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Bar Counsel Report: August 2010

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bar counsel report
AuGuST 2010
SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA
RESIGNATIONS (VOLUNTARY, NO DISCIPLINE PENDING) Nevada Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 98(5)(a) states: Any member of the state bar who is not actively engaged in the practice of law in this state, upon written application on a form approved by the state bar, may resign from membership in the state bar if the member: (1) has no discipline, fee dispute arbitration, or clients’ security fund matters pending and (2) is current on all membership fee payments and other financial commitments relating to the member’s practice of law in Nevada. Such resignation shall become effective when filed with the state bar, accepted by the board of governors, and approved by the supreme court. The following members resigned pursuant to this Rule: Melvin Shaddix Hutson Ronald P. Platner William M. Raymond Janet M. Richmond Eleanor R. Minsky Susan Z. Whitney Judith Berman Greg R. Nielson Bar No. 9838 Bar No. 8612 Bar No. 581 Bar No. 5104 Bar No. 6065 Bar No. 811 Bar No. 6905 Bar No. 8592 Order 55938 Order 55939 Order 55940 Order 55941 Order 55942 Order 55943 Order 55937 Order 55944 Filed 7/2/10 Filed 7/2/10 Filed 7/2/10 Filed 7/2/10 Filed 7/2/10 Filed 6/2/10 Filed 6/2/10 Filed 6/2/10
SOUTHERN NEVADA DISCIPLINARY BOARD
LETTERS OF REPRIMAND File No.: 09-203-3356 Letter of reprimand imposed for repeated failure to designate local counsel pursuant to SCR 42.1. Attorney is licensed to practice law in Nevada but resides in Seattle, Washington. Court records indicate that Attorney litigates heavily in the Eighth Judicial District Court. Since Attorney resides outside of Nevada, he was required to either associate with local counsel or designate local counsel for service of process pursuant to Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 42.1 (Practice of attorneys admitted in Nevada but not maintaining Nevada offices.) On June 25, 2009, the ADR Commissioner sent the State Bar of Nevada a letter alleging that Attorney had repeatedly failed to comply with SCR 42.1. The letter noted that the Eighth Judicial District Court database listed Attorney as attorney-of-record in hundreds of cases, and the commissioner included copies of six (6)
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letters he sent Attorney wherein Attorney was advised of the need to comply with SCR 42.1. The commissioner also complained that Attorney had submitted an order in violation of SCR 42.1. SCR 42.1 requires that the associated or designated local counsel’s name and address appear on the pleadings and papers filed in Nevada. Attorney’s response to the state bar claimed that he was aware of, and complied with, SCR 42.1. Attorney noted that, until recently, Attorney B was local counsel and Attorney C had since substituted in for Attorney B in the pending cases. Attorney noted that, in one case, there was a non-appearance by both parties at an arbitration conference. Attorney claimed that a notice of dismissal had been filed with the court prior to the hearing, as the parties had settled the matter. However, the dismissal was not listed on the court docket and the purported clerical error resulted in the missed hearing. That matter, however, was not specifically referenced by the commissioner’s grievance. The state bar’s review of that case noted that, at the July 13, 2009 hearing, the commissioner recommended that the matter be dismissed, along with any existing or future
bar counsel report
AuGuST 2010
cases in which Attorney failed to comply with SCR 42.1. Attorney then filed an objection with the District Court, which subsequently affirmed the commissioner’s recommendations in September 2009. Attorney’s response also noted that, in regard to the six (6) letters the commissioner sent, Attorney subsequently filed a Notice of Association of Counsel in five (5) of the cases. Attorney stated that his practice was to file the notice at the time of filing the complaint. However, in these five (5) instances, the notices were not immediately prepared, which Attorney acknowledged was improper. In regard to the last of the letters the commissioner sent, which was dated April 3, 2009, Attorney noted that the Notice of Association of Counsel had been previously filed on January 29, 2009. In regard to the order the commissioner alleged was improperly submitted, Attorney stated that he did not believe that SCR 42.1 requires that the associated attorney’s name be placed on the pleading, although Attorney “agree[d] with commissioner that it would be good practice to do so.” Despite Attorney’s belief to the contrary, Attorney’s actions did not meet the requirements of SCR 42.1. As noted above, SCR 42.1(2) requires that: “[t]he name and office address of the associated or designated attorney shall be endorsed upon the pleadings or papers filed in the courts of this state, and service upon the associated or designated attorney shall be deemed to be service upon the attorney filing the pleading or other paper.” Accordingly, the Notices of Association of Counsel filed in each of Attorney’s matters did not satisfy the rule’s requirements. Further, the pleadings referenced by the commissioner did not contain the name and office address of the associated or designated attorney as required by the rule. The commissioner’s grievance also included printouts of numerous actions Attorney initiated in 2008. These print-outs indicated that Attorney failed to comply with SCR 42.1 in at least thirty (30) instances besides those discussed above, although it appears that when Attorney B took over as local counsel in or about July/ August 2009, a substitution of local counsel was filed in each of these cases. Attorney’s response denied the allegation that he failed to comply with SCR 42.1 to the extent alleged by the commissioner. However, the state bar confirmed the commissioner’s allegations by checking the Eighth Judicial District Court website.
Based on the foregoing, Attorney was REPRIMANDED for violating SCR 42.1 (Practice of attorneys admitted in Nevada but not maintaining Nevada offices) and RPC 3.4(c) (Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel: knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal).
File No.: 10-008-0358
Letter of Reprimand imposed on supervisory attorney for failure to supervise subordinate lawyer in firm. The Supreme Court filed an order removing Attorney and her employee attorney (“co-counsel”) as counsel of record, imposing sanctions and referring them both to the State Bar of Nevada. Attorney’s firm represented the appellant in an appeal. The appeal in question was docketed in the Supreme Court in February 2009. Since June 1, 2009, the court had directed appellant’s counsel to file the fast track statement. On August 25, 2009, the Supreme Court gave appellant fifteen (15) days to file the transcript request form, fast track statement and appendix. Conditional sanctions in the sum of $500 to the Supreme Court Law Library were also imposed. These sanctions were conditional if appellant could file these documents within ten (10) days or file a motion for an extension of time demonstrating good cause for the extension; likewise, these sanctions would be vacated if appellants filed the documents within ten (10) days or filed a motion for an extension of time demonstrating good cause for the extension. Appellant’s failure to comply may result in additional sanctions. It was not until September 15, 2009, that co-counsel untimely filed a transcript request form but failed to file the fast track statement and appendix. Accordingly, the $500 imposed by the August 25, 2009, order remained in effect. Co-counsel for appellant was granted ten (10) days to pay the $500 sanction and provide the court with proof of payment. Additionally, Attorney and co-counsel were granted twenty (20) days from the date of the order within which to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed as abandoned and why counsel should not be referred to the State Bar of Nevada for failure to comply with the court’s directives. The court cautioned Attorney and co-counsel that failure to comply with the order may result in the dismissal of the appeal as abandoned and referral of both Attorney and cocounsel to the State Bar of Nevada for investigation.
continued on page 36
August 2010
Nevada Lawyer
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bar counsel report
AuGuST 2010
On October 23, 2009, the appellant had filed a motion for extension of time to file the fast track statement and appendix. This motion was granted on November 16, 2009, and the appellant was given until November 20, 2009, to file and serve the fast track statement and appendix. Respondent’s fast track response would be due no later than December 15, 2009. By January 8, 2010, neither Attorney nor co-counsel had filed the fast track statement or otherwise communicated with the court. In Attorney’s response to Bar Counsel, Attorney took full responsibility for the actions emanating from her law firm. However, Attorney was not aware that she must minutely supervise another licensed attorney, particularly in a field in which Attorney does not participate, until the time for oral arguments. Attorney further stated that she had discussed the matter with co-counsel and taken additional steps to avoid any “future mishaps.” Based upon the foregoing, Attorney was REPRIMANDED for violating RPC 1.1 (Competence), RPC 1.3 (Diligence), RPC 3.2 (Expediting Litigation), RPC 3.4(c) (Fairness to Opposing Party or Counsel) and RPC 5.1 (Responsibilities of Partners, Managers, and Supervisory Lawyers).
DisciPline key
Resignation with charges pending: SCR 98(5)(b) Types of possible discipline listed generally: SCR 102 Attorneys convicted of crimes: SCR 111 Conditional guilty plea agreements (discipline by consent): SCR 113 Reciprocal discipline: SCR 114 Disbarred/Suspended attorneys: SCR 115 Reinstatement: SCR 116 Disability Inactive: SCR 117 Supreme Court Rules (SCRs): www.leg.state.nv.us/CourtRules/SCR.html DISBARMENT – License to practice revoked. SUSPENSION – License suspended for a time certain, ineligible to practice. More than 6 months requires petition for reinstatement and court order. DISABILITY INACTIVE – Ineligible to practice until further order of the Court. In the interim, disciplinary proceedings held in abeyance. INTERIM TEMPORARY SUSPENSION – Interim suspension based on showing of a substantial threat of serious harm to the public, in effect until further Court order, usually after hearing. RESIGNATION WITH CHARGES PENDING – Ineligible to practice. Requires Bar Counsel approval. Resignation is irrevocable, with readmission only possible upon application as a new admittee. PUBLIC REPRIMAND – Misconduct found and public censure issued, including attorney’s name and the underlying facts and charges. Published in Nevada Lawyer and made available to the press. Remains eligible to practice law. LETTER OF REPRIMAND – Lowest level of discipline. Not published, but disclosed upon request under the new rules. May also include up to a $1,000 fine and restitution. Remains eligible to practice. ADMINISTRATIVE SUSPENSION – Attorneys may be administratively suspended for failure to pay bar fees (SCR 98(12)), and/or for failure to complete and report the required Continuing Legal Education hours (SCR 212). While these are not disciplinary suspensions, the attorney is ineligible to practice law until the deficiency is remedied and the procedures to transfer back to active status completed as set forth in the applicable rules.
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August 2010
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36 Nevada Lawyer

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