February 29, 2012
Bar May Investigate, Prosecute Matters Not Alleged In Initial Client Complaint
The Minnesota Supreme Court imposed an indefinite suspension with no right to apply for reinstatement for 90 days in a matter involving the mishandling of a client's case and failure to cooperate with the bar proceedings. The court noted that the attorney had similarly mishandled 11 other cases for 8 other clients from 2003 to late 2009.
The attorney contended that the investigation into his practice beyond the four corners of the initial complaint was improper.
The court disagreed:
The Director's investigation was commenced pursuant to the complaint filed by a former client, not upon the Director's sole initiative. Based on the results of the investigation, which showed [the attorney] had failed to communicate with his client and mishandled his appeals, the Director had a reasonable belief that [he] may have committed similar misconduct in other appeals. The record supports the conclusion that the Director's additional investigation was reasonably related to the complaint, and was appropriate. We therefore conclude that the Director was within his authority to investigate all of the matters alleged in the petition, including those not mentioned in the client complaint that initiated the Director's investigation.
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