A Provo attorney has been placed on probation while he attempts to resolve 16 complaints filed against him with the Utah State Bar.

In September, bar officials filed a petition for interim suspension against Stott P. Harston, saying the attorney had failed to respond to inquiries from bar disciplinary attorneys.At the time the petition was filed, the bar had received nine complaints that Harston had allegedly failed to provide services for which he had been paid and for failing to return telephone calls to clients. Stephen R. Cochell, chief disciplinary counsel, said the bar received seven more complaints after the petition was filed.

Besides the suspension, the bar was seeking a court-appointed trustee to take over Harston's clients and to transfer client records to new attorneys.

At a Nov. 14 hearing, 7th District Judge Boyd Bunnel granted the bar's petition for suspension but ordered the suspension held in abeyance for 60 days to give Harston time to resolve the complaints. Harston must cooperate with a supervising attorney from the bar or an attorney approved by the court.

"We expect him to pay restitution and resolve every complaint against him," Cochell said.

Normally, disciplinary proceedings against attorneys go before the bar's screening panel before action is filed in court. Cochell said the petition against Harston was filed directly because he would not return telephone calls or respond to letters from disciplinary counsel.

After the petition was filed, however, Harston contacted the bar. He is now cooperating with bar officials to resolve the 16 complaints.

"He's producing documents and he's made restitution in a couple of cases," Cochell said.

Another hearing is scheduled for Dec. 29 to determine whether Harston should remain on probation or have the abeyance order lifted.