Saturday, July 23, 2016

2015 A Banner Year For Minnesota Supremes When Hammering Lawyers In Professional Disciplinary Actions; Of Six Disbarred Attorneys, Three Got The Boot For Embezzling Client Cash

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Star Tribune reports:
  • Minnesota lawyers set a record in 2015, but it’s nothing to boast about.

    Sixty-five lawyers were publicly disciplined last year, breaking the previous record of 55 set in 1990, the Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board said in its annual report [].

    Among other disciplinary actions, the Minnesota Supreme Court suspended 47 lawyers in 2015, smashing the previous record of 27, set in 1990 and matched in 1995 and 1996.

    “I wish that we knew why there was a record year, but we don’t,” said Susan M. Humiston, who took over as director of the lawyers board office in March. “It really does appear to be the fact that more people were engaged in more serious conduct.”

    The office has a backlog of complaints to investigate, although it has made progress in reducing that number.

    Six attorneys were disbarred in 2015:

    • Jeremy Thomas Kramer of Owatonna lost his license for misappropriating client money, neglecting their cases, failing to communicate with them, failing to deposit all of their money into trust accounts, keeping money they gave him for filing fees, and failing to return their property.

    • Robert David Boedigheimer was found guilty of conspiring with his brother-in-law, a marijuana dealer based in southern Minnesota, to launder proceeds from drug sales through his St. Paul law firm.

    • John Tedman Heim of Rochester was found guilty of forging a client’s signature on a check and depositing the proceeds into his own business account for his own personal benefit.

    • David A. Overboe was found by clear and convincing evidence “to have had unwelcome sexual contact with multiple clients, including groping and exposing himself to them, and had offered to reduce his legal fees in exchange for sexual favors.” The alleged misconduct took place over 14 years. He also was found to have practiced law in North Dakota while his license was suspended.

    • Douglas A. Ruhland of Eden Valley lost his license as a result of his seventh disciplinary action since 1989. He represented a client with whom he had a conflict of interest without providing written disclosures and obtaining written consent; he misappropriated client funds, he failed to keep trust account records and books and he failed to cooperate with the lawyers board investigators.

    • Robert Andrew Huff lost his license in Minnesota after he was disbarred in Illinois, an action resulting from a 2009 conviction for conspiring to distribute a large cache of marijuana.

    So far, 2016 is shaping up as another busy year for lawyers in trouble. [...] As of June 14, the board reported 25 public disciplinary actions in 2016, including two disbarments, a dozen suspensions, nine reprimands that resulted in probation and two other reprimands..
    ***
    Misappropriation of client funds always leads to disbarment,”(1) Humiston said. Sanctions for other kinds of serious misconduct are less predictable..
For more, see Minnesota set a new record last year for punishing lawyers (The state Supreme Court disbarred six lawyers and suspended the licenses of 47 others last year).
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(1) The Clients' Security Fund was established by the Minnesota Supreme Court to aid those persons who suffer a loss because of dishonest conduct on the part of a lawyer during the course of an attorney-client relationship in Minnesota.

The fund may reimburse up to $150,000 for dishonest conduct committed by a Minnesota lawyer. It covers the loss of money or property resulting from lawyer dishonesty, but not because the lawyer acted incompetently, committed malpractice or failed to take certain actions.

To qualify for reimbursement, you must be able to show that the money or property actually came into the lawyer's possession and that the loss was caused by the lawyer's dishonest conduct.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

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