Welcome! Please view our students' work on their case summaries this term:

Student Name: Alesha Quam

Title:     Minnesota Attorney Suspended for Signing Former Client’s Name on Case Brief

In In re Grigsby, 815 N.W. 2d 836 (Minn. 2012) the Supreme Court in Minnesota suspended Stephen Vincent Grigsby for 60 days, the attorney was required to pay $900 in costs pursuant to Rule 24 RLPR, and he must also serve upon the Director proof of his effective achievement of the professional responsibility portion of the state bar examination within one year, for practicing law while under suspension and falsely signing a client’s name to a court document.

The Minnesota Supreme Court determined that Steven Vincent Grigsby violated Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.2 (a), 3.3(a)(1), 4.1, 8.4(c) and (d) and 5.5(a) when he, without prior approval, wrote and filed an appellate brief for a former client while he was suspended from practicing law and then signed the former client’s name to the brief and indicated the client was pro se.

The lawyer argued that he believed he had a duty under Rule 1.16 (d) to protect his former client’s interests by writing and filing the brief himself, as he believed the client would not have understood the situation he was in and would’ve failed to submit the brief in a timely manner.  The court disagreed with Grigsby’s argument stating he had several other alternatives including; seeking an extension of time for the brief to be filed and warning the court of appeals of the situations. By writing and signing the client’s name to the brief, Grigsby created a false dilemma. The court believes signing a client’s name to a court document is a very serious matter but disciplined Grigsby according to the fact that the client had given him permission to sign the case brief see also In re Riggs, 664 N.W. 2d 290, 290 (Minn. 1979).

This case teaches the importance of an attorney’s duty under Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 3.3 (a) (1) that says “a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal, or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer.”  This case also demonstrates the importance of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 8.4 (c) and (d) which states “it is misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation…it is misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.”

Labels for this post: Legal ethics, lawyer suspension, false statements, signature forgery, Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 3.3 and 8.4
Student Name: Bridget Brooks

Title: Minnesota: Petition for Disciplinary Action after conviction of three (3) felony-controlled substance crimes.

In In re Baer, 802 N.W.2d 360 (Minn. 2011), the Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition for disciplinary action alleging that the respondent David Eric Baer’s conviction of three (3) felony-controlled substance crimes are conclusive evidence of his violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 8.4 (b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.

Respondent waived his procedural rights under Rule 14, Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility (RLPR), and admits the allegations of the petition. The parties jointly recommend the appropriate discipline is a public reprimand and probation for a period coextensive with respondent’s three (3) year criminal probation.

The respondent, David Eric Baer, was then subject to the following terms and conditions while being placed on probation for the period of his coextensive criminal probation:

(a) Respondent shall cooperate fully with the efforts of the Director's Office to monitor compliance with this probation. Respondent shall promptly respond to the Director's correspondence by its due date. Respondent shall provide the Director with a current mailing address and shall immediately notify the Director of any change of address. Respondent shall cooperate with the Director's investigation of any allegations of unprofessional conduct that may come to the Director's attention. At the Director's request, respondent shall authorize the release of information and documentation to verify compliance with the terms of this probation.

(b) Respondent shall abide by the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct.

(c) Respondent shall maintain total abstinence from all controlled substances, except that respondent may use prescription drugs in accordance with the directions of a prescribing physician.

(d) Respondent shall continue counseling through Jewish Family and Children's Service, attending counseling sessions at least once per month. Respondent shall, without a specific reminder or request, submit to the Director quarterly attendance verifications on a form provided by the Director. The Director may, at his sole discretion, waive this requirement after the first six months of probation.

(e) Respondent shall comply with all conditions of his criminal sentence and probation.

The respondent was also charged with a fine of $900 in costs and disbursements pursuant to Rule 24 of the RLPR.

This teaches us that no one is above the law. The personal decisions you make in your own life could affect you as well as in your professional career. An attorney is to hold a higher resect for themselves if they would like to pass on that confidence to their clients. 
Student Name: Brittany Vatalaro

Link for opinion:
Title: Minnesota Lawyer Ordered to Retire and Close Law Firm Because of Professional Misconduct
In In re Jaeger, 801 N.W.2d 185 (2011), the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition regarding the conduct of Hugh D. Jaeger. The court agreed with their accusations and suspended Jaeger for a minimum of 120 days for professional misconduct. As conditions of this suspension, Jaeger was also ordered to retire and terminate his law firm. He is not allowed to seek reinstatement at any time in the future with any jurisdiction after August 31, 2011.

His misconduct included signing documents without client consent, failing to return client files, neglecting the client’s matters several times, and failing to cooperate with the disciplinary investigation. Jaeger was in violation of in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.3, 1.15(c) (4), 1.16(d), 4.1, 8.1(b), and 8.4(c), and Rule 25 of the Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility.

His neglect of his client’s needs falls under Minn. R. Prof. Conduct Rule 1.3, which states that a lawyer must act with promptness and reasonable diligence when representing a client. By failing to return his client’s files, Jaeger also violated Rule 1.16(d). Under this rule, a lawyer must surrender applicable papers and property back to the client upon termination of representation. Also, under Rule 1.15(c)(4), a lawyer is required to “promptly pay or deliver to the client or third person as requested the funds, securities, or other properties in the possession of the lawyer which the client or third person is entitled to receive”.

By signing client’s documents without their consent, Jaeger violated Rule 4.1, which states that a lawyer cannot knowingly make a false statement of fact or law. Also, Rule 8.4(c) prohibits any act of untruthfulness, deception, fraud or misrepresentation.

During the investigation of this matter, Jaeger was not cooperative. This is a violation of Rule 8.1(b), which states that a lawyer shall not “knowingly fail to respond to a lawful demand for information from an admissions or disciplinary authority…”.

This case shows the devastating effect of malpractice. Mistakes and violation of the code of ethics have serious consequences when practicing law. Because of Jaegers actions, and avoidance of certain actions, he has lost his career and business.

Labels for the post: legal ethics, fraud, terminate law practice, Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.15(c) (4), 1.16(d), 4.1, 8.1(b), and 8.4(c)
Student Name: Damita Nelling

Title: Lawyer Suspended for Bringing Defamation Action That Had No Basis in Law or Fact

In re Gant, 796 N.W.2d 310 (Minn. 2011), on June 8, 2010 the Minnesota Supreme Court publicly reprimanded an attorney with sanctions and fines assessed by the district court and court of appeals in the amount of $1000 dollars per month beginning on July 1, 2010 until the amount was paid in full for bringing a defamation action that had no basis in law or fact. If said attorney did not make the agreed payments as ordered, upon request of the Director, he would have the opportunity to be heard, and could face additional discipline as the court deemed appropriate. In November 2010, the Director notified the courts that the lawyer had only made one payment and requested his suspension, subject to immediate reinstatement subject to the original sanctions. Despite the lawyers attempted response to request a 60-day stay of further discipline, the court imposed the suspension and other discipline.

The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the referee’s conclusion that the lawyer committed professional misconduct by bringing a defamation action that had no basis in law or fact, a violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 3.1 and 8.4(d).

The lawyer’s defamation suit lacked merit because his claim was unfounded as he was unable to provide proof that a statement made by the opposing party was false, he also could not have argued in good faith or with reasonable thought that existing law supported his clients claims, and the lawyer had knowledge from past litigation of what the absolute privilege doctrine entailed.

What is to be learned by this case is that a lawyer shall not under Rule 3.1 bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless this is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification, or reversal of existing law.  The Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 8.4(d) also states that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to “engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.”

This case teaches that the court took it very seriously when the lawyer failed to follow court ordered sanctions by imposing a 90 days suspension and he had to comply with Rule 26 of the Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility (RLPR), which requires that he send a notice of suspension to his clients, opposing counsel, and tribunals. He was also assessed court costs, and had to re-file with the Clerk of Appellate Courts and had to provide an affidavit that he was current with continuing education requirements. It also stated that failure to complete any or all of the imposed sanctions would result in automatic re-suspension.

Labels for the post: sanctions, suspension, Rule 26 (RLPR)

Student Name: Danica Halvorson

Title: Minnesota: Lawyer Suspended for Neglecting Client Matters

In In re O’Brien, 809 N.W.2d 463 (Minn. 2012), the Minnesota Supreme Court suspended a lawyer for a minimum of 90 days for knowingly neglecting two client matters, failing to keep the client reasonably informed, did not return client’s files in a timely manner, failed to cooperate with the Director’s investigation, and acted in bad faith throughout the disciplinary proceedings.

The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the referee’s conclusions that the lawyer knowingly neglecting client matters, did not cooperate with the Director’s investigation, and acted in bad faith in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.15(c)(4), 1.16(d), 3.2, and 8.1(b), and Rule 25, Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility (RLPR).

The lawyer, who agreed to represent his client in two matters, also failed to meet the deadline imposed by the court of appeals in the first matter, which resulted in the dismissal of his client’s appeal. The lawyer then failed to inform his client that he had missed the filing deadlines and the court had dismissed the appeal. In the second matter regarding the conciliation court, the lawyer failed to manage any of the discovery requested by his client. His client regularly tried to contact him in regards to the status of the conciliation court matter and the progress of discovery; however he was hardly successful in communicating with his lawyer. Once the lawyer’s client did speak with him, the lawyer assured that everything was going well. After the lawyer never conducted the requested discovery, the client made several requests to return files back. After two months, the lawyer returned only a portion of the files on his client’s car. The lawyer’s client submitted a complaint to the Director’s office where the Director mailed the lawyer a notice of investigation. The notice requested a written response within 14 days; however the lawyer failed to respond by the deadline. The court held that an attorney who fails to not file a brief on behalf of his client, fails to conduct discovery as requested, does not keep his client reasonably informed, fails to return client files in a timely manner, and fails to cooperate with the Director’s disciplinary investigation is warranted for suspension. Because the lawyer neglected his client and was non-cooperative, these actions constitute serious misconduct. See also In re Cutting, 671 N.W.2d 173, 174 (Minn. 2003).

This case teaches the importance of the lawyer’s duty under Rule 1.4 that states a lawyer shall “keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter [and] promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.” In addition, Rule 25, RLPR states that “it shall be the duty of any lawyer who is the subject of an investigation or proceeding under these Rules to cooperate with the District Committee, the Director, or the Director’s staff, the Board, or a Panel, by complying with reasonable requests.”

Labels for the post: legal ethics, lawyer suspended, Rule 1.4, neglecting client matters, Rules on Lawyers of Professional Responsibility, Rule 25
Student Name: Eamonn Kingsbury

Title: Public Reprimand for attorney who Failed to Abide by Client's Decisions

In In re Gorokhovsky, 824 N.W.2d 804 (Wis. 2012), the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that public reprimand was warranted for this attorney who violated the Wisconsin Rules of Professional Conduct by failing to consult with his client and abide by his client's decisions regarding representation.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed the referee's findings of fact and conclusions of law, and agreed with the referee's recommendation regarding discipline. Accordingly, the court concluded that Attorney Gorokhovsky's misconduct required a public reprimand.  They also agreed with the referee that attorney Gorokhovsky bear the full costs of this disciplinary proceeding.  He was reprimanded for violating SCR 20:8.4(c) and SCR 22.03(6), which involve misconduct.  He was also in violation of SCR 20:1.5(a).  This is for unreasonable fees stemming from his $8,000.00 in attorney fees.

This case shows the importance of an attorney following the rules of misconduct under SCR 20:8.4(c) and SCR 22.03(6).  SCR 20:8.4(c) states that an attorney cannot “engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation”.  This was done when the attorney knowingly did not follow what the client wanted.  In addition, the attorney was also reprimanded for the $8,000.00 in attorney’s fees.  SCR 20:1.5(a) states that “A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses.”  The court deemed that this price was too heavy for the work provided.

Labels for the post: legal services, attorney reprimanded, failing to abide by client’s decisions
Student Name: Haisley Brenner

Wisconsin: Lawyer Reprimanded for Sexual Professional Misconduct

In Office of Lawyer Regulation v. Arellano, 346 Wis. 2d 340 (S.C. 2013), the Supreme Court of Wisconsin publically reprimanded an attorney for two counts of professional misconduct of misrepresentations to the OLR and District 9 Committee and making unsolicited phone calls to a future client. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin confirmed the referee’s conclusion that Arellano knowingly violated SCR 22.03 (6) via SCR 20:8:4 (h) by misleading the District Committee and being untruthful about his answers during their investigation of his actions against N.S.M. Also, the referee concluded that he also violated SCR 20:7.3. (c) by contacting his previous client S.F. and soliciting to her over the telephone to get her to hire him for her services.

Also, the referee filed a report stating that Arellano pay all costs in result of the hearings including attorney costs and court costs adding up to $40,960.49. In cases involving extraordinary circumstances, this could be lowered. Arellano’s case was considered extraordinary because Office of Lawyer Regulation voluntarily dismissed six of the fourteen counts right in the beginning. Because of this, Arellano was ordered to pay half of the first initial amount, which is $20,480.25.

This case shows how much a career can be affected if Rule 1.8 (j) is not followed. Rule 1.8 (j) says, “a lawyer shall not have sexual relations with a current client unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them when the client-lawyer relationship commenced.” Just from allegedly having sexual relations with multiple former clients of him, Arellano was put into a lengthy hearing that took two years to conclude from the first complaint in 2010. Besides the alleged sexual relations, he was accused of unsolicitated telephone calls, harassment and lying to the district committee. The sexual relations were just the beginning of the mess that he got himself into.

Labels: sexual misconduct, unsolicited, Arellano, OLR, public reprimand, professional misconduct

Student Name: Judy Warren
Title: Wisconsin Judge Engages in Judicial Misconduct

The Wisconsin Judicial Commission filed a judicial misconduct complaint against Justice David T. Prosser, indicating that on June 13, 2011 he engaged in judicial misconduct pursuant to Wis. Stat. §757.81, requesting that appropriate discipline be imposed.

Justice Prosser’s behavior escalated from tantrums and rage, to threats, and physical contact. An e-mail was sent on February 18, 2010 advising the other justices that steps needed to be taken to address the abusive temper tantrums.

In February 2010 there was a meeting with the Director of State Courts asking that, “…something be done about the escalation in the violent behavior.” Nothing happened in response to this meeting.
In March of 2011 it appeared to others that Prosser’s behavior was becoming increasingly agitated.  Enhanced security was planned out due to concerns that Justice Prosser’s behavior posed a threat to physical safety of those he worked with.

With all of the extra steps taken it did not stop him from attacking another justice on the evening of June 13, 2011. He got agitated and grabbed the neck of another Justice with both of his hands. The Dane County Sheriff’s office gave its findings to the County District Attorney, who referred the matter to special prosecutor Patricia Barrett. She ultimately ruled in in August 2011 that the circumstances and evidence reviewed did not support the filing of criminal charges. On March 16, 2012, the Wisconsin Judicial Commission filed an ethical complaint against Prosser. However, three conservative members of the court recused themselves from the matter, with the result that no quorum existed, and no decision could be made.

This case was heard by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin. The case number is 2012AP566-J Wisconsin Judicial Commission v. David T. Prosser, Jr.
Student Name: Kathy McSpadden

Link for Opinion:,31

Title: Minnesota: Attorney Suspended For Inappropriate Conduct Toward Opposing Counsel and Other Acts of Misconduct

In In re Petition for Disciplinary Action Against Peter James Nickitas, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 212313, Minnesota Supreme Court Docket No. A12-0821, Filed May 7, 2013, this attorney was suspended for a minimum of 30 days, followed by 2 years of supervised probation for the following acts of misconduct:  1) undertaking representation despite a conflict of interest; 2) engaging in inappropriate conduct toward opposing counsel; and 3) bringing a claim in bad faith and for an improper purpose.

The Petition of the Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility alleged that Respondent Peter James Nickitas (“Respondent”) violated rules 1.7(a)(2), 3.1, 4.4(a), and 8.4(d) of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct; Respondent withdrew his answer to the Petition and admitted to allegations as stated in the Petition.  The Minnesota Supreme Court agreed with the terms and recommendation of the Referee that Respondent should have his license suspended for thirty days; however, the Court did not agree with the Referee recommendation for unsupervised probation and the Court ordered that “. . . the public would be better protected if the Respondent's probation is supervised.” 

The Court further ordered that Respondent must comply with Rule 26 of the Rules of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (RLPR), which requires that he give notice of license suspension to his clients, opposing counsel and tribunals; Respondent must pay $900.00 in costs and disbursements pursuant to Rule 24 of RLPR; and the Respondent will be eligible to reinstate his license to practice law after fulfilling requirements of continuing legal education and has complied with Rules 24 and 26, RLPR and has complied with any other conditions for reinstatement which the Court has imposed. 

The Court also ordered that Respondent fully cooperate with the Director's Office in monitoring the supervised probation which will be supervised by a licensed Minnesota attorney appointed by the Director  and follow other probationary guidelines set forth by the Court and the Director.  Within 1 year of the date of the Court's Order the Respondent shall serve upon the Director and file with the Clerk of Appellate Courts a proof of successful completion of the professional responsibility portion of the state bar exam.  Failure to timely file the required documentation shall result in automatic re-suspension provided in Rule 18(e)(3), RLPR. 
Student Name: Kayla Masterson

Title: South Dakota Attorney Suspended from Practice for Neglecting Clients
In In re Reynold, 762 N.W.2d 341 (2009), Michael Reynolds was suspended from practicing law for three years for neglecting his clients. He had been given the chance to rectify the situation by the South Dakota Disciplinary Board, and failed to do so. Upon his possible readmission to the Bar he would have to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam and pass. He also would have to take a law office management course. Following this he would have to have a psychological evaluation done and the results would need to be turned into the Board. Finally, he also had to reimburse the Judicial System and the Bar for the costs of his case.

Reynolds was to appear before the Court to show cause. No communication was received from Reynolds. The Court ruled that he neglected to reply to a client after many attempts of reaching him. Reynolds admitted to violating Rules 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.7 and 8.4(a)(c). The court ordered a Private 60 Agreement in which he was to have a psychological evaluation; all his cases were to undergo a review, biweekly review of any new cases and reporting requirements.

Upon multiple amendments to the agreement and due process hearings, Reynolds still was failing to adhere to the implemented rules and neglecting his clients. By doing so there were consequences that affected the client’s cases. The court found that he had violated Rule 1.3 and 1.4; while he openly admitted to violating Rules 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.7 and 8.4(a)(c). After the multiple chances he was then disciplined with a three year suspension from practicing law.

This case ultimately teaches how important it is to be diligent and organized. Procrastination in the legal field is not welcome. These clients count on the services that attorneys provide and in situations like this the legal system failed the multiple clients Reynolds had by causing non rectifiable consequences.

Labels for the post: legal ethics, lawyer suspended, rule 1.3, rule 1.4, rule 1.5, rule 1.7, rule 8.4(a), rule 8.4(c)
Student Name: Lindsay Kuhbander

Attorney Disbarment: Unethical Practice of Law

In the case of Board v. McDonagh, 822 N.W.2d 468 (N.D. 2012), disciplinary action was brought against a Minnesota attorney, Alan Martin McDonagh, for using client funds to pay for the law firm expenses, failure to place client funds into designated trust accounts, forging another attorney’s signature, and withholding funds from other business partners. The courts ruled for McDonagh to be disbarred and ordered to pay restitution in costs and disbursements.

The Supreme Court recommended that McDonagh be suspended for three years; pay $8,000.00 in restitution and the costs of the discipline proceedings. The Courts found that McDonagh violated N.D. Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5, 1.15(a), 1.15(c), 1.15(d), and 8.4(c). The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court agreed with the Supreme Court’s recommendation of restitution, but rejected the recommendation of suspension and instead ordered disbarment.

In May 2006, McDonagh failed to deposit an advance payment of $3000.00 of client funds into a client trust account. When confronted with the misconduct McDonagh could not provide an explanation or return client funds.

In January 2009, McDonagh wanted to obtain a $150,000.00 line of credit from Choice Financial. McDonagh planned to offered land as collateral, but knew that Choice Financial would need another attorney to complete the title opinions. McDonagh took it upon himself to write the title opinions and created documents appearing as though another attorney, Ryan Norrell, created them by using Norrell’s letterhead and forging his signature on the title opinions.

As a co-owner of Biliske & Merrill Real Estate Marketers, LLC, McDonagh deceived his co-owners by telling them he had not received payment from July 2010 through spring of 2011. The co-owners eventually discovered that McDonagh was lying and that he had misapplied the funds.

In May or June 2011, McDonagh confessed to Ralph Carter, a senior partner at Carter, McDonagh, and Sandberg, that he spent client retainers to pay for law firm expenses instead of depositing the funds into client trust accounts. The misapplied funds amounted to $28, 448.00 in client funds stemming from nineteen different clients. It was later revealed that McDonagh had also misapplied $21,500.00 in client funds involving six additional clients.

A disciplinary petition was filed which stated that McDonagh violated N.D. Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5 (a) for taking fees that were warranted and N.D. Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15 (a), (c), and (d) for not safekeeping client funds and property, and 8.4 (c) for misconduct. These violations are the result of McDonagh misapplying client funds, forging another attorney’s signature, and misusing profits. McDonagh knowingly committed the following acts and was aware of how his actions may affect his clients, business partners, and attorneys, therefore McDonagh was disbarred.

This case is example of an attorney who was trying to get ahead in the wrong ways and it eventually resulted in him losing his license to practice. The disciplinary board was fair in their rulings by taking into account the severity of McDonagh’s violations, in addition to the deceit and turmoil he inflicted upon his clients, attorneys, and business partners. Profiting off others by scheming them out of their money is wrong and in the end is not worth the consequences and tainted reputation.
Student Name: Maija Neuman

 Minnesota: Lawyer Suspended for Violating Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct

In In re Murrin 821 N.W.2d 195 (Minn. 2012), the Minnesota Supreme Court suspended an attorney for a minimum of 6 months for violating rules of the professional conduct, and is required to petition for reinstatement in order to practice law according to Rule 18(a)-(d),  RLPR.
The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the referee found the attorney had filed many frivolous pleadings in Minnesota Courts in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 3.2, and 8.4(d).

The lawyer filed frivolous pleadings in three separate 1. Hennepin County District Court; 2. United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, and 3. United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota because he and his wife were victims of a Ponzi scheme losing $600,000.00 of their own money. The complaints filed by the lawyer failed to show what the claims were, contain short plan statements, and to give the Defendants fair proper notice of the allege claims against them. The lawyer failed to show understanding of the damage the complaints that were filed did to the defendants, and that the lawyer displayed a delusional attitude towards the evidence presented against him. The Supreme Court held that:  1. the attorney had violated rules of professional conduct by  rushing litigation and 2. The six months suspension was sufficient enough for a punishment as long as the lawyer petitions to be reinstated to practice law. 
This case teaches the importance of the lawyer’s duty under Rule 3.2, and 8.4(d). Rule 3.2 states “A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interest of the client.” Rule 8.4(d) states “It is a professional misconduct for a lawyer to: engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Labels for the post: legal ethics, violation of Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyer suspended, Rule 3.2, and Rule 8.4(d)
Student Name: Melissa Adreon

Title: Minnesota Lawyer Suspended for Illegally Purchasing Controlled Substance

In re disciplinary action against Cunningham, 812 N.W.2d 825 (2012), the Minnesota Supreme Court suspended Jennifer Lynn Cunningham’s license to practice law. This came about after allegations were made that Cunningham illegally purchased a controlled substance from a client. This was a violation of the Minnesota Rules of Responsibility in conduct, 8.4(b). Cunningham pleaded guilty to the charges and agreed that she violated the rules. She pleaded guilty to 5th degree controlled substance and the courts stayed her adjudication and placed her on probation.

Cunningham and the director of the Minnesota Board of Professional Responsibility can to the agreement that her license be suspended for a minimum of 90 days and that she be on probation. During this probation period she will be under supervision of the director and have conditions with her license. The conditions include that of complying with rule 26 and notify the opposing counsel as well as clients to inform them about her suspension. She also needs to pay $900 for the rule 24. Cunningham can be reinstated at the time the suspension is done as long as she files an affidavit proving that she is doing the education that is needed. She also needs to be sure to abide by all rules of the professional responsibility. Cunningham must also stay away from all alcohol and drugs and attend regular AA and NA meetings with proof of attendance. She also needs to show proof of taking the professional responsibility portion of the bar exam.

What I have learned from this case is that you can get in trouble even if you are working for the courts. You need to make sure you are following the rules of professional responsibility because one time of getting in trouble can take everything you have worked so hard for away really quick. Lawyers have rules to follow just like anybody else. It is just not worth it.

Tags form article:  Rule 8.4, Suspended, probation

Student Name: Samantha Schliep

Title: In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Pitera, Minn: Supreme Court 2013

In re Brian Louis Pitera, No. A12-0274 Sup. Ct. Minn. (2013), the Minnesota Supreme Court disbarred Pitera from the practice of law in Minnesota. The Supreme Court further ordered that Pitera comply with Rule 26, RLPR, and pay $900 in costs, pursuant to Rule 24, RLPR for assaulting his roommate, failing to pay a law-related judgment, appear at a hearing, communicate his anticipated absence at that hearing to the district court or his client, refund any portion of an unreasonable fee, and cooperate with the disciplinary action.
The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the referee’s conclusions that the lawyer knowingly failed to refund an unearned fee violated Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.3, 1.4(b), 1.5(a), 3.2, 3.4(c), and 8.4(d).
Because of Pitera’s prior disciplinary history it is an aggravating factor when deciding appropriate discipline. See Lundeen, 811 N.W.2d at 609. Furthermore the court decided, "We generally impose more severe sanctions when the current misconduct is similar to the misconduct for which an attorney has already been disciplined."

This case communicates the prominence of the lawyer’s duty under RPC 8.4(b) which states: “It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to….commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyers’ honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a layer in other respects. It also interconnects with Minnesota Rule of Professional Conduct 1.3 which states “A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client." Minnesota Rule of Professional Conduct 1.4(b) states: "A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.

What Brian Pitera has done is unethical. He violated several Rules of Professional Conduct. Such as rule 1.3, 1.4, 8.4. I believe that the Minnesota Supreme Court was justified in making their decision.

Labels for the post: legal ethics, disbarred attorneys, Rule 8.4, Rule 1.3, Rule 3.4
Student Name: Stacie Patnode

Title:  Minnesota Attorney Disbarred Following Conviction of Twelve Felony Counts of Fraud
In Minnesota Supreme Court

In re Disciplinary Action Against Morris, 827 N.W.2d 427 (Minn. 2013), attorney, William John Morris was convicted of 12 felony counts for his participation in a fraudulent scheme with his mother that resulted in the receipt of over $3.5 million and was sentenced to 132 months in prison.

The Director of Professional Responsibility filed a petition on June 1, 2012 alleging that Morris violated Rules 8.4 (b) and (c) of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct and recommended that Morris be disbarred.  Morris did not respond to the petition pursuant to Rule 13(b) of the Rules on Lawyer Professional Responsibility.  The Minnesota Supreme Court deemed the allegations admitted, agreed with the Director of Professional Responsibility, and ordered that Morris be disbarred.

Morris and his mother formed the corporation CyberStudy in 1996 to market an educational software program primarily to minorities in low-income communities.  Morris led his customers to believe that they would receive free computers and internet access without cost after registering to receive the educational software. Morris forged his customer’s signatures on Power-of-Attorney forms authorizing CyberStudy to file tax returns on behalf of its customers and used registration information to file tax returns for Minnesota Education Credit on behalf of those customers.  He listed CyberStudy bank account information to obtain the refunds.  If a tax refund was rejected Morris threatened to report customers to the deportation authorities in an attempt to collect the funds.

Morris also defrauded Kmart by entering into a contract with the company under false pretenses.  As a result Kmart delivered around $1.2 Million worth of computers to CyberStudy without pre-payment. Kmart was later able to obtain a judgment against CyberStudy which has never been paid.
Rules 8.4(b) and (c) of the Rules of Professional Conduct states an attorney has engaged in professional conduct by committing a criminal act that reveals the attorney to be dishonest or untrustworthy; or an attorney who misrepresents the truth, engages in dishonest, fraudulent, or deceitful activity. This case shows the importance of honesty in legal practice in addition to the devastating effect one legal professional’s actions can have on the community and the reputation of the legal community.
This case teaches the importance of the lawyer’s duty under Rule 3.3(a)(1) that states a lawyer shall not knowingly “make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal, or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer.” In additional, Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 4.1 states “In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of fact or law.”

Labels for the post: Rule 8.4, disbarred, felony, fraud, forged, defraud, deceit, misconduct, prison

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