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There was one decision this week on attorney ethics and discipline from the Minnesota Supreme Court.  The decision highlights the importance of promptly communicating with clients and returning client files after representation has concluded.

A14-1553, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Kristi Dannette McNeilly, a Minnesota Attorney,Registration No. 341265.

The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition for disciplinary action alleging that respondent Kristi Dannette McNeilly committed professional misconduct, namely, engaging in a conflict of interest; after terminating representation, failing to communicate important dates to a client, failing to promptly return client files, and making misrepresentations to a District Ethics Committee investigator; bringing a lawsuit based, in part, on an ethics complaint filed with the Director; and engaging in a pattern of misconduct in mortgage modification matters by failing to act diligently, failing to adequately communicate with clients, failing to promptly return client files, attempting to charge for copying client files without the appropriate written agreement, and making misrepresentations, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.3, 1.4, l.7(a)(2), l.l6(d) and (f), 3.1, 8.1(a), and 8.4(c) and (d), and Rule 21, Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility (RLPR).

Respondent attorney raised mental health issues as a mitigating factor, but agreed to a public reprimand and supervised probation for three years.  Accordingly, the Minnesota Supreme Court imposed that discipline, and required the respondent to undergo a complete psychological evaluation and initiate or continue treatment for her mental illness.

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.

 
 
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There were three decisions -- actually, one decision and two orders -- issued by the Minnesota Supreme Court today, Wednesday 10/8/14.  The decision, involving the appeal of a admonition, reversed the discipline and vacated the admonition.  The orders involved a petition for reinstatement and a stipulated public reprimand.

A13-1856, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action Against A.B., a Minnesota Attorney, Panel Case No. 35121.

Summary:  The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility issued an admonition to A.B. based on his failure to appear at several court hearings in a marital-dissolution case and becauuse he did not inform the district court that he had a limited-scope agreement with his client that excluded court hearings. A panel of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board affirmed the admonition, concluding that A.B.’s conduct violated Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 8.4(d).

Because the panel’s decision was clearly erroneous, Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the Board’s decision and vacated the admonition.  However, in a footnote, the Court cautioned that vacating an admonition did not mean that "an attorney’s failure to attend a court hearing can never result in discipline," and cited an array of cases as proof.

A13-1548, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Willie Herman Davis, Jr., a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 298384.

Summary: By order filed on May 8, 2014, the Minnesota Supreme Court suspended respondent Willie Herman Davis, Jr., from the practice of law for a minimum of 120 days, effective 14 days from the date of the filing of the order. Respondent has filed an affidavit seeking reinstatement in which he states that he has complied with the conditions for reinstatement imposed by the court. Respondent's affidavit does not state that respondent has successfully completed the professional responsibility portion of the state bar examination, nor has respondent filed with the Clerk of Appellate Courts proof that he has successfully completed the professional responsibility portion of the state bar examination. The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility does not oppose the request

For all of these reasons, the Court conditionally reinstated respondent's license to practice law.  The conditions include being on disciplinary probation for 7 years and completing the professional responsibility portion of the bar examination.

A14-1551, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Timothy Joseph Klima, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 202885.

Summary: The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility has filed a petition for disciplinary action seeking reciprocal discipline under Rule 12(d), Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility (RLPR), based on a decision of the Iowa Supreme Court publicly reprimanding respondent Timothy Joseph Klima. See Iowa Supreme 
Court Attorney Disciplinary Bd. v. Klima, No. 13-1815, Order (Iowa filed Jan. 3, 2014). The Iowa public reprimand was based on respondent assisting another lawyer in his firm in violating the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct by helping him draft a will in which respondent received a substantial gift and failing to explain to the client the conflict 
inherent in including such a gift in a will drafted by a member of respondent's firm, the implications of the gift, and the need for independent counsel, in violation of Rules 32:1.4(a)(2) and (b) and 32:8.4(a) of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct. The Director and respondent have entered into a stipulation in which respondent 
admits the allegations in the petition for disciplinary action and waives his rights under Rule 12(d), RLPR. The parties jointly recommend that the appropriate discipline is a public reprimand, so the Minnesota Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Respondent.

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.