June 12, 2012
Ohio Supreme Court Proposes CLE Changes
The web page of the Ohio Supreme Court reports:
Proposed continuing legal education (CLE) changes announced today by the Ohio Supreme Court would double the number of online credit hours attorneys could earn, allow attorneys to earn a portion of their CLE hours by engaging in approved pro bono activities, and eliminate the requirement to file final reporting transcripts.
The Ohio Supreme Court will accept public comment until July 10 on the proposed changes.
According to Attorney Services Director Susan Christoff, the proposed changes to Gov. Bar R. X resulted from a year-long study by the Commission on Continuing Legal Education and incorporated feedback from a survey of the state’s judges and active attorneys about what changes they would like made to CLE requirements.
Under the proposed rule changes, the self-study credit hours an attorney could earn each biennial period would increase from 6 to 12 hours.
As for pro bono credit, attorneys could receive 1 hour of CLE credit for every 6 hours of pro bono service up to a maximum of 6 credit hours for service performed during a biennial compliance period. To be eligible for such credit, the attorney’s pro bono service must be verified by a bar association or other organization recognized by the commission as providing pro bono programs and services in Ohio.
Attorneys still will be required to earn 24 hours every 2 years and be subject to monetary sanction and suspension for failing to meet the minimum hour requirement. However, attorneys no longer would be required to file a final reporting transcript.
Several other CLE changes are proposed as well.
- Credit could be awarded for presentations that occur concurrent with the consumption of a meal.
- The range of recommended sanction fines for noncompliant attorneys would be lowered for hour deficiencies with the upper limit reduced from $500 to $300.
- The time deadline in which attorneys would need to cure their hour deficiencies would be moved up by almost a month.
As for judges, they would be required to obtain 3 hours of “judicial conduct” instruction through courses offered by the Judicial College. Judicial conduct includes instruction on judicial ethics, professionalism, access to justice and fairness in the courts, and/or alcoholism, substance abuse, or mental health issues. Judges would no longer be required to take 2 separate hours of instruction on access to justice and fairness in the course but may include such instruction toward their 3-hour judicial conduct requirement.
Access the text of the proposed CLE changes.
June 11, 2012
OK To Sue Mentor
The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department held that a plaintiff stated a valid cause of action under the following circumstances:
The following facts are undisputed: In 2002, plaintiff, a newly admitted
attorney, placed an advertisement in the New York Law Journal seeking a
mentorship opportunity with an experienced solo practitioner in order to gain
trial experience. Defendant responded to the advertisement and the parties met.
Subsequently, plaintiff saw an advertisement in the Journal placed by a Bronx
solo practitioner looking to refer cases out to other experienced attorneys.
Defendant met with the Bronx practitioner and agreed to act as trial counsel for
the Bronx attorney's clients with a 40% referral fee payable to the Bronx
attorney. It is further undisputed that plaintiff referred at least two cases to
defendant's law office, and that he conducted some depositions for cases on
which defendant was working, and drafted some bills of particulars — even though
plaintiff had not litigated any personal injury cases prior to meeting
defendant. Plaintiff received some payments from defendant which defendant
characterized as mostly for per diem work. Eventually, however, according to
plaintiff, the payments ceased.
In August 2006, plaintiff filed a summons and complaint alleging 10 causes of
action as follows: (1) breach of an oral partnership agreement; (2) breach of an
oral agreement; (3) fraud; (4) an accounting; (5) unjust enrichment; (6) fraud
in the inducement; (7) breach of fiduciary duty; (8) estoppel; (9) contract
implied in the law based on past performance; and (10) quantum meruit.
Plaintiff alleged, inter alia, that defendant had proposed that they should work
together as partners in a personal injury law practice with each having an equal
share of the profits gained from the cases they worked on jointly. Plaintiff
further alleged that between 2002 and 2005 he worked on more than 100 personal
injury cases for defendant, expended approximately 500 hours in connection with
these cases, and contributed $5,000 in capital to the partnership
The quantum meruit claim survives:
In the absence of a valid contract, plaintiff, however, does set forth a
prima facie case for recovery in quantum meruit. It is hornbook law that in
order to establish a claim in quantum meruit, a claimant must establish "(1) the
performance of services in good faith; (2) the acceptance of the services by the
person to whom they are rendered; (3) an expectation of compensation therefor;
and (4) the reasonable value of the services" (Soumayah v Minnelli, 41 AD3d 390, 391 ; see 22A NY Jur2d Contracts § 610;). Defendant agreed that plaintiff
worked for him in some capacity on a certain number of cases. Further, plaintiff
points to two e-mails purportedly sent by defendant to plaintiff in August 2005
acknowledging that defendant owes plaintiff certain fees on cases after they
"come to trial." Thus, plaintiff may recover based on quantum meruit for work he
performed without compensation on behalf of defendant.
The Sixth Sense Not Shared By Supremes
The United States Supreme Court today issued a per curiam reversal of the grant of habeas corpus relief to a criminal defendant.
The opinion states that the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit's decision is a "textbook example of what the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 proscribes" in that the lower court second-guessed the reasonable decision of the Kentucky Supreme Court on "the flimsiest of rationales."
There were two issues that led the Sixth Circuit to grant relief. One dealt with alleged improper arguments by the prosecutor. (Mike Frisch)
First Discipline In 62 Years Of Practice
David Cameron Carr picked up this case summary from the June 2012 edition of the California Bar Journal:
[An attorney] was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual two-year suspension and until he makes restitution and proves his rehabilitation and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Jan. 12, 2012.
[The attorney] stipulated to 69 counts of misconduct in 14 loan modification cases. In each case, he violated a state law that prohibits taking advance fees for offering to perform a mortgage loan modification. He also did not provide the required statement that individuals do not need to hire a third party to arrange for a loan modification, but can call lenders directly or use nonprofit housing counseling agencies.
[He] also charged illegal or unconscionable fees, failed to account for fees, release client files or keep clients informed of significant developments in their cases, and he practiced in jurisdictions (Nevada, Florida, Massachusetts and Virginia) where he was not admitted.
He agreed to pay $35,825 in restitution.
In mitigation, [the attorney] had no discipline record in more than 62 years of practice.
The Clients Were Named Feeback
The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board disagreed with its hearing committee's favorable reinstatement recommendation. The board recommends that the petition be denied.
The attorney was disbarred as a result of a public bribery conviction. He representated a couple who owned a used car dealership. The crime involved his dealings with a former employee of the clients, who had the unusual name of Feeback.
The former empoyee had written a letter claiming criminal conduct by the clients.
The board here found that the petitioner had practiced law after his disbarment. (Mike Frisch)
Making Matters Worse
A Louisiana Hearing Committee has recommended a suspension of a year and a day, with all but six months suspended, and probation for two years, in a matter involviong a domestic abuse conviction.
The attorney went to his ex-wife's residence to pick up his minor daughter for a visitation with him. The violence took place whren he was advised that the daughter did not wish to go with him. A Louisiana State tropper was at the house but did not witness the assault.
The attorney was convicted at a three day trial.
The attorney made matters worse by attempting to influence the testimony of his ex-wife. He suggested to her that it was not in her financial interest for him to be disbarred.
He has several businesses other than his law practice, including a car dealership, liquor store, rental property, land developmwnt and livestock. (Mike Frisch)
June 10, 2012
Far More Than A Love Tap Gets Attorney Suspended
A Rochester attorney has been suspended for two years by the New York Appellate Division for the Fourth Judicial Department for his "sexually inappropriate conduct during a pretrial conference."
The incident took place between the respondent and opposing counsel when the justice left chambers to attend to another matter.
The attorney had denied the charges, admitting only that he had made crude and inappropriate remarks and had touched opposing counsel of her shoulder in what he characterized as a "love tap."
The referee concluded that the attorney had exposed his genitals to opposing counsel, kissed her on the neck twice, and shoved his hands inside her blouse and bra and felt her breasts. He also made crude remarks about her anatomy.
The referee had rejected his "disingenuous and calculating" denial of the charges.
The attorney had previously been censured by the court and given a letter of caution for inappropriate behavior toward a client. He was licensed to practice in 1979. (Mike Frisch)