In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Hugh D. Jaeger, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 49529
Original Jurisdiction Office of Appellate Courts
Martin A. Cole, Director, Timothy M. Burke, Senior Assistant Director, Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for petitioner.
Hugh D. Jaeger, Wayzata, Minnesota, pro se.
Took no part, Lillehaug, J.
Disbarment is the appropriate disciplinary sanction for an attorney who engages in the unauthorized practice of law in violation of a suspension order for professional misconduct, fails to provide proof of notice of suspension to clients, and fails to cooperate with disciplinary investigations.
The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition for disciplinary action against respondent Hugh D. Jaeger. The petition alleges that Jaeger engaged in the unauthorized practice of law while suspended for professional misconduct, failed to provide the required proof that he notified his clients of his suspension, and failed to cooperate with several disciplinary investigations in violation of Rules 3.4(c), 5.5(a) and (b), 8.1(b), and 8.4(d) of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct, as well as Rules 25 and 26 of the Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility (RLPR). Because Jaeger failed to respond to the petition, we deemed the allegations in the petition admitted pursuant to Rule 13(b), RLPR. The Director recommends that Jaeger be disbarred. We agree.
Jaeger was admitted to practice patent law before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 1974 and was admitted to practice law in Minnesota in April 1977. On August 11, 2011, we suspended Jaeger from the practice of law for 120 days for neglecting client matters, signing documents without consent, failing to return client files, and failing to cooperate with a disciplinary investigation. In re Jaeger, 801 N.W.2d 185, 185-86 (Minn. 2011). Our order prohibited Jaeger from practicing law in Minnesota or any other jurisdiction, and barred him from acting as an attorney based on authority granted by the USPTO. Id. at 186. The order also required Jaeger to comply with the provisions of Rule 26, RLPR (requiring an attorney to give notice of suspension to clients, opposing counsel, and tribunals). In re Jaeger, 801 N.W.2d at 186.
Despite the order suspending him from the practice of law, Jaeger continued to represent clients and hold himself out as an attorney authorized to practice law. Specifically, between September 2011 and March 2012, Jaeger represented clients before the USPTO in nine trademark and patent matters. He filed trademark applications, an amendment to an application, and other documents on behalf of his clients and identified himself as the attorney for each client and the person to whom correspondence should be sent. Jaeger also continued to use the same attorney letterhead that he used before his suspension.
Additionally, Jaeger failed to provide the Director with the required proof of notice to his clients of his suspension. Although Jaeger provided the Director with an affidavit stating that he notified his clients of his suspension, he did not provide copies of the notice letters or proof of mailing by certified mail as required by Rule 26(e), RLPR.
Jaeger also failed to respond to the Director's repeated requests for information related to several disciplinary investigations. In particular, the Director provided Jaeger with notices of investigation into several matters, including: (1) his efforts to hire a law clerk while suspended; (2) his unauthorized practice of law; (3) a complaint filed against him by the USPTO; and (4) a complaint filed against him by an individual. The notices requested that Jaeger provide certain written information in response. But Jaeger failed to provide the information despite repeated requests from the Director and did not meaningfully respond to or communicate with the Director about the investigations.
The Director filed a petition for disciplinary action against Jaeger, which was served on Jaeger on June 28, 2012. Jaeger failed to respond to the petition. Therefore, on September 18, 2012, we ordered that the allegations against Jaeger in the petition be deemed admitted and that the parties submit written proposals on the proper discipline. The Director filed a memorandum of law requesting that Jaeger be disbarred. Jaeger did not file a response; instead, he sent several faxes asking for additional time. We granted Jaeger's first request for an extension of time, but denied the remaining ...