Colorado attorney suspended, accused of urging clients to infect a rival with COVID-19

A judge this week suspended a Denver attorney from practicing law in Colorado’s federal bankruptcy court after finding he lied, submitted false legal documents and engaged in a pattern of “fraudulent schemes” to try to get a case dismissed.

Devon M. Barclay was barred from practicing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado for three years. The attorney violated his professional duties and committed “egregious lawyer misconduct,” bankruptcy Judge Thomas McNamara wrote in a scathing 46-page order issued Tuesday.

The suspension comes out of Barclay’s actions in a single bankruptcy case in which he represented clients in 2021, according to the order.

“From start to finish, Mr. Barclay’s representation of the debtors was incompetent,” McNamara wrote. “Even worse, he engaged in intentional bad-faith misconduct. … Rather than provide competent legal advice, Mr. Barclay engaged in a bizarre gamesmanship in the bankruptcy process.”

Barclay told The Denver Post Wednesday that he believes the suspension is the result of a personal vendetta against him and is in retaliation for a past investigation he said he conducted into a trustee with the Department of Justice’s U.S. Trustee Program. It oversees the administration of bankruptcy cases.

“It’s a shame I ran out of the resources to defend a lot of the allegations,” he said, adding that he had “never willingly tried to lie or mislead the court.”

Barclay declined to discuss any other specific allegations against him.

“It’s driven more by a desire to shut me up,” he said of the suspension. “… That’s really why the pleadings are as intense and wordy as they are.”

The ruling does not affect his overall law license or stop him from working in Colorado’s state courts, but Barclay must alert state authorities to his suspension by Jan. 24, McNamara ruled.

The state’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, which is responsible for disciplining Colorado attorneys, had no public information to share about Barclay on Wednesday, Attorney Regulation Counsel Jessica Yates said. Barclay said Wednesday that the office was aware of the suspension.

The judge’s suspension order says that in the 2021 case, Barclay forged signatures, tried to manipulate the bankruptcy fee filing system, filed motions based on false assertions of fact and suggested his clients try to infect a rival attorney with COVID-19.

Barclay also tried to get the case dismissed on false grounds and promised to pay a third-party creditor if they helped with the scheme, according to the order. The creditor did not do so, instead alerting authorities.

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