Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Liens Not Unethical

The Arizona Disciplinary Commission has, in my view correctly, affirmed the proposed dismissal of ethics charges against an attorney who had accepted liens to secure the payment of fees in divorce cases. The commission found that the liens were authorized by the Arizona disciplinary rules and were not prohibited business transactions with a client. The state legislature expressly has permitted lawyers to take a security interest in community property. The ABA "reached the same conclusion and it is a long standing tradition in Arizona that unless an ABA opinion is expressly overruled, it is considered persuasive in Arizona."

The commission held that it lacks authority to order the State Bar to pay the attorney's fees of the accused lawyer notwithstanding the assertion that it "has relentlessly pursued this matter and engaged in selective prosecution as Respondent's partner/husband was not similarly charged in this matter."

I previously had expressed my view that the State Bar should not have appealed the proposed dismissal. I received the briefs of the accused lawyer to the commission (thanks to her for reading the blog and providing the information). I fully agree that dismissal is the appropriate result. (Mike Frisch)


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