December 7, 2012
Lipstick, Pigs And Bar Discipline
With particularly sharply-worded language in a special concurrence and dissent, the Iowa Supreme Court has imposed an indefinite suspension of no less than six months of an attorney convicted of misprison of felony in connection with the representation of a client.
The attorney facilitated the overstatement of the sales price in a real estate transaction.
Justice Waterman's concurring opinion asserts that dissenting Justice Wiggins unfairly characterizes the underlying criminal conduct as "stealing" when the attorney did not steal "a dime." Rather, the dissent "gets the facts wrong, and then misapplies our precedent."
Justice Wiggins would impose permanent license revocation:
The majority avoids revoking [the attorney's] license by suggesting this is not a real theft. This characterization is akin to putting lipstick on a pig. The truth to this colloquialism is apparent: no matter how much lipstick you apply, it is still a pig...Stealing is stealing.
The court majority noted that the attorney has practiced for over 30 years without discipline, enjoyed a fine reputation in his community and devoted himself to a number of good works.
The same sanction was imposed in a second matter involving an attorney with over 40 years of practice and a strong record of community and public service. The attorney was convicted of making a false statement on a mortgage application. He served as a "straw man" for his client, the true purchaser of the residential home.
Justice Wiggins dissented and cited his reasons as reflected in the above dissent. (Mike Frisch)
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