September 21, 2012
For The Absence Of Records
The Iowa Supreme Court imposed a 30-day suspension (rejecting the Grievance Commission panel's proposed reprimand) in a disciplinary case in which the complainant was the attorney's former paralegal assistant.
The court found two instances in which the attorney had mishandled advanced retainers. The attorney also failed to maintain required records.
The court noted that the found misconduct might warrant a non-suspensory sanction. However, because the attorney's records were so deficient "...we have no way of knowing whether the trust account violation outlaine [in the opinion] was an isolated occurence or a more frequent event."
Thus, the lack of records was treated as an aggravating factor.
This is interesting reasoning to those who follow the Inside Baseball of bar regulation. Often, the absence of records helps the accused attorney by making it more difficult to prove intentional misappropriation. Here, the lapse raised the sanction to a suspension. (Mike Frisch)
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