In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Terri Lynn Fahrenholtz, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 0290828.
Jurisdiction Office of Appellate Courts
M. Humiston, Director, Timothy M. Burke, First Assistant
Director, Amy M. Mahowald, Assistant Director, Office of
Lawyers Professional Responsibility, Saint Paul, Minnesota,
L. Fahrenholtz, Moorhead, Minnesota, pro se.
the disciplinary proceedings in North Dakota were fair and
disbarment is neither unjust nor substantially different from
the discipline warranted in Minnesota, we impose the
reciprocal discipline of disbarment.
case involves the question of whether we should impose
reciprocal discipline on respondent Terri Lynn Fahrenholtz.
The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional
Responsibility (Director) served Fahrenholtz with a petition
for reciprocal disciplinary action after the North Dakota
Supreme Court disbarred Fahrenholtz from the practice of law
in North Dakota for misappropriating client funds and
abandoning the cases of at least eight clients, In re
Fahrenholtz, 863 N.W.2d 239 (N.D. 2015). We hold that
North Dakota's disciplinary proceedings were
fundamentally fair, and that the discipline the North Dakota
Supreme Court imposed would not be unjust or substantially
different from the discipline that would be imposed in
Minnesota. We therefore disbar Fahrenholtz from the practice
of law in Minnesota.
Lynn Fahrenholtz was admitted to the practice of law in
Minnesota in 1999 and admitted to the North Dakota bar in
2006. Fahrenholtz, 863 N.W.2d at 239-40. In 2014,
the North Dakota Disciplinary Board served a petition for
discipline on Fahrenholtz. Id. at 240. Based on the
investigation of a trustee appointed by the North Dakota
Disciplinary Board, a hearing panel found that Fahrenholtz
abandoned the cases of at least eight clients. Id.
at 239-40. The panel further found that, in one bankruptcy
matter, Fahrenholtz accepted a retainer from a client but
neither deposited the retainer into a trust account nor
refunded the retainer to the client. Id. at 240. In
other cases, Fahrenholtz failed to appear for hearings,
failed to file complaints, and failed to communicate with
clients about the status of their cases. Id.
on these findings, the hearing panel recommended that
Fahrenholtz be disbarred. Id. at 241. Fahrenholtz
did not object to the hearing panel's findings of fact,
conclusions of law, and recommendation, so they were deemed
stipulated by the North Dakota Supreme Court. Id.
That court ordered Fahrenholtz disbarred in North Dakota as
of May 7, 2015. Id. at 239, 241.
7, 2015, the Director filed a petition for disciplinary
action against Fahrenholtz, seeking reciprocal discipline
under Rule 12(d) of the Minnesota Rules on Lawyers
Professional Responsibility (RLPR). The Director failed in
her attempts to serve Fahrenholtz personally at her last
known address. The Director then applied to us for an order
suspending Fahrenholtz under Rule 12(c)(1), RLPR, which
allows for the suspension of an attorney who cannot be
September 1, 2015, we suspended Fahrenholtz and gave her one
year in which to file a motion to vacate the suspension
order. Fahrenholtz did not move to vacate the order. On
October 28, 2016, we ordered Fahrenholtz to file a memorandum
within 60 days to show cause why appropriate discipline
should not be imposed. Fahrenholtz again failed to respond.
Fahrenholtz did not file a brief, appear at oral argument, or
otherwise participate in this disciplinary proceeding.
issue before us is whether Fahrenholtz should be reciprocally
disciplined in Minnesota based on her disbarment in North
Dakota. Under Rule 12(d), RLPR, the Director may petition for
reciprocal discipline based solely on knowledge, from any
source, "that a lawyer licensed to practice in Minnesota
has been publicly disciplined . . . in another
jurisdiction." Unless we determine otherwise, a final
determination in another jurisdiction that a lawyer has
committed misconduct conclusively establishes that misconduct
in our reciprocal discipline proceeding. Id. After a
petition for reciprocal discipline has been filed, we may
impose identical discipline "unless it appears that
discipline procedures in the other jurisdiction were unfair,
or the imposition of the same discipline would be unjust or
substantially different from discipline warranted in
Minnesota." Id. ...