Tuesday, December 13, 2011

If No Violations, No Aggravating Factors

The Iowa Supreme Court has found that an attorney did not commit any charged ethical violations and rejected the recommendation of its Grievance Commission for a 30-day suspension. The court dismissed the case.

The attorney is admitted in Minnesota and South Dakota. He represented the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in a business deal with a now-defunct Iowa software company. The company "offered software that potentially could be used to store information about a person's ancestry and verify whether that person was a bona fide member of an Indian tribe."

The rather complex set of facts alleged he engaged in unauthorized communications with a company representative while the company was represented by counsel and made knowing false statements in the course of the conversation.

The court:

...this matter requires us to consider what was said or not said in a few oral communications. For reasons we have discussed, as we reconstruct what happened in those conversations, we are unable to conclude by the required convincing preponderance of the evidence that [the attorney] violated [the charged rules].

The court declined to consider aggravating factors in the manner that the attorney defended the charges, as there were no rule violations. (Mike Frisch)


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