BY LINDA BENTLEY | DECEMBER 4, 2013
Vannucci told to cease unauthorized practice of law
Resigns from Merit System Commission to work at law office
CAVE CREEK – The Aug. 21, 2006 Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Special Meeting Agenda included an item to “Accept the resignation of Sara Vannucci (r) and appoint Alberto Gutier to the Merit System Commission representing Supervisorial District 3 … to fill the unexpired term … through Dec. 31, 2008.”
Sonoran News requested a copy of Vannucci’s Aug. 5 resignation letter, which was addressed to Supervisor Andy Kunasek, with the salutation, “My dearest Andy.”
Vannucci wrote, “I am, with great regrets, giving you my resignation from the Merit Commission … There are basically three reasons for my resignation.
“First, I have finally found a law office that seems a good fit for me and is small enough to have the good sense to value my experience.”
For her second reason, Vannucci stated, “Like my fellow commissioners who have left the board, I feel my time there is completely without accomplishment. The county uses whatever muscle it needs to in order to reach its own ends, and the last few months dealing with the sheriff’s office have been exhausting. It has not been without its elements of fun, as Chief Hendershott and I were beginning to settle into a relationship.”
Last, she said the commission was a drain on her time with land issues, which is where she said her heart is and where she and Kunasek “have always connected intuitively.”
Vannucci goes on to say, “Something new is on the horizon which will demand all of our attentions, namely the Gila and Colorado Water Settlement cases.”
Her letter concludes, “If you genuinely want a Merit Commissioner with independence and understanding, I strongly urge Shea Stanfield, who has decades of public service and board experience, and who will support you as you direct her. If you want some piece (sic) and quiet, then you need a retired person who can put lots of time into reading, even if they are clueless.”
The bottom of Vannucci’s letterhead lists: “President, North Country Conservancy, Inc.; District 3 Advisory Council; Black Canyon Trail Coalition; New River/Desert Hills Community Association,” followed by “Illinois Bar Number 2889935, Iowa Bar Number 16108, Arizona H&L License 66829.”
The first question that came to mind was whether or not Vannucci had finally taken and passed the Arizona State Bar exam.
A call to the bar revealed she has not. Additionally, her Iowa license is not current and no one seems to know what an H&L License is.
The only license Vannucci has to practice law is in the state of Illinois.
Kunasek subsequently received an E-mail from Vannucci “begging” him not to accept her resignation. However, Kunasek had already selected Gutier to fill the rest of Vannucci’s term.
According to the information available on the Arizona Corporation Commission’s Web site, Vannucci is not just president of the North Country Conservancy she is also the statutory agent, where she has listed herself as Sara Vannucci, JD.
Vannucci passed herself off to Phoenix folks as an attorney in 2000, preparing quit claim deeds, wills and other documents which state at the top, “When recorded, please return to Attorney Sara Vannucci,” using a PO Box address in Cave Creek.
Additionally, in an article that ran Monday, Aug. 28, 2006 in the Scottsdale Republic, Thomas Ropp referred to Vannucci as “Cave Creek land use attorney.” He referred to her as such in an article last year as well.
Vannucci did not respond to an E-mail asking why Ropp believed she was a “Cave Creek land use attorney.”
She apparently also never thought to correct him after he referred to her as such last year.
On Aug. 28, Attorney Yvette Gray with the State Bar of Arizona sent Vannucci a letter referenced: “Unauthorized Practice of Law.”
Gray’s letter opened, “The state Bar of Arizona has been advised that you may have engaged in conduct that may violate Arizona Supreme Court Rule 31(b), which states: ‘no person shall practice law in this state or represent in any way that he or she may pracrice law in this state unless the person is an active member of the state bar …’
“According to our records you have never been admitted to the State Bar of Arizona.”
The letter continues, “You have been reported to us as having engaged in one or more of the following activities, defined … as the unauthorized practice of law:
“Providing legal advice or services for another by:
1. preparing document intended to affect or secure legal rights for another person;
2. preparing or expressing legal opinions for another person;
3. representing another in a judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative proceeding, arbitration or mediation;
4. preparing documents for filing in any court, administrative agency or tribunal for another person;
5. negotiating legal rights or responsibilities for another person;
6. using the designations ‘lawyer,’ ‘attorney at law,’ ‘counselor at law,’ ‘law,’ ‘law office,’ ‘J.D.,’ ‘Esq.,’ in a manner likely to induce others to believe you are authorized to practice law.”
Gray also noted, since Vannucci is on “Retired/Inactive” status with the State Bar of Iowa, it too would be notified, since Vannucci does not reflect her status when noting her Iowa Bar number.
And, in conclusion, Gray wrote, “If you have engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, you are requested to cease any activity defined as the practice of law in Arizona,” and asked Vannucci provide the bar with a response and/or written confirmation of her compliance within 30 days of her letter.