Friday, February 2, 2018

Nowhere Man

The Nebraska Supreme Court has indefinitely suspended an attorney for at least two years

In the present case, the facts established by our order granting judgment on the pleadings show that Jorgenson violated the disciplinary rules in two separate incidents in the same year involving noncompliance and a lack of communication with clients, with the courts, and with the Counsel for Discipline. This represents a pattern of noncompliance with our disciplinary rules, and cumulative acts of attorney misconduct are distinguishable from isolated incidents, therefore justifying more serious sanctions. See State ex rel. Counsel for Dis. v. Gast, supra.

As an additional aggravating factor, we note that Jorgenson’s client, who was the appellant in the appeal to the Eighth Circuit, was left without counsel when respondent failed to appear for oral arguments before the Eighth Circuit. Rather than fully taking responsibility, Jorgenson blamed support staff which he evidently had failed to adequately supervise. Likewise, after receiving notification from relator that another client was seeking his file, Jorgenson took months to provide the file, blamed support staff for the delay, and minimized the importance of returning the client’s file.

We are unable to acknowledge mitigating factors, because we lack any record on the question. In the present disciplinary process, Jorgenson has failed to correspond with relator at several points, failed to respond to the formal charges by way of an answer, and failed to brief the issue of discipline as directed by this court. We have stated that responding to inquiries and requests for information from relator is an important matter, and an attorney’s cooperation with the discipline process is fundamental to the credibility of attorney disciplinary proceedings. See State ex rel. Counsel for Dis. v. Gast, ante p. 203, 903 N.W.2d 259 (2017); State ex rel. Counsel for Dis. v. Tonderum, 286 Neb. 942, 840 N.W.2d 487 (2013). In failing to file an answer to the formal charges, Jorgenson missed the opportunity to enlighten us about any additional mitigating factors or his current or future fitness to practice law. Failing to participate in the disciplinary process is a very serious matter. See id.

The case is State ex rel. Disciplinary Counsel v. Jorgenson and can be found at this link. (Mike Frisch)

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