 municipal court cases in Kansas municipal courts while practicing without a Kansas license. He also admitted to using a law school classmate’s bar number without his knowledge.

The high court’s ruling aligned with what the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel had argued was proper in the case.

A disciplinary hearing panel recommended a suspension of his license for at least one year. OCDC disagreed, prompting arguments before the Supreme Court. OCDC advocated for Zarate’s disbarment.

In addition to disbarring Zarate, the court also ordered him to pay a $2,000 fee.

James C. Morrow of Morrow Willnauer Church in Kansas City represented Zarate. He did not respond to a message seeking comment.

The Supreme Court also suspended the law licenses of two other attorneys.

The court suspended the law license of Gaylard T. Williams of St. Louis for at least a year after finding he violated ethics rules regarding sexual relationships with clients and conflicts of interest.

OCDC alleged Williams engaged in sexual relations with a client during his representation of her and they had no prior consensual sexual relationship prior to him becoming her lawyer.

The woman retained Williams first in 2005 for assistance in a financial dispute stemming from the purchase of her home, according to OCDC’s brief. She alleged Williams sexually assaulted her in March 2005. She went on to retain him in three other matters, and she alleged that again in 2016 Williams forced her to have sex.

Williams denied the allegations and maintained the sex was consensual.

The disciplinary hearing panel recommended the case be dismissed after finding OCDC had not met its burden of proof and also that the woman’s testimony not credible. OCDC rejected the panel’s findings, bringing the case to the Supreme Court.

Williams, who has been a licensed Missouri attorney since 1986, represented himself in the disciplinary case. Williams said he disagreed with the ruling and asserted that OCDC lacked evidence to support its allegations against him.

“The Missouri Supreme Court totally disregarded the documented evidence presented, the credibility and inconsistency of the only witness to testify, the findings of facts, conclusion of law and recommendation of the DHP to achieve an [end],” he said in a statement. “I have to live with the decision of the Court, but in this case justice was not served.”

The court also ordered a suspension of at least six months for Grandview attorney Efrain L. Sanchez, who the court found violated rules involving trust accounts and misconduct.

The case is In re: Zarate, SC98337.

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