Heffernan, Matter of, No. C9-82-82

CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota (US)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation351 N.W.2d 13
PartiesIn the Matter of the Petition for Disciplinary Action Against Donald J. HEFFERNAN, a Minnesota Lawyer.
Decision Date06 July 1984
Docket NumberNo. C9-82-82

Page 13

351 N.W.2d 13
In the Matter of the Petition for Disciplinary Action
Against Donald J. HEFFERNAN, a Minnesota Lawyer.
No. C9-82-82.
Supreme Court of Minnesota.
July 6, 1984.

Michael J. Hoover and William J. Wernz, St. Paul, for appellant.

James P. Miley, Minneapolis, for respondent.

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

PER CURIAM.

Following a hearing on a petition for disciplinary action the referee appointed by this court, the Honorable Clinton W.

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Wyant, recommended that attorney Donald J. Heffernan be publicly reprimanded, suspended from the practice of law for three months, and then placed on supervised probation for a minimum period of three years. We adopt the recommendation.

Respondent Donald J. Heffernan has been an attorney licensed to practice law in Minnesota since 1966. Throughout his legal career Heffernan has devoted substantial time to pro bono work in the areas of civil and women's rights, mental health, and historic building preservation. Until 1979 respondent practiced law in partnership with other lawyers, but from 1979 through 1982 he was a sole practitioner in St. Paul. At about the same time that respondent was engaged in winding up the affairs of a seven-year legal partnership, closing the partnership offices, and setting up his solo practice, he was embroiled in a bitter divorce and child custody battle.

The petition for disciplinary action arises out of two complaints about Heffernan's handling of a decedent's estate. The referee found that respondent had violated specified rules of the Minnesota Code of Professional Responsibility by converting clients' funds to his own use; by commingling the funds of clients and nonclients from 1979 to 1982; by failing to maintain required books and records while falsely certifying that proper records were maintained; by neglecting the Plifka estate; and by improperly notarizing documents.

Respondent Heffernan was retained on May 1, 1979 to probate the estate of Lydia Plifka. By November 1979 respondent had identified the Plifka heirs and collected substantially all of the assets of this relatively small estate, and by March 1980 most of the expenses of administration had been paid. During August 1980 respondent began using trust account funds to meet his business expenses, drawing payroll and rent checks and even paying yacht club storage from the trust account. Over a 10-month period he misappropriated between $7,000 and $9,000 belonging to...

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21 practice notes
  • Practice and procedure: Patent and trademark cases rules of practice; representation of others before Patent and Trademark Office,
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • December 12, 2003
    ...See Wright v. Virginia State Bar, 357 S.E.2d 518, 519 (Va. 1987); In re Librizzi, 569 A.2d 257, 258-259 (N.J. 1990); In re Heffernan, 351 N.W.2d 13, 14 (Minn. 1984); In re Austin, 333 N.W.2d 633, 634 (Minn. 1983); and In re Kennedy, 442 A.2d 79, 84-85 (Del. 1982). Thus, Sec. Sec. 11.115(f) ......
  • Part II
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • December 12, 2003
    ...See Wright v. Virginia State Bar, 357 S.E.2d 518, 519 (Va. 1987); In re Librizzi, 569 A.2d 257, 258-259 (N.J. 1990); In re Heffernan, 351 N.W.2d 13, 14 (Minn. 1984); In re Austin, 333 N.W.2d 633, 634 (Minn. 1983); and In re Kennedy, 442 A.2d 79, 84-85 (Del. 1982). Thus, Sec. Sec. 11.115(f) ......
  • In re Disciplinary Action against Rooney, No. A04-1959.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • February 16, 2006
    ...indefinite suspension due to small amount of money taken, full restitution, contrition, and general good character); In re Heffernan, 351 N.W.2d 13, 14-15 (Minn.1984) (imposing 3-month suspension due to extensive pro bono work, personal turmoil at the time of the misconduct, and full restit......
  • In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Selmer, No. A06-2254.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • May 22, 2008
    ...misconduct. See, e.g., In re Wentzel, 711 N.W.2d 516, 522 (Minn.2006); In re Rooney, 709 N.W.2d 263, 272 (Minn. 2006); In re Heffernan, 351 N.W.2d 13, 15 (Minn.1984). We concluded that Selmer's most serious violation of the terms of his probation was the failure to pay the Wisconsin discipl......
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19 cases
  • In re Disciplinary Action against Rooney, No. A04-1959.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • February 16, 2006
    ...indefinite suspension due to small amount of money taken, full restitution, contrition, and general good character); In re Heffernan, 351 N.W.2d 13, 14-15 (Minn.1984) (imposing 3-month suspension due to extensive pro bono work, personal turmoil at the time of the misconduct, and full restit......
  • In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Selmer, No. A06-2254.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • May 22, 2008
    ...misconduct. See, e.g., In re Wentzel, 711 N.W.2d 516, 522 (Minn.2006); In re Rooney, 709 N.W.2d 263, 272 (Minn. 2006); In re Heffernan, 351 N.W.2d 13, 15 (Minn.1984). We concluded that Selmer's most serious violation of the terms of his probation was the failure to pay the Wisconsin discipl......
  • Petition for Disciplinary Action Against Olsen, In re, No. C8-90-1012
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • July 31, 1992
    ...privileged, extensive pro bono work performed had a deleterious effect on both his professional and family finances); In re Heffernan, 351 N.W.2d 13, 15 (Minn.1984) (attorney performed significant pro bono work, single misappropriation of $7,000-$9,000 an isolated incident in an otherwise e......
  • Discipline of Simonson, Matter of, No. C0-82-1654
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • March 25, 1988
    ...the lawyer but to guard the administration of justice and to protect the courts, the legal profession, and the public. In re Heffernan, 351 N.W.2d 13, 15 This court has found that disbarment is appropriate for extensive misappropriation of client funds, unless there are mitigating circumsta......
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