Thursday, January 12, 2012

Court Does Not Condone Behavior But Finds Insufficent Proof Of Ethical Violations

The Oregon Supreme Court has dismissed ethics charges against an attorney in connection with his efforts to collect a fee in a marriage dissolution matter:

Although we conclude that the Bar failed to prove the allegations against the accused by clear and convincing evidence, that does not mean we condone the accused's conduct. The accused turned a legitimate attorney fee claim for $24,000 into a multi-year proceeding that involved more than a dozen court appearences, ensnared multiple parties, and ultimately cost the accused and other parties mant times the amount that was originally at issue. However, the Rules of Professional Conduct do not, and cannot, guarantee that attorneys will act reasonably and professional in the multitudinous factual settings of litigation. As this court has noted, "[N]ot every negligent or unprofessional act, no matter how misguided, boorish, or rude, gives rise to an ethical violation." (citation omitted)

The court noted that trial courts have authority to sanction improper attorney behavior. Here, the attorney was ordered to pay attorney's fees of more than $20,000 to the attorney for his former client's spouse. (Mike Frisch)

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