Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Charges of Unprofessional Conduct In Panel Case No. 44387

Supreme Court of Minnesota

August 14, 2019

In re Charges of Unprofessional Conduct in Panel Case No. 44387

          Original Jurisdiction Office of Appellate Courts

          Appellant Attorney, pro se.

          Susan M. Humiston, Director, Aaron D. Sampsel, Assistant Director, Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for respondent.

         SYLLABUS

         1. A panel of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board did not clearly err by finding that appellant attorney failed to return client property and conditioned return of that property on the client paying outstanding fees, thereby violating Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.15(c)(4), 1.16(d), and 1.16(g).

         2. A panel of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board did not clearly err by finding that appellant attorney failed to maintain an accurate client subsidiary ledger and commingled an excessive amount of personal funds in the attorney's trust account, thereby violating Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.15(a)(1) as interpreted by Appendix 1, 1.15(c)(3), and 1.15(h).

         3. In this case, a private admonition is the appropriate discipline. Private admonition affirmed.

         Considered and decided by the court without oral argument.

          OPINION

          Per Curiam

         In this discipline case, an attorney challenges the findings made by a panel of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board and the discipline imposed. We conclude that the panel's findings are supported by the evidence and are not clearly erroneous, and that the appropriate discipline is a private admonition.

         FACTS

         In 2010, W.Y. purchased 14.63 acres of land from J.Y. W.Y.'s mortgage company refused to give him a mortgage unless the property was split into two pieces: Parcel A, which contained the homestead residence, and Parcel B, which contained several buildings used for farm operations. At the closing J.Y. refused to give W.Y. a warranty deed for Parcel B.

         In April 2011, appellant attorney (Attorney) was retained to represent W.Y. in an action to obtain title to Parcel B. The dispute between W.Y. and J.Y. was resolved via mediation in August 2012. Afterward, J.Y. signed a warranty deed conveying Parcel B to W.Y., which was notarized by the mediator. The mediator mailed the deed and the abstract of title to Attorney several weeks later.

         Attorney subsequently presented W.Y. with a bill for attorney fees and costs in the amount of $327, 940.88. By early 2013, W.Y. had paid only approximately $2, 800, missing several scheduled payments. On February 8, 2013, W.Y. wrote to Attorney and requested that he return the Parcel B deed and abstract. W.Y. gave Attorney one week to do so.

         On February 11, 2013, Attorney sent a letter to W.Y. ending his representation in the Parcel B matter due to nonpayment of fees. On February 12, Attorney sent another letter to W.Y. stating that, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 481.13 (2018), Attorney had filed an attorney's lien against Parcel A, Parcel B, and several items of W.Y.'s personal property- including the Parcel B deed and abstract. On February 13, Attorney sent a third letter to W.Y. in which he (1) affirmed receipt of W.Y.'s letter requesting the Parcel B deed and abstract; (2) restated that he had filed an attorney's lien against W.Y. for unpaid invoices; and (3) declined to return the warranty deed and abstract of title to W.Y. until either the amount owed was paid or the court issued an order regarding these documents.

         On April 23, 2013, pursuant to the attorney-lien statute, Minn. Stat. § 481.13, subd. 1(c), the district court held a hearing on Attorney's motion to establish and determine the amount of his attorney's lien. The district court issued an order establishing an attorney's lien on July 17, 2013. The district court concluded, however, that Attorney could not assert an attorney lien on the warranty deed and the abstract, citing both the abstract-transfer statute, Minn. Stat. § 386.375, subd. 1(b)-(c) (2018), and Minn. R. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.