Friday, January 18, 2008
Order of the Kneepads update: in two attorney discipline cases the Nebraska Supreme Court exuses attorneys' neglecting client matters and serial trust account violations with a short suspension in one case and a reprimand with probation in the second. Nebraska attorneys who might be trying to read the Supreme Court's tea leaves when it comes to discipline cases should factor in gender, ethnicity and how much the Bar needs the attorneys to represent our widows and orphans. Those attorneys appear to survive serious ethical lapses with negligible discipline. State ex rel. Counsel for Dis. v. Zendejas, S-06-269, 274 Neb. 829. Eduardo Zendejas appears before Native American Courts advocating for juveniles and family members. the Nebraska Supreme Court Minority and Justice Task Force in 2000 also appointed him to be its project coordinator. A client paid him $14000 to pursue a post-conviction action but after two years, the client heard nothing from the attorney. When the client complained the best the counsel for discipline could do was send Rule 9(E) inquiry letters, which don't require the attorney to immediately respond. Eventually the attorney admitted he should return most of the money to the client but even then it took him nearly two years to repay the client his retainer, less expenses. He also took weeks to actually pay the client after he told the counsel for discipline he had done so. Since the attorney was such a valuable resource for the Indian community the referee recommended a 30 day suspension. The Nebraska Supreme Court cracks the whip and imposes a whopping 120 day suspension. State ex rel. Counsel for Dis. v. Pinard-Cronin, S-07-275, 274 Neb. 851. Attorney Carol Pinard-Cronion blew her clients statute of limitations on a simple automobile collision and also accumulated multiple overdrafts in her law firm trust account. Because she mainly handled juvenile matters and for other reasons, the Supreme Court reprimands her and imposes probation for 18 months.