June 15, 2012
As Serious As A Heart Attack
An attorney who is "no stranger" to professional discipline has been indefinitely suspended for at least two years by the Iowa Supreme Court.
The court imposed discipline based on a stipulation of the parties. The court reviewed the stipulation to determine both misconduct and sanction.
The evidence showed neglect, escrow violations and other misconduct.
Some of the client matters were active when the attorney had suffered a heart attack and underwent open heart surgery. The stipulation included allegations that he failed to withdraw due to his physical condition.
The court rejected the mandatory withdrawal charges:
...given [the attorney's] habitual neglect of client matters, the Board has failed to establish that [his] heart attack and subsequent surgery, and not his dilatory nature, caused him not to file [the client's] petition...It is possible [the attorney] would have failed to file [her] petition prior to [the petition of the client's spouse] even if he...did not have a heart attack.
The court noted that there is "very little case law" on the mandatory withdrawl provisions of Rule 1.16 based on physical condition of an attorney.
This is likely because such matters usually result in a disability suspension or voluntary retirement from practice. (Mike Frisch)
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