May 2, 2008
Forging a Judge's Signature on a Court Order Is, Unsurprisingly, Unethical in Iowa
An attorney presented two orders for a judge's signature. The judge had intended to sign both but overlooked one. When the lawyer realized the error, he forged the judge's signature and filed the order. When he was confronted, he admitted what he had done. The Iowa Grievance Commission privately admonished the attorney and an appeal was taken by the Board. The Iowa Supreme Court agreed that "forgery is a serious violation and warrants public discipline." The court imposed a public reprimand:
"We believe a public reprimand is necessary to signal Iowa lawyers and the citizens of Iowa that forging a judge's signature is a serious ethical violation under any circumstances."
The judge had noticed the forgery and asked for an explanation, which the attorney provided. The judge and lawyer then both reported the incident to disciplinary authorities. (Mike Frisch)
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