July 20, 2007
A Bad Idea
A recent decision of the Minnesota Supreme Court ordered disbarment of an attorney convicted of attempted theft by swindle. A referee had recommended indefinite suspension with the possibility of reinstatement after two years.
The attorney had represented a client in at least 30 matters. Over the years, the client had suggested bribery as a potential solution to legal problems. The client was charged after a search found cocaine and marked bills in his home. The client owed the lawyer over $5,000 in fees and the lawyer devised a creative collection method--he told the client he needed cash to bribe an unnamed police official to fix the case. The client went to the police, and the requested payment was made to the lawyer, who was promptly busted.
The court's majority rejected imposition of supervised probation, as the lawyer's actions "effectively reinforced the client's cynical view of the legal system." There are two dissents calling for a lesser sanction. Justice Page notes that the lawyer "has served a segment of the population generally underrepresented in legal matters..."(Mike Frisch)
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