In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Todd Curtis Pearson, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 0230935
Jurisdiction Office of Appellate Courts
M. Humiston, Director, Cassie Hanson, Senior Assistant
Director, Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, for
Curtis Pearson, Wayzata, Minnesota, pro se.
public reprimand and 1 year of unsupervised probation is
warranted for an attorney who did not keep required
trust-account books and records and failed to cooperate with
a disciplinary investigation.
Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility
filed a petition for disciplinary action against Todd Curtis
Pearson, alleging professional misconduct for a trust-account
violation and failure to cooperate with the Director's
investigation. The referee determined that Pearson violated
several rules of professional conduct and recommended that we
impose a public reprimand and 1 year of unsupervised
probation for Pearson's misconduct. We adopt the
Curtis Pearson has been licensed to practice law in Minnesota
since October 23, 1992. In November 2014, Pearson began work
as a full-time contract attorney doing document review for
Special Counsel, a legal-staffing firm. After his transition
to contract work, Pearson no longer provided legal services
directly to members of the public. The balance in
Pearson's client trust account with Wells Fargo Bank at
the end of 2014 was $6.02, an amount not owed to any client.
February 2015, a former client satisfied an outstanding
invoice by wiring $5, 744.00 into Pearson's trust
account. That same day, Pearson wired the $5, 744.00 out of
his trust account into his personal account, for which Wells
Fargo Bank assessed a $15 wire-transfer charge. As a result
of the wire-transfer charge, Pearson overdrew his trust
account. Wells Fargo Bank notified both Pearson and the
Director of the overdraft. Pearson immediately deposited $50
in his trust account to restore a positive balance. The
notification, however, caused the Director to initiate an
inquiry into Pearson's trust-account overdraft. The
Director sent a letter to Pearson's office address in
Minnetonka, requesting an explanation for the overdraft and
copies of Pearson's trust-account books and records.
received the Director's letter and responded with a
detailed description of the transactions and 3 months of
trust-account bank statements. Pearson's response,
however, did not include the books and records that the
Director had requested. The Director sent a second letter to
Pearson, which once again requested copies of Pearson's
trust-account books and records. This time, Pearson's
response stated that he did "not have any additional
books and records."
Director sent a letter to Pearson explaining that Minn. R.
Prof. Conduct 1.15(h) requires maintenance of trust-account
books and records, even if account activity is minimal. The
Director included a sample client-ledger form and insisted
that Pearson "reconstruct [the records] at this
time." The Director received no response. The Director
mailed a total of four additional letters and a notice of
formal investigation to Pearson's Minnetonka office.
Pearson claims that he had not been reading the mail
forwarded from his Minnetonka office to his home address in
Wayzata and had assumed it was "junk" mail.
November 2015, the Director filed with this court a petition
for disciplinary action, alleging failure to cooperate with
the Director's investigation, see Minn. R. Prof.
Conduct 8.1(b); Rule 25, Rules on Lawyers Professional
Responsibility (RLPR), and failure to maintain trust-account
books and records, see Minn. R. Prof. Conduct
1.15(h). Pearson received personal service of the petition,
which he claims was his first notice of any correspondence
from the Director since the initial two letters. Pearson
filed an answer to the petition and finally produced the
requested trust-account books and records for the Director.
appointed a referee to make and report findings of fact,
conclusions of law, and a recommendation for discipline. The
referee conducted a hearing and concluded that Pearson's
conduct violated Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.15(h), Minn. R.
Prof. Conduct 8.1(b), and Rule 25, RLPR. The referee
recommended that we impose a public reprimand and 1 year of
unsupervised probation for Pearson's misconduct. The
Director urges us to double the ...