Disciplinary Action Against Shoemaker, In re, No. C6-92-2468

CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota (US)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation518 N.W.2d 552
PartiesIn re Petition for DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST James O. SHOEMAKER, an Attorney at Law of the State of Minnesota.
Decision Date30 June 1994
Docket NumberNo. C6-92-2468

Page 552

518 N.W.2d 552
In re Petition for DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST James O.
SHOEMAKER, an Attorney at Law of the State of Minnesota.
No. C6-92-2468.
Supreme Court of Minnesota.
June 30, 1994.

Marcia A. Johnson, Director, Lawyers' Professional Responsibility Bd., Martin A. Cole, Sr. Asst. Director, St. Paul, for appellant.

Michael J. Hoover, Minneapolis, for respondent.

Heard, considered, and decided by the court en banc.

OPINION

PER CURIAM.

On December 14, 1992, the Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition for disciplinary action against respondent James O. Shoemaker alleging

Page 553

misappropriation of client and law firm funds, falsification of trust account records, and failure to report the misappropriated funds as income on state and federal tax returns. In his answer to the Director's petition, respondent admitted these violations but claimed that depression, anxiety, and other psychological problems contributed to his misconduct. Respondent was temporarily suspended from practice on December 17, 1992.

Referee Russell A. Anderson conducted a hearing on September 9, 1993 and issued his Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation on September 28, 1993. The referee found that respondent, age 38, was admitted to the practice of law in October 1987. In March 1988 he was employed as an associate attorney in the Anderson Law Office in Le Sueur, Minnesota. His starting salary was $26,500. It had increased to $32,000 when he left the firm in July 1992. Respondent's wife taught in the public schools, earning $22,000 to $25,000 per year. Respondent represented clients in general practice, including business, family, workers' compensation, bankruptcy, employment, real estate, personal injury, and estate planning matters. He was active in professional organizations and community activities.

Between October 1989 and July 1992, respondent misappropriated $75,981.99 from the Anderson Law Office and its clients. The loss was not discovered until respondent had left the firm. The referee found that most of the misappropriations occurred when respondent negotiated client fee checks made payable to him personally, even though he was required to turn over all attorney fees and costs received from clients to the firm. In one instance, respondent received a check for $4,513.25 on behalf of a client. Although respondent was supposed to use this money to pay a debt owed by the client's former husband and the client's attorney fees and then distribute the remainder to the client, he took the check to the bank, had a cashier's check issued to the client for her share of the funds, and misappropriated the remainder. Respondent then paid the ex-husband's debt with a trust account check thereby creating an overdraft in the firm's trust account.

In another instance, respondent issued a $7,067.01 check on the firm's trust account payable to a workers' compensation client of the firm. There were, however, no funds in the trust account in which the client had an interest. Nonetheless, respondent had the client endorse the check, accompany respondent to the bank, purchase a money order, and then endorse the money order over to respondent who kept the funds. Respondent falsely advised the client that these actions were necessary to give respondent internal credit for attorney fees generated from his work. On another occasion, respondent issued a $10,400 trust account check to apply against his student loan obligations.

On November 20, 1992, respondent was charged with five counts of theft. These counts later were consolidated into one count of felony theft, Minn.Stat. § 609.52, subd. 2(1) (1992), to which respondent pled guilty. The trial court stayed imposition of sentence for 20...

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14 practice notes
  • In re Disciplinary Action against Rooney, No. A04-1959.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • February 16, 2006
    ...at 328-31 (disbarring an attorney for misappropriation, fraud, lying under oath, and false statements to the Director); In re Shoemaker, 518 N.W.2d 552, 553 (Minn.1994) (disbarring an attorney for misappropriation, submitting false expense reports, and active concealment of the theft); In r......
  • In re Farley, No. A08-1178.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • August 13, 2009
    ...led to the offense. Indirect causation, however, is not sufficient to justify a finding of causation under Weyhrich. See In re Shoemaker, 518 N.W.2d 552, 554 (Minn.1994). Thus, we conclude that Farley failed to satisfy two of the Weyhrich factors, and therefore his psychological disorder is......
  • In Re Petition For Disciplinary Action v. Lisa Jane Mayne, No. A08-1522.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • June 10, 2010
    ...indirect causation is not enough to justify a finding of causation under Weyhrich. See Farley, 771 N.W.2d at 862 (citing In re Shoemaker, 518 N.W.2d 552, 554 (Minn.1994)). If a lawyer's misconduct consists of failing to do something she is supposed to do-i.e., misconduct by omission-psychol......
  • Discipline of Hartke, In re, No. C5-86-1996
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • April 14, 1995
    ...as to the appropriate sanction. We first note that misappropriation of funds frequently warrants disbarment. See, e.g., In re Shoemaker, 518 N.W.2d 552, 555 (Minn.1994) (citing Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions 5.11 (ABA1992)). Violation of Minn.R.Prof.Conduct 1.8 prohibiting lawyers ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • In re Disciplinary Action against Rooney, No. A04-1959.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • February 16, 2006
    ...at 328-31 (disbarring an attorney for misappropriation, fraud, lying under oath, and false statements to the Director); In re Shoemaker, 518 N.W.2d 552, 553 (Minn.1994) (disbarring an attorney for misappropriation, submitting false expense reports, and active concealment of the theft); In r......
  • In re Farley, No. A08-1178.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • August 13, 2009
    ...led to the offense. Indirect causation, however, is not sufficient to justify a finding of causation under Weyhrich. See In re Shoemaker, 518 N.W.2d 552, 554 (Minn.1994). Thus, we conclude that Farley failed to satisfy two of the Weyhrich factors, and therefore his psychological disorder is......
  • In Re Petition For Disciplinary Action v. Lisa Jane Mayne, No. A08-1522.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • June 10, 2010
    ...indirect causation is not enough to justify a finding of causation under Weyhrich. See Farley, 771 N.W.2d at 862 (citing In re Shoemaker, 518 N.W.2d 552, 554 (Minn.1994)). If a lawyer's misconduct consists of failing to do something she is supposed to do-i.e., misconduct by omission-psychol......
  • Discipline of Hartke, In re, No. C5-86-1996
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • April 14, 1995
    ...as to the appropriate sanction. We first note that misappropriation of funds frequently warrants disbarment. See, e.g., In re Shoemaker, 518 N.W.2d 552, 555 (Minn.1994) (citing Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions 5.11 (ABA1992)). Violation of Minn.R.Prof.Conduct 1.8 prohibiting lawyers ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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