In re Gillard

Decision Date06 September 1978
Docket NumberNo. 47309.,47309.
Citation271 NW 2d 785
PartiesIn re Application for the Disbarment of the Honorable Jack F. C. GILLARD, an Attorney at Law of the State of Minnesota and Complaint Concerning the Honorable Jack F. C. Gillard, Judge of the District Court for the Third Judicial District Before the Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards.
CourtMinnesota Supreme Court

Sachs, Latz & Kirshbaum, Minneapolis, for Board on Judicial Standards.

R. Walter Bachman, Jr., Admin. Dir. on Prof. Conduct, St. Paul, for Lawyers Prof. Resp. Board.

Thomson, Nordby & Peterson, Jack S. Nordby, St. Paul, for respondent.

Heard and considered by the court en banc.


The above entitled matter came on for hearing before the court sitting en banc on June 28, 1978, for review of the petition filed by the Administrative Director of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board seeking the disbarment of respondent. In an opinion rendered on September 16, 1977, this Court found the referee's findings and conclusions to be amply supported by the evidence but stayed the disbarment proceedings until the Board on Judicial Standards, to whom the case was referred to permit respondent to be heard on the question of his fitness to retain judicial office, made its own findings and recommendation to the Court.

WHEREAS the Board on Judicial Standards has afforded respondent due process regarding his fitness to retain judicial office, and

WHEREAS respondent's serious acts of misconduct make him unfit to practice law in the State of Minnesota; now, therefore,

IT IS ORDERED that respondent, Jack F. C. Gillard, be disbarred. Opinion will follow.


The above entitled matter came on for hearing before the court sitting en banc on June 28, 1978, on the recommendation of the Board on Judicial Standards for the removal of The Honorable Jack F. C. Gillard, Judge of the District Court for the Third Judicial District.

WHEREAS it appears to the Court, upon a thorough review of the findings and conclusions and recommendation for removal filed by the Board on Judicial Standards, the Petition to reject the Recommendation of the Commission filed by respondent, the briefs filed by the parties, and the oral arguments made to the Court, that respondent engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute, now, therefore,

IT IS ORDERED that respondent, Jack F. C. Gillard, be removed from his position as Judge of the District Court for the Third Judicial District. Opinion will follow.


We review the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of removal and disbarment filed by the Board on Judicial Standards (Judicial Board) and the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board (LPRB), based upon incidents of preappointment professional misconduct by respondent, District Judge Jack F. C. Gillard.

Upon thorough examination of the record and careful consideration of the arguments and explanations offered, we have concluded that the allegations of grave professional misconduct are substantiated by the evidence and warrant imposition of the extreme sanctions recommended. We therefore directed respondent's removal and disbarment by orders of June 30, 1978.

The suggestion that Gillard may have been guilty of professional misconduct was first made in early 1976, based upon disclosures and allegations made in the course of a criminal investigation of Jerry LaFavre, an Albert Lea resident suspected of insurance and securities fraud. Subsequent investigations by the county attorney's office and the LPRB disclosed other complaints of misconduct, warranting a hearing before the LPRB.

On October 27, 1976, we denied Gillard's petition for a writ prohibiting further proceedings before the LPRB, and on or about November 8, 1976, the Petition for Disbarment was filed. We appointed Retired District Judge Rolf Fosseen as referee, by order of December 14, 1976, and evidentiary hearings were held before the referee from April 11 through May 2, 1977. Eighteen complaints were originally in issues; during the course of the proceedings three complaints (6, 7, 8) were dismissed with prejudice on motion of the LPRB, two more (16 and 17) were dismissed by the referee as not sustained by the evidence. Referee Fosseen filed his recommendation for disbarment with this court on July 6, 1977.

We then considered the evidence relating to fifteen complaints of professional misconduct.1 So far as now pertinent, Judge Fosseen found:


Re: Financial Security Life Insurance Co.

"1. On October 3, 1974, W. Kenneth Irwin, President of Financial Security Life Insurance Company of Moline, Illinois, telephonically contacted respondent in Albert Lea, Minnesota. Mr. Irwin after introducing himself told respondent that he had been recommended by Jerry LaFavre, an agent of their company, as an attorney who could help his company gain admission in Minnesota. Respondent agreed to represent the company. The telephone conversation was confirmed by Mr. Irwin's letter to respondent dated October 3, 1974 * * * which contained nominal financial information regarding the company.

"2. During the telephone conversation aforementioned, Mr. Irwin stated to respondent that he `wants someone who is friendly with the insurance department — someone who knows his way around' * * *. Respondent testified his interpretation of Mr. Irwin's comment was, `Someone who knew how to make an insurance application — someone other than me.' Respondent first testified that the word `friend' didn't cause him to think of John Morrison, but admitted that on July 13, 1976, in a statement, he said:

`Mr. Irwin did make the statement to me that he wanted to have someone; that is, I\'ve got the word friend in the insurance department that knows their way around. And of course this is what made me think of Mr. Morrison, because I knew he had had this business with that mutual company. And that if anybody knew a law firm, I assume he has a law firm in Minneapolis, that does his work, that they would know how to do it.\' * * *

"3. Following several telephone conversations between Mr. Irwin and respondent, and several telephone conversations between respondent and John Morrison, respondent in late November or early December, 1974, set up a meeting of the three in Morrison's offices on the morning of January 9, 1975, at Wayzata, Minnesota. Respondent testified he told Mr. Morrison that he had a client who wanted to qualify his company in general insurance in Minnesota, and that he would like a conference with him and his client for some advice. Although it appears that respondent and Morrison had at least two telephone discussions relative to the matter, respondent testified that neither he nor Mr. Morrison mentioned lawyers, law firms, expenses or fees. Respondent further testified that the `idea of the meeting' was to get some idea about a law firm to contact, and to get some appreciation of the problems, because, he said, he knew nothing about making such an application as was being sought. Respondent acknowledged that other than contacting Mr. Morrison he had done no work on the matter, and that he had no idea as to the attorney's fees and expenses which might be involved.

"4. Shortly before noon on January 8, 1975, Mr. Irwin telephoned respondent in Albert Lea, with the specific intent of arriving at a mutually acceptable firm-fee for his services. Mr. Irwin proposed the gross fee of $3,000 which he told respondent had been approved by the executive committee of the company, and added: `And if his services required less time than this particular fee, that we felt that was all right. If it required more time, that was his problem'. * * * Respondent replied that $3,000 was not enough and that it would require approximately $15,000. When asked why such a high fee, respondent replied that `there were a lot of people that had to be taken care of.' * * * Mr. Irwin then told respondent that he would have a meeting with his group and would be in touch with him.

"5. Upon concluding the telephone conversation, Mr. Irwin immediately telephoned the company's general counsel, Mr. Clarence Christiansen, requesting he drop everything and come to the company's office. Mr. Christiansen testified that he was informed by Mr. Irwin that he felt `something was being asked under the table.' * * * Some twenty minutes later, Mr. Irwin and Mr. Christiansen jointly placed a phone call to respondent. After an over-the-phone introduction of Mr. Christiansen, he asked respondent what the $15,000 fee was going to be used for. Mr. Christiansen testified that respondent did not give him any direct answer. Mr. Christiansen then asked whether the $15,000 fee included his fee for services, to which respondent replied that it did not, and that his fee would be $1,000 to $1,500 in addition to the $15,000. The most specific answer Mr. Christiansen was able to get from respondent was that the $15,000 would be used for `expenses'.

"6. During the hearing, respondent testified that the $15,000 fee was necessary to pay `lawyers, auditors, certified public accountants and actuaries.' He also testified that he wanted to make the fee high enough so that there wouldn't be any loss on it. However, respondent admitted that at no time did he itemize expenses to Mr. Irwin or to Mr. Christiansen; that at no time did he state to either that he would be engaging any of the persons aforementioned; and that at no time did he contact any such persons.

"7. Mr. Christiansen under date of January 10, 1975, wrote to respondent (Petitioner's Exhibit GGGG) as follows:

`Mr. Jack Gillard Attorney at Law 216 East Main Post Office Box 947 Albert Lea, Minnesota 56007

Dear Mr. Gillard:

Since our telephone conversation of earlier this week in which Mr. Irwin and I talked to you, we have reviewed with members of the

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