Friday, November 30, 2012

Iowa Dismisses Charges Involving Complex Ethics Issues

The web page of the Iowa Supreme Court has a summary of issues presented in a disciplinary matter that is scheduled for decision today:

The issues raised on appeal include: (1) whether Iowa’s substantive ethics rules apply when an alleged ethical violation occurred during representation in a case that was pending in a different jurisdiction; (2) whether this case should have been dismissed under the comity doctrine; (3) whether the Grievance Commission exceeded its authority and determined substantive questions of tribal law; (4) whether ethics claims against an attorney, who was at all times acting as an agent for a foreign government, must be brought in the foreign government’s court system; (5) whether the Board needed new authorization to file a second action when a first action against the attorney had been dismissed and closed; (6) whether repossession is the practice of law in Iowa; (7) whether the Board provided adequate notice of its claims; (8) whether the commission erred in denying respondent’s motion to compel when the Board failed to provide a privilege log prior to the commission’s ruling; (9) whether the grievance commission erred in excluding as witnesses or barring respondent from calling as witnesses attorneys who are representatives of the Board; (10) whether the commission erred in ruling on motions before the due date for reply briefs. 


In addition to the issues raised in the briefs, the case also involves a motion as to whether the Board, or the attorney representing the Board, should be sanctioned for filing frivolous documents during this appeal.


The decision is now available. The court found that the attorney had not violated any ethics rules and dismissed the matter.


The allegations involved the removal of a computer server with software in which the client had an interest in a dispute with a company called DNA Today.


The court found that the use of "self help" was not prejudicial to the administration of justice and found

it unnecessary to resolve many of the rather interesting issues identified above. (Mike Frisch)

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