February 14, 2007
Negligence or Incompetence?
The Oregon Supreme Court suspended a lawyer for 30 days, overruling a trial panel decision that had found no ethical violation. The attorney had obtained a waiver of the right to a jury trial from his client without conducting any investigation of the client's situation or even reviewing the charges. The client later retained new counsel and entered a plea of guilty. He then filed an ethics complaint, alleging that his first lawyer had failed to adequately communicate with him. Noting that there is a distinction between errors of judgment that could lead to an actionable claim of negligence, on one hand, and incompetence on the other, the court found that the lawyer had failed to provide competent representation. (Mike Frisch)
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