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There were three orders on attorney discipline issued this week by the Minnesota Supreme Court.  The first two cases involved a public reprimand and suspension from the practice of law for a period of time.  The third case involved reinstating an attorney who was formerly suspended.

1. A15-0259, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Richard William Hechter, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 193537.

The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility has filed a petition for disciplinary action alleging that respondent Richard William Hechter committed professional misconduct warranting public discipline, namely, failing to promptly withdraw earned fees and costs from his trust account, commingling earned fees and costs with client funds in his trust account, creating shortages in his trust account, issuing trust account checks in direct payment of his own personal and/or business expenses, and failing to maintain the required trust account books and records, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.15(a), (b), (c)(3), and (h), and Appendix 1 thereto.

The parties jointly recommend that the appropriate discipline is a public reprimand and 2 years of probation, during which respondent's books and records will be available for the Director's review.  Accordingly, that is what the Minnesota Supreme Court ordered.

2. A14-1589, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Richard Lee Swanson, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 173423.

The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility has filed a petition for disciplinary action alleging that respondent Richard Lee Swanson committed professional misconduct warranting public discipline, namely: with respect to four client matters, failing to adequately communicate with clients, failing to diligently pursue client
cases, failing to appear for hearings, failing to obtain the consent of one client to the involvement of substitute counsel, making a false statement to one client, failing to properly refund the unearned portion of clients' retainers, and failing to provide a copy of one client's file; and committing trust account violations by failing to maintain proper
trust account books and records, failing to promptly withdraw earned fees from a trust account, commingling earned fees with client funds, and failing to deposit advance attorney fees payments and an advance filing fee payment in trust, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4(a)(3) and (4), 1.5(b), 1.6(a), 1.15, 1.16(d), 4.1, and 8.4(b),
(c), and (d).

The parties jointly recommend that the appropriate discipline is a 90-day suspension and 2 years of supervised probation. In their stipulation, the parties indicate that respondent presented evidence of several mitigating factors to the Director.  Accordingly, that is what the Minnesota Supreme Court ordered.

3. A14-2158, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Shannon M. Fitzpatrick, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 345349.

By order filed on February 12, 2015, we suspended respondent Shannon M. Fitzpatrick from the practice of law for a minimum of 30 days, effective from the date of the filing of the order. Respondent has filed an affidavit seeking reinstatement in which she states that she has fully complied with the terms of the suspension order, except for
successful completion of the professional responsibility portion of the state bar examination. The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility does not oppose the request.  Accordingly, the Minnesota Supreme Court conditionally reinstated Respondent Fitzpatrick to the practice of law in the State of Minnesota, subject to her successful completion of the professional responsibility portion of the state bar examination, and is placed on
disciplinary probation for 2 years.

Tim represents attorneys facing professional discipline, and consults with attorneys about whether a particular situation or proposed course of conduct implicates the Rules of Professional Conduct.  When faced with a situation that may implicate the Rules of Professional Conduct, Tim always recommends that an attorney seek an advisory opinion from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. 

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  Also, Tim is licensed only in state and federal courts in Minnesota.  As such, any information provided in this blog post pertains only to those jurisdictions.  Further, you should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.