Friday, November 10, 2017
The Nebraska Supreme Court has imposed a further sanction on an already suspended attorney.
On June 30, 2015, Gast’s license to practice law in Nebraska was suspended because Gast failed to report his mandatory continuing legal education (MCLE) requirements and failed to pay his mandatory assessment to the Attorney Services Division.
Gast had previously filed suit on behalf of Connie Surber in the district court for Douglas County in case No. CI14-7634. Although Gast had actual knowledge that his license was administratively suspended on June 30, 2015, he continued to represent Surber in that case and did not inform her that his license had been suspended. Gast did not withdraw from representing Surber in the district court and did not notify the district court and opposing counsel of his suspension.
He was reinstated when he complied with the obligations and self-reported when the unauthorized practice was discovered by opposing counsel.
He was already suspended for attacks on a judge and frivolous litigation.
This decision represents the second time we have imposed disciplinary sanctions against Gast this year, following several decades with no disciplinary intervention. A court has the right to examine its own records and take judicial notice of its own proceedings and judgments in a former action. Burns v. Burns, 296 Neb. 184, 892 N.W.2d 135 (2017). Thus, in addition to the current formal charges, in our de novo review we consider the relevant facts from Gast’s previous disciplinary proceedings, as well as the aggravating nature of his previous disciplinary offenses.
Gast’s lack of participation in the disciplinary process is also a factor in our analysis. Responding to disciplinary complaints in an untimely manner and repeatedly ignoring requests for information from the Counsel for Discipline indicate a disrespect for our disciplinary jurisdiction and a lack of concern for the protection of the public, the profession, and the administration of justice.
Having considered the facts and circumstances of Gast’s case, the prior decisions by this court, and his failure to participate in the disciplinary process, and having weighed Gast’s present case in view of his prior disciplinary matter, we adopt Relator’s recommended sanction of indefinite suspension from the practice of law for a minimum of 1 year. Such suspension shall run consecutively with the suspension previously imposed by this court and shall commence on March 3, 2018. Any application for reinstatement filed by Gast after the minimum suspension period shall include a showing under oath which demonstrates his fitness to practice law and fully addresses the circumstances of the instant violations.
The case is State ex rel. Disciplinary Counsel v. Gast. (Mike Frisch)