Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Baby Conflict Leads To Resignation

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has accepted the resignation of an attorney

The Bar's complaint received by the Bar Association concerning her conduct and alleging she engaged in conflicting representation of clients. The Bar's Complaint based on this grievance alleges: (1) Claborn represented Daniel Geiser in a divorce case against April Geiser; (2) Claborn visited April Geiser in 2013 while April was incarcerated in order to obtain a waiver of her appearance in the divorce; (3) The documents April Geiser signed "gave up custody of her older child", stated Daniel Geiser was not the father of April Geiser's unborn child, April (hereafter Geiser) was not awarded visitation, and she was required to pay child support; (4) Claborn contacted Geiser in April 2014 to discuss Geiser's intentions concerning her unborn child and Claborn's representation of Geiser in a Judicial Review of her criminal case; (5) Claborn started discussions with Geiser about placing her child with Claborn's daughter until Geiser was no longer incarcerated; (6) Claborn delivered a letter to Geiser from Claborn's daughter stating Claborn's daughter would take care of Geiser's child; Geiser gave birth to a boy and she agreed to a temporary guardianship with Claborn's daughter and son-in-law; (7) The infant was released from the hospital to Claborn's daughter and son-in-law who started calling the child by a name other than the one selected by Geiser; (8) Claborn filed a petition for guardianship on behalf of her daughter and son-in-law; (9) The guardianship was granted and included language allowing for the adoption of the child; (10) Claborn informed Geiser by letter that Claborn's daughter and son-in-law were planning to adopt the child, and had decided to give the child a different first name because "they do not believe the child should be named after the biological father;" (11) Claborn then filed an Application for Judicial Review concerning Geiser's criminal case and the application was denied; (12) Claborn's daughter and son-in-law, as guardians, filed a petition for adoption without consent; (13) Claborn was not the lawyer for the guardians on their petition for adoption; (14) Geiser filed a petition to modify the guardianship stating she was deceived by Claborn, and Claborn had "only sent part of the guardianship papers to her to get her to sign;" (15) Geiser stated she was unaware the guardianship was not a temporary guardianship or that it included a possible adoption; (16) Geiser was released from incarceration; (17) The assigned trial judge denied the petition for adoption and characterized Claborn's actions as "the most dishonest, deceitful and unethical behavior" the judge had seen in several years; and (18) Geiser was reunited with her child.

The Complaint against Claborn states she represented Geiser in a criminal case while representing Claborn's daughter in the guardianship case involving Geiser's son, and Claborn created a conflict of interest in violation of Rule 1.7 of the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct, 5 O.S.2011, Ch.1, App. 3-A, (ORPC).  The Complaint states Claborn had conversations with Geiser when she lacked an attorney, and these conversations were false and misleading regarding Claborn's interests. The Bar asserts Claborn's conduct violated Rules 4.1 and 4.3 of the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct, 5 O.S.2011, Ch.1, App. 3-A.  The Complaint alleges Claborn's conduct was prejudicial to the administration of justice and in violation of the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct, 5 O.S.2011, Ch.1, App. 3-A, Rule 8.4(a), (c), and (d), and Rule 1.3 of the Rules Governing Disciplinary Proceedings (RGDP), 5 O.S.2011, Ch. 1, App. 1-A.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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