Committee on Professional Ethics v. Wright, 54185

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtBECKER
Citation178 N.W.2d 749
PartiesCOMMITTEE ON PROFESSIONAL ETHICS and Conduct of the Iowa State Bar Association, Complainant, v. Robert A. WRIGHT, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 54185,54185
Decision Date15 July 1970

Page 749

178 N.W.2d 749
COMMITTEE ON PROFESSIONAL ETHICS and Conduct of the Iowa State Bar Association, Complainant,
Robert A. WRIGHT, Respondent.
No. 54185.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
July 15, 1970.

Lee H. Gaudineer, Jr., Des Moines, for complainant.

Patterson, Lorentzen, Duffield, Timmons & Irish, Des Moines, for respondent.

BECKER, Justice.

This is a hearing on complaint of professional misconduct by respondent attorney, Robert A. Wright. Hearing was held before the Grievance Commission of the Iowa Supreme Court, Second Division. After hearing testimony and consideration of the evidence the five member commission unanimously found respondent guilty of substandard, unprofessional and unethical conduct in that he failed to perform his duty as a lawyer in representing his client. The decision and recommendation concludes:

'The Commission determines that the respondent, Robert A. Wright, should be suspended from the practice of law for a period of two years, effective with the date of this order, and further provides that after the expiration of the first twelve months of this period of suspension, on a showing made to the Supreme Court of Iowa, that acceptable restitution has been made to Mrs. Gertrude I. Hall, or her successors, or personal representatives, that the Supreme Court may, upon application of the respondent, reinstate the license of such respondent on such terms and at such time as the Court sees fit, but that in no event shall the continuous suspension of the respondent from the practice of law be less than the first full twelve months herein provided for.'

Respondent filed Exceptions to the Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Decision and Recommendation and the matter has

Page 750

been presented to this court for judgment. We adopt and act on the Commission's recommendations.

I. Since the decision is actually made by this court in the first instance, we review the evidence de novo. Supreme Court Rule #118.

Several rules to be initially noted are found in Iowa State Bar Association v. Kraschel, 260 Iowa 187, 148 N.W.2d 621, 625:

"A disciplinary proceeding is basically an inquiry into the fitness of a member of the bar, in the light of his conduct, to continue in the practice of the law.' In re Simmons, 65 Wash.2d 88, 395 P.2d 1013, 1016. This proceeding is not criminal, but is special, civil in nature, and has been described as like an investigation by the court into the conduct of its officers. State v. Clarke, 46 Iowa 155, 159; In re Stice, 184 Kan. 589, 339 P.2d 29, 31; * * *.

'The extent of persuasion required of the prosecution in disbarment proceedings does not vary according to the type of conduct charged, regardless of whether it amounts to a crime or merely professional misconduct. In re Disbarment of DeCaro, 220 Iowa 176, 185, 262 N.W. 132, 136; In re Farris, 229 Or. 209, 367 P.2d 387, 391--392.'

The Kraschel case, supra, also determines the degree of proof shall be by a 'convincing preponderance of evidence'. (loc. cit. 260 Iowa at page 194, 148 N.W.2d 621).

II. The complaint against respondent, Robert A. Wright, involves his actions as attorney for Mrs. Gertude I. Hall and his actions after he had ceased to be Mrs. Hall's lawyer. We considered the initial factual situation giving rise to the complaint in Hall v. Wright, 261 Iowa 758, 156 N.W.2d 661 but our consideration there was 'for errors at law' and was limited to the issues of fraud presented on the appeal. In making this judgment we must come to our own factual conclusions.

III. The record consists of the entire transcript and record of the case of Hall v. Wright, supra, and additional supplementary evidence from various witnesses and exhibits.

Respondent objected to introduction of the certified transcript of evidence in Hall v. Wright, supra. The conclusions reached by the jury and our affirmation in the prior civil case are not binding or conclusive on the issues examined here. But the parties may introduce the entire transcript of the prior case in which respondent was a party. We reach this conclusion in disciplinary proceedings independent of section 622.98, Code, 1966, and on authority of such cases as Re Santosuosso, (1945) 318 Mass. 489, 62 N.E.2d 105, 161 A.L.R. 892 and State ex rel. Nebraska State Bar Ass'n. v. Gudmundsen, (1944) 145 Neb. 324, 16 N.W.2d 474.

IV. We shall try to shorten our factual findings because they are set out in detail in Hall v. Wright, supra. In February, 1961, Mrs. Hall wanted to trade her home in Des Moines for a new home being built by one John Haskins. She was both a friend and former client of Robert Wright. She had a very limited income, was receiving Aid to Dependent Children but owned her own home, subject only to taxes and an $800 mortgage lien. She called Mr. Wright, told him of the arrangement under which the parties were to exchange properties and Mrs. Hall was to get $1500 additional cash.

Wright prepared the contract which was dependent on a favorable zoning decision on the Hall property. By early June the zoning was complete. On June 13,...

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9 cases
  • Hippard v. State Bar, S008378
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 11, 1989
    ...69 N.J. 69, 350 A.2d 483 [court conditioned reinstatement on complete restitution]; Comm. on Professional Ethics v. Wright (Iowa 1970) 178 N.W.2d 749, 752 [court conditioned reinstatement on "good faith effort" at restitution to former Contrary to the majority's assertion, a condition of re......
  • Committee on Professional Ethics and Conduct of Iowa State Bar Ass'n v. Crawford, 84-342
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 18, 1984 establish its charge by a convincing preponderance of the evidence. Committee on Professional Ethics and Conduct v. Wright, 178 N.W.2d 749 (Iowa 1970). We need not repeat the principles which apply in disciplinary cases based on failure to file income tax returns on time, as we have addr......
  • Discipline of Morris, Matter of, C1-86-1770
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • July 10, 1987
    ...of the prior action into evidence and allowing the parties to supplement it. See, e.g., Committee on Professional Ethics v. Wright, 178 N.W.2d 749 (Iowa 1970); In re Santosuosso, 318 Mass. 489, 62 N.E.2d 105 (1945); In re Strong, 616 P.2d 583 (Utah The second policy reason--avoiding inconsi......
  • Committee on Professional Ethics and Conduct of Iowa State Bar Ass'n v. Crary, 58926
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • August 30, 1976 a convincing preponderance of the facts and circumstances in evidence. See Committee on Professional Ethics and Conduct v. Wright, 178 N.W.2d 749 Respondent, who was himself involved in litigation with his former wife over their children, became enamoured with Sue Evans children by Maury......
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