One of the principal requirements of this assignment is for you to contact your state bar association to determine how a citizen files an ethical complaint against a licensed attorney and what is the procedure followed in determining whether any discipline is warranted.
Your assignment is to address both of the following cases and the associated questions.
Jim and Mae Corn were married a year ago in a simple ceremony. Jim, a physician at the Medical Center, had met Mae indirectly online following an introduction by her sister, who was one of Jim’s surgical nurses. Mae was born in Mongolia and lived there her entire life. After their online introduction, Jim flew to Mongolia three times to court Mae and, shortly after the third visit, Mae returned with Jim on a travel visa to make plans for their wedding.
Following the May 2011 ceremony, Jim contacted Ed Fisher, a licensed attorney specializing in immigration law. He asked Ed to help them obtain citizenship for Mae and the attorney assured them that upon payment of the first $10,000 fee, the paperwork would be filed and the citizenship process would be completed in approximately three months. Jim paid Ed the $10,000 and the couple settled into a quiet comfortable routine.
In September, Jim grew a little concerned that he had not heard from Ed about the progress of the process. Several phone messages and emails to Ed’s office went unreturned. By October, Jim decided to phone the local office of the Immigration Service where he learned that no application had been filed for Mae’s citizenship. A visit to Ed’s office proved fruitless as the receptionist indicated that Mr. Fisher was in court and would not return until later in the week. The next day, however, Mr. Fisher phoned Jim at his office and left a message indicating that there had been a filing error but assuring him that the paperwork was now in place and to expect an expedited process.
The holiday season came and went and Jim’s concern worsened when, after the New Year 2012 he was, once again, unable to reach Ed by phone. Another visit to the office in March 2012 was more instructional. Jim learned that Ed was out of town at a drug rehabilitation facility in Arizona. Ed returned in June and Jim was told, by an associate of the law firm, that the money paid was never recorded in the firm accounts and that Ed had never filed any of the necessary paperwork for Mae’s citizenship processing.
The first week of July, Jim and Mae received a notice from the Immigration Service reminding them that Mae’s visa was about to expire and she would be required to leave the country because she had not provided a timely filing of a proof of marriage. The deadline for her departure was November 1, 2012. He has already been assured by the firm’s associate, that with payment of another $10,000, the citizenship filings would be forthcoming and Mae had nothing to worry about. Jim paid the additional money, verified that the paperwork process had begun and contacts you, asking for your assistance. Jim is interested in seeking disciplinary action against Ed, through the state bar association.
• Using your knowledge of the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility and your familiarity with the process of filing complaints with the state bar, outline for Jim the ethical obligation Ed had and which sections of the Model Rules were violated.
• Additionally, identify for Jim what process he should take to formalize his complaint with the state bar.
Monte Blatchford was what is commonly known as a “jailhouse lawyer”. He was a guy who hung out around the county courthouse and local jail in search of defendants in search of legal counsel. Over the years, he had developed a relationship with many of the local correction facility officers and residents and had a convivial and helpful relationship with many of them, on both sides of the bars.
One day, Monte was approached by an agent of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration who offered cash for information obtained from the inmates of the county jail. It seemed that the agent had reason to suspect that Caesar Contrarez, an inmate doing 5 to 10 years for assault, was running a street meth business from behind the jailhouse walls. Monte was told that he would be paid $50000 for information leading to both the interruption of the meth traffic in town and to charges being successfully levied against Contrarez.
Over the next several weeks, Monte used his friendship with the staff and other inmates to insinuate himself into Contrarez’ inner circle. Soon, Contrarez was confiding in him his concern that other members of a rival gang were moving into his territory to take over the drug trade while he rotted in jail. Monte assured him that he would be able to get him a shortened sentence, but that he would need important and detailed information first. Contrarez offered to pay him some money, but Monte refused, saying that it would be better for them both if they did not have an attorney-client relationship. Contrarez eventually trusted Monte enough to share details about his drug operation, delivery schedule, and suppliers; information which was immediately translated to the DEA.
Monte was paid $50000 for the information, which led to several additional drug-related arrests and led to the filing of additional and successful charges against Contrarez. Contrarez now contacts you for advice.
• Please review the Model Rules and determine if Monte violated any specific sections or if he simply offended the spirit of the regulations.
• Discover and report any specific disciplinary action which would be applicable and provide your reasoned opinion as to whether Contrarez’ conviction on the drug trafficking charges should be overturned. For more information on State Bar Association visit this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_bar_association
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