Picture
Here is the summary of decisions on attorney ethics and discipline from the Minnesota Supreme Court from May 13 - June 24, 2015.  All cases involving attorney ethics and discipline are notable, but the most unique case during this time period was Kennedy, where the dissent argued that there was an insufficient factual basis to establish a violation of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Responsibility.  Please note there were no decisions on attorney ethics and discipline issued on June 24, 2015.

1. A13-0519 In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Randall D.B. Tigue, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 110000.

After successfully completing probation, Respondent petitioned for and was granted reinstatement to the practice of law, but remains on probation through April 28, 2016.

2. Al4-1076 In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Joseph Michael Capistrant, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 187112.

The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition for disciplinary action alleging that respondent Joseph Michael Capistrant committed professional misconduct warranting public discipline, namely, failure to promptly return client files, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.16( d); failure to inform a client that his Wisconsin law license had been suspended and neglecting two lawsuits in Wisconsin, in violation of Wis. R. Prof. Conduct 20:1.3, 20:1.4, 20:8.4(c), and 20:8.4(d); and failure to cooperate with a disciplinary investigation, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 8.1(b) and Rule 25(a), Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility (RLPR). After respondent filed an answer to the petition, we referred the matter to a referee

The referee made findings, conclusions, and a recommendation. The referee concluded that respondent committed the misconduct alleged in the petition and that three aggravating favors were present, and recommended that respondent be indefinitely suspended with no right to petition for reinstatement for 6 months.

The Minnesota Supreme Court followed the referee's recommendation, and suspended Respondent indefinitely, with no right to petition for reinstatement for 6 months  Reinstatement is conditioned on successful completion of the professional responsibility portion of the state bar examination, satisfaction of continuing legal education requirements pursuant to Rule 18( e), RLPR, and proof of compliance with the terms of respondent's criminal probation.

3. A13-2350 In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Herbert Azubuike Igbanugo, a Minnesota Filed: May 20, 2015 Attorney, Registration No. 191139.

A 90-day suspension is the appropriate sanction for an attorney who, among other things, failed to communicate with clients, failed to credit client fees, attempted to collect fees that had already been paid, failed to diligently represent clients, and sent harassing letters in an effort to collect legal fees. 

4. A15-0728 In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Benjamin Eugene Myers, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 341447.

The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility has filed an amended petition for disciplinary action alleging that respondent Benjamin Eugene Myers committed professional misconduct warranting public discipline, namely: commencing a defamation lawsuit based on statements in a disciplinary case and attempting to talk to a judge's law clerk about the lawsuit, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 3 .4( c) and 8.4( d) and Rule 21, Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility (RLPR); commencing a frivolous lawsuit, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 3.1 and 8.4(d); harassing an assistant city attorney, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 8.4(d) and (g); failing to appear at a petty misdemeanor trial without having properly withdrawn as counsel for the defendant, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.1, 1.2(a), 1.3, 1.4, 1.16(d), 3.4(c), and 8.4(d); failing to provide a client with an accounting, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct l.4(a)(4) and 1.15(b); and failing to maintain required trust account books and records, failing to comply with the Director's requests for copies of documents and information, and failing to comply with a court order, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.15, 3.4(c), 8.l(b), and 8.4(d). 1 Respondent waives his procedural rights under Rule 14, RLPR, withdraws his previously filed answer, and unconditionally admits the allegations in the amended petition.

The parties jointly recommend that the appropriate discipline is a 60-day suspension and 2 years of supervised probation, and that is exactly what the Minnesota Supreme Court did.

5.  In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against William L. French, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 131945


The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed petitions for disciplinary action against respondent William L. French, alleging that French committed professional misconduct in three client matters. Following an evidentiary hearing, the referee concluded that French did not commit professional misconduct in the first two matters, but that he did violate Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.3, 1.4(a)(3), 1.4(a)(4), and 1.15(a) in the third matter. We conclude that the referee’s findings and conclusions are not clearly erroneous and that a public reprimand with 1 year of supervised probation is the appropriate discipline for French’s misconduct.


6. A14-0570  In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Duane A. Kennedy, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 55128 (Dissenting, Lillehaug, Page, and Anderson, JJ.)


The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition for disciplinary action against respondent Duane A. Kennedy, alleging that Kennedy committed professional misconduct by stating in a letter that his client, a complainant in a criminal sexual conduct case, would not testify against the defendant in her criminal case if the defendant settled the complainant’s civil claim for $300,000. Following an evidentiary hearing, the referee found that Kennedy violated Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 8.4(a) and 8.4(d) and recommended a suspension for a minimum of 90 days. We conclude that the referee’s findings and conclusions are not clearly erroneous but that a suspension for a minimum of 30 days is the appropriate discipline for this misconduct. 


The  dissent wrote:

I respectfully disagree with the majority’s conclusion that, by assisting his client, respondent Duane Kennedy engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice under Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 8.4(a) and 8.4(d). The referee’s theory of unethical behavior, advanced by the Director, is without sufficient factual support. Perhaps realizing this, the majority constructs and applies its own theory, but that theory is similarly without sufficient support.

7. Al4-1602 In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Albert B. Beety, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 6154.


The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition for disciplinary action alleging that respondent Albert B. Beety committed professional misconduct warranting public discipline, namely, engaging in the practice of law while on restricted status for failing to pay his attorney registration fee and for failing to comply with continuing legal education requirements, and failing to cooperate with the Director, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 5.5(a) and 8.l(b) and Rule 25, Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility (RLPR). Respondent now waives his procedural rights under Rule 14, RLPR, and unconditionally admits all of the allegations in the petition regarding his failure to cooperate with the Director and that he engaged in the unauthorized practice of law from 1994 through August 2003

In a stipulation for discipline, the parties jointly recommend that the appropriate discipline is a 60-day suspension, and that is exactly what the Minnesota Supreme Court did.


8. A14-1901 In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Gregory Gerard McPhee, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 316696

In 2007, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, suspended respondent 2 Gregory Gerard McPhee for 2 years for engaging in a pattern of client neglect, failing to return unearned fees, and failing to cooperate in disciplinary investigations. After learning of McPhee’s New York suspension, the Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (“the Director”) petitioned to impose reciprocal discipline in Minnesota. Because we conclude that the disciplinary proceedings in New York were fundamentally fair and that indefinite suspension from the practice of law without the possibility of reinstatement for 2 years would not be unjust or substantially different from the discipline that would be imposed in Minnesota, we indefinitely suspend McPhee with no right to petition for reinstatement for 2 years.

9. A14-1843 JUN 12 2015 In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Matthew Thompson Nielsen, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 230698.

The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility has filed a petition for disciplinary action, a supplementary petition for disciplinary action, and a second supplementary petition for disciplinary action alleging that respondent Matthew Thompson Nielsen committed professional misconduct warranting public discipline, namely, neglect of multiple client matters, failure to communicate with multiple clients, making false statements to and engaging in other dishonest conduct with multiple clients, making a false statement to a tribunal, and making a false statement during a disciplinary investigation, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.3, 1.4(a)(2), (3) and (4), 3.3(a)(1), 4.1, 8.1(b), and 8.4(c) and (d). Respondent waives his procedural rights under Rule 14, Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility (RLPR), withdraws the answer he previously filed to the petition, and unconditionally admits the allegations of the petition, supplementary petition, and second supplementary petition. The parties jointly recommend that the appropriate discipline is an indefinite suspension of a minimum of 4 months with no right to petition for reinstatement until respondent has been suspended for 60 days

In their stipulation for discipline, the parties indicate that respondent raised several issues in mitigation to the Director. The court has independently reviewed the file and indefinitely suspends respondent with no right to petition for reinstatement for 4 months.

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.

 


Comments

Thanks for this summary.

Reply
06/15/2016 5:03pm

The law is becoming the un law full for those who are not having the power in their hands. With the paying of the heavy amount sand to the most corrupted mind layers, we can change the situation of the truth. Is that our law?

Reply
06/24/2016 6:02am

Many thanks for excellent info I was trying to find this details

Reply
08/30/2016 11:39pm

Thank you and many thanks I say now I understand how to create an interesting article on a blog is like on this blog.

Reply
08/30/2016 11:52pm

It is very helpful in my job, your blog is really really helped and supported us.

Reply
Angelene van Blommestein
09/09/2016 2:39pm

Reply
10/06/2016 1:24am

This is very helpful and I am thankful that me and my friends have found this article and we will share this to our friends for them to be notified about it. The summary of attorney ethics gave me a lot of knowledge and I will consider this page a reference to my future works

Reply
11/12/2016 6:05am

This text is worth everyone’s attention. How can I find out more? Really great news!!! this information is well worth looking everyone. Good tips.

Reply

Reply

I know that there are countless plug-ins designed to make the comments do-follow, but I'm looking for something that will make the links in the blog-posts themselves do-follow. Please include a link or detailed instructions on how to do this. Thanks!. Do you have any examples of themes that you know for a fact have do-follow links in the posts? I'm having a hard time finding good information about this by searching..

Reply



Leave a Reply