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In re Petition for Disciplinary Action Against Nora

Supreme Court of Minnesota

May 22, 2019

In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Wendy Alison Nora, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 0165906.

         Original Jurisdiction Office of Appellate Courts

          Susan M. Humiston, Director, Nicole S. Frank, Assistant Director, Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for petitioner.

          Wendy Alison Nora, Minneapolis, Minnesota, pro se.

         SYLLABUS

         1. The attorney-discipline proceedings conducted in Wisconsin were fundamentally fair and consistent with due process.

         2. An indefinite suspension with no right to petition for reinstatement for 1 year is not unjust or substantially different from the discipline warranted in Minnesota for knowingly making a false statement of material fact to a tribunal, and for filing three frivolous lawsuits to harass or maliciously injure another.

         Suspended.

         Considered and decided without oral argument.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM

         This case involves the question of whether we should impose reciprocal discipline on respondent Wendy Alison Nora. The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (Director) petitioned to impose reciprocal discipline in Minnesota after Nora was suspended from the practice of law in Wisconsin for 1 year, In re Nora (Nora Wis.), 909 N.W.2d 155 (Wis. 2018), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 139 S.Ct. 609 (2018). We conclude that Wisconsin's disciplinary proceedings were fundamentally fair and that the discipline imposed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court was neither unjust nor substantially different from the discipline that would have been imposed if the proceeding had been filed in Minnesota. We therefore indefinitely suspend Nora from the practice of law in Minnesota with no right to petition for reinstatement for 1 year.

         FACTS

         Nora was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 1975 and was licensed to practice in Minnesota in 1985. Nora Wis., 909 N.W.2d at 157. Nora has previously been disciplined four times in Minnesota for professional misconduct: three private admonitions, and one public discipline. In 1988, she was admonished for failing to deposit funds into a trust account in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.15(a); she was admonished twice in 1990, once for practicing law while suspended in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 5.5(a), and once for incompetence and representing a client despite a conflict of interest in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.1 and 1.7.

         In 1990, we suspended Nora indefinitely, with no right to petition for reinstatement for 30 days, for failing to adequately investigate, making misrepresentations (although the referee concluded that she lacked a dishonest or selfish motive), bringing frivolous claims, including litigation that was brought as a delay tactic, and transferring assets in an attempt to impede collection, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.1, 3.1, 8.4(c), and 8.4(d). In re Nora, 450 N.W.2d 328, 328-30 (Minn. 1990). We reinstated Nora in 2007 and placed her on supervised probation for 2 years. In re Nora, 725 N.W.2d 745, 746 (Minn. 2007) (order).

         The Wisconsin disciplinary proceedings at issue involve Nora's professional misconduct in defending against the foreclosure of her Wisconsin residential property, after she stopped paying the mortgage that she had secured from Aegis Mortgage Corporation (Aegis).[1] See Nora v. Residential Funding Co., LLC, 543 Fed.Appx. 601 (7th Cir. 2013); Nora Wis., 909 N.W.2d at 158. The law firm of Gray and Associates, SC filed the foreclosure action on behalf of its client, Residential Funding Corporation (RFC), a related entity of GMAC Mortgage Group LLC. Nora vigorously opposed the foreclosure, arguing that RFC did not have standing to seek foreclosure because the assignment of her mortgage to RFC was allegedly fraudulent and designed to avoid the effect of Aegis' pending bankruptcy. Nora, 543 Fed.Appx. at 601.

         In July 2009, D.P.-an attorney at the law firm of Bass & Moglowsky, S.C.-filed a motion for summary judgment on the issue of the foreclosure of the mortgage. In August 2009, Nora and RFC discussed a possible "Foreclosure Repayment Agreement" (the Agreement) that RFC had offered to Nora. On August 23, 2009, Nora executed a copy of the Agreement but also modified a number of material terms.

         On August 25, 2009, D.P. informed Nora, via a 4:20 p.m. email, that RFC had rejected her counteroffer and that "no settlement offer existed." The next morning, Nora faxed a letter and a copy of the Agreement to Judge J.C., who was presiding over the foreclosure action. The letter said that as a result of the Agreement, the proceedings in the foreclosure action" 'are stayed.'" Her letter implied that, even if the Agreement was not in effect, the proceedings must be stayed because an agreement was imminent.

         On September 21, 2009, Judge J.C. denied Nora's request for oral argument on RFC's summary judgment motion, but the judge extended her time to file a response to the motion until October 1, 2009. Nora did not file a response. Instead, 3 days before her time to respond expired, she ...


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