April 23, 2009
Special Counsel Not Needed
The Minnesota Supreme Court has imposed an indefinite suspension of at least two years for violating eight Rules in connection with his representation and employment of client "X." He had denied the allegations that he had testified falsely, submitted false evidence, failed to correct false testimony, assisted in violating a court order and failed to supervise a non-lawyer assistant.
The attorney, who was admitted in 1974, represented clients in attorney malpractice matters. He became friends with X (a non-lawyer) who had three felony convictions. The allegations stemmed from both the employment arrangement with X and the handling of X's probation revocation.
The court concluded that the dishonest conduct merited a significant sanction. The court also rejected the claim that the disciplinary counsel had a conflict of interest because one of the complaints came from the Attorney General's office, which has the authority to act as counsel to the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board. The attorney had sought appointment of a special counsel to handle the bar matter out of an alleged concerned that disciplinary counsel would be "overzealous" in pursuing the matter. The court also rejected the contention that the lawyer's due process rights were violated because the disciplinary counsel had sought privileged information. X had waived the privilege and the bar had not received protected documents. (Mike Frisch)
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