After numerous sanctions, an Iowa lawyer faces disbarment

After numerous sanctions, an Iowa lawyer faces disbarment

A point out panel is recommending that a western Iowa attorney be disbarred for a “long historical past of misconduct” that includes a dozen admonishments, reprimands or license suspensions.

The Grievance Fee of the Iowa Supreme Court docket is recommending the courtroom revoke the Iowa regulation license of Sioux Metropolis law firm Brien P. O’Brien.

Courtroom records reveal O’Brien has been certified to apply legislation in Iowa because 1996. Through that time, he has been repeatedly disciplined for violating the policies of expert carry out in Iowa and other states.

In 1998, the Iowa Supreme Courtroom Attorney Disciplinary Board admonished O’Brien for advertising specific, most important follow regions of personalized personal injury legislation, car accidents, work mishaps, and slip-and-slide incidents devoid of possessing submitted a certification of eligibility as to individuals parts of observe.

In 2001, the board admonished O’Brien for speaking about a lawful matter with a consumer in entrance of some others inside of his business office waiting around home.

In 2002, the board admonished O’Brien for cashing a check created payable to O’Brien and another personal without securing the endorsement of that person.

Also in 2002, O’Brien was disbarred in Nebraska for violating that state’s guidelines governing customer trust accounts and the apply of regulation.

In 2003, as a consequence of the Nebraska motion, the Iowa Supreme Courtroom suspended O’Brien’s Iowa legislation license indefinitely, with no possibility of reinstatement for at minimum 3 several years.

In 2004, O’Brien was criminally convicted of fraudulent methods — charges that stemmed from his failure to file Iowa money tax returns. That conviction resulted in the court docket suspending his Iowa legislation license for six months, but the suspension ran concurrent with the 2003 suspension currently in area.

In 2011, the board admonished O’Brien for failing to respond to a client’s request for an itemized assertion of the authorized solutions for which the consumer was paying.

In 2012, the board admonished O’Brien for emailing coarse remarks to a different lawyer, together with threats to just take steps that would serve no reason other than to embarrass or stress the opposing social gathering and 3rd-social gathering witnesses in the circumstance.

In 2013, the board admonished O’Brien for failing to file a petition to modify a kid-custody and visitation buy soon after accepting $2,240 from the consumer to do so.

In 2017, the Iowa Supreme Courtroom reprimanded O’Brien for neglecting a client’s divorce scenario, which resulted in the situation remaining dismissed.

In 2018, the board admonished O’Brien for failing to acquire motion in a client’s divorce, resulting in the circumstance remaining dismissed.

Board: O’Brien has not realized from past sanctions

The most latest grievance from O’Brien entails his illustration of Damon Krull of Woodbury County in a 2019 youngster-custody dispute. Krull paid O’Brien $2,750 as a retainer. Following making his original visual appearance in the circumstance, according to the board, O’Brien in no way filed any paperwork in the subject and under no circumstances communicated once more with Krull, despite the client’s quite a few cellphone phone calls and visits to his business office.

Krull at some point employed an additional attorney but O’Brien never refunded the $2,750 or furnished an bill for any expert services.

O’Brien also failed to react to the Legal professional Disciplinary Board’s inquiries about the scenario and offered no defense when the board brought the circumstance right before the Grievance Fee for a listening to. The board proposed the fee inquire the court docket to suspend O’Brien’s license for 18 months.

The commission, citing O’Brien’s substantial background of past violations, rejected the board’s recommendation.

With regard to the Krull case, the fee identified that “O’Brien’s involvement in Krull’s case caused much more damage than excellent to Krull’s desire … O’Brien never ever returned any of Krull’s retainer, and Krull experienced to borrow revenue to keep a new lawyer to signify him.”

The larger difficulty, the commission uncovered, was O’Brien’s “long history of misconduct with no mitigating things,” and it suggested the court docket revoke O’Brien’s license to practice legislation in Iowa.

“O’Brien’s steps affected Krull’s psychological health and led him to shed his task,” the commission stated in its advice to the court docket. “The Grievance Fee has serious doubts that O’Brien will improve his conduct when he has not uncovered from his numerous former blunders. O’Brien ought to not be provided the chance to further more damage upcoming consumers in the way that his steps harmed Mr. Krull.”

Just after the board issued its recommendation to the court, the Legal professional Disciplinary Board altered its position on the issue and submitted a statement in support of the proposed license revocation. “His license has been suspended 3 times, he has been reprimanded as soon as, and he has been admonished 7 times,” the board stated of O’Brien. “It is very clear that O’Brien has not figured out from his past warnings.”

The Iowa Supreme Court docket has nevertheless to act on the commission’s recommendation.

The proposed license revocation may possibly have very little useful result on O’Brien. A secretary who answered the mobile phone at his former regulation office mentioned Wednesday that O’Brien is now retired and is no lengthier practicing legislation.

In Iowa, the Legal professional Disciplinary Board investigates complaints of alleged unethical perform by Iowa lawyers, and may well dismiss, admonish, or reprimand people. In much more serious circumstances, the board — made up of 9 lawyers and 3 lay persons — can prosecute a grievance at a listening to prior to the Grievance Commission.

Associates of the commission, which is composed of 105 attorneys and 35 lay associates, listen to the problems prosecuted by the board and have the possibility of dismissing the situation, admonishing the attorney, or recommending that the Supreme Court impose a a lot more significant penalty these types of as a license suspension or revocation. The courtroom can then impose any type of discipline that goes over and above a personal admonition.

All disciplinary motion, other than the non-public admonitions, are described publicly.

 

Ferne Dekker

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