Monday, May 21, 2012

Reprimand For Misconduct In Representing Son

A recent disciplinary matter is summarized on the web page of the Idaho State Bar:

The Professional Conduct Board of the Idaho State Bar has issued a Public Reprimand to Nampa lawyer [S.], based on professional misconduct.

The Professional Conduct Board Order followed a stipulated resolution of an Idaho State Bar disciplinary proceeding, in which Mr. S. admitted that he violated Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3 [Failure to act with reasonable diligence in representing a client]; 1.7(a)(2) [Representation of a client where there is a significant risk that the representation will be materially limited by the lawyer’s personal interests, including family and domestic relationships]; and 3.3 [Knowingly making a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or failing to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer].  

The Complaint related to Mr. S.’s representation of his son, G.S., in 2005.  In June 2005, G.S. was charged in Ada County with attempted strangulation, misdemeanor domestic assault and destruction of a telecommunication line.  The charges stemmed from an incident in which G.S. allegedly assaulted his then-wife, A.S, in front of their children.  A public defender was appointed to represent G.S. in the criminal case.  In July 2005, the attempted strangulation charge was dismissed and jury trial was scheduled for November 2005.

In September 2005, Mr. S. filed a divorce Complaint on G.S’s behalf in Canyon County requesting that G.S. be awarded sole custody of the children.  Mr. S. did not disclose the pending domestic violence case and instead stated that G.S. knew of no proceeding that could affect the divorce proceeding, including proceedings related to domestic violence.  Mr. S. also filed a Motion for Order to Show Cause, which the Court granted.  A.S. did not appear or file any responsive pleadings.  In mid-October 2005, Mr. S. filed an Application for Default but again did not advise the Court about G.S.’s pending domestic violence case in Ada County.  The Court entered a Default Decree of Divorce granting G.S. sole custody of the children.

In late October 2005, a pretrial conference was held in the domestic violence case, one charge was amended and trial was continued to January 2006.  G.S. subsequently relocated to Missouri to live with A.S. and the criminal charges against him were dismissed.

A.S.’s father filed a grievance against Mr. S. in October 2009.  In the resulting disciplinary proceeding, Mr. S. acknowledged that he knew G.S. had been criminally charged at the time he filed the divorce Complaint but stated he believed those charges had been, or would be, dismissed based on statements by G.S. and the public defender.  He acknowledged that he did not diligently review the divorce documents filed with the Court, investigate the status of G.S.’s criminal charges or correct statements made to the Court regarding the domestic violence proceeding.

The public reprimand does not limit Mr. S.’s eligibility to practice law.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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