Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Bd. v. Axt, No. 10-0521.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtHECHT
Citation791 N.W.2d 98
Docket NumberNo. 10-0521.
Decision Date24 November 2010
PartiesIOWA SUPREME COURT ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY BOARD, Complainant, v. James Robert AXT, Respondent.
791 N.W.2d 98

IOWA SUPREME COURT ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY BOARD, Complainant,
v.
James Robert AXT, Respondent.


No. 10-0521.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Nov. 24, 2010.

791 N.W.2d 100

Charles L. Harrington and David J. Grace, Des Moines, for complainant.

John R. Becker, Dubuque, for respondent.

HECHT, Justice.

The Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board filed a complaint alleging the respondent, James Axt, breached ethical rules by committing domestic abuse and defying a related no-contact order. The grievance commission found Axt's conduct violated certain provisions of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct and recommended revocation of Axt's law license. Having respectfully considered the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation of the commission, we find Axt committed ethical violations and conclude his license to practice law should be suspended for two years.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Axt graduated from law school in 1978. After completing a master's degree in public administration in 1979, he entered the private practice of law and served as a part-time magistrate. Turning to the public sector in 1984, he worked as an attorney for the Iowa Commissioner of Labor for two years. Axt was subsequently employed for one year as the regional counsel for a farm credit association and for thirteen years as an administrative law judge. He resumed the private practice of law in Chariton and operated a small farm from 2000 to 2003.

Alcohol and depression have been chronic problems for Axt. He was hospitalized for depression in 1983 and 1987. In September of 1997, Axt committed domestic abuse assault against his wife and resisted arrest while intoxicated. Following his conviction for those offenses, Axt was admonished by the board. He was admonished a second time in 2001 for an intemperate outburst and use of profanity.

Axt's alcoholism led to further problems with the law. He was convicted for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol in December of 2001. While on probation for that conviction, Axt was charged with assault on a police officer and interference with official acts. Continuing problems with alcohol abuse resulted in the first temporary disability-related suspension of his law license in 2003 and treatment for alcohol abuse and depression.

Axt temporarily maintained sobriety after treatment, and his law license was reinstated in February of 2006. However, the period of sobriety came to end when Axt and his domestic partner engaged in a drinking binge lasting two weeks in November

791 N.W.2d 101
2008. Axt physically abused and injured his partner during that binge, and he subsequently pled guilty to domestic abuse assault with intent to inflict serious injury and received a suspended prison sentence in January 2009. This criminal conviction led to another temporary suspension of Axt's law license. See Iowa Ct. R. 35.14(1) (conviction of a crime that would be grounds for a suspension or revocation may result in a temporary suspension). A no-contact order barring Axt's contact with his victim for five years was made part of the sentence. When he violated the no-contact order in August 2009 by phoning the victim repeatedly from jail, Axt was charged and convicted of yet another crime.

A resident of a halfway house since the spring of 2009, Axt has been actively engaged in treatment modalities for his mental health and alcohol addiction. Weekly therapy sessions, attendance at multiple Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and active involvement in church programs aided him in abstaining from alcohol during the six months prior to the grievance hearing held on March 12, 2010. His recovery from depression is far from complete, however, as notwithstanding a regimen of anti-depressant medication, Axt was hospitalized after a Tylenol overdose in February of this year.

The board's complaint against Axt charged violations of Iowa Rule of Professional Conduct 32:8.4.

II. Scope of Review.

Our review of this matter is de novo. Iowa Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary Bd. v. Casey, 761 N.W.2d 53, 55 (Iowa 2009). Although we give respectful consideration to the findings and recommendations of the commission, we are not bound by them. Id. It is the board's burden to prove ethical violations by a convincing preponderance of the evidence. Iowa Supreme Ct. Bd. of Prof'l Ethics & Conduct v. Lemanski, 606 N.W.2d 11, 13 (Iowa 2000). This court may impose a lesser or greater sanction...

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25 practice notes
  • Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Bd. v. Taylor, No. 16–0130.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 10, 2016
    ...not constitute an independent violation of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct. See Iowa Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary Bd. v. Axt, 791 N.W.2d 98, 101 (Iowa 2010) ; see also Iowa R. of Prof'l Conduct 32:8.4(d). We therefore conclude the fact that the misconduct Taylor engaged in involved......
  • Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Bd. v. Bauermeister, No. 18-2219
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 3, 2019
    ...See Iowa Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary Bd. v. Cross , 861 N.W.2d 211, 230 (Iowa 2015) ; Iowa Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary Bd. v. Axt , 791 N.W.2d 98, 103 (Iowa 2010) ; Marcucci , 543 N.W.2d at 881. Sixth, he was cooperative throughout the disciplinary process. See Roush , 827 N.W.2d at 7......
  • Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Bd. v. Deremiah, No. 15–1917.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 26, 2016
    ...lawyers, or judges." Schmidt, 796 N.W.2d at 44. We made a similar statement in Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board v. Axt, 791 N.W.2d 98, 102 (Iowa 2010).These observations in Schmidt and Axt were used only in the sense that the specific acts of misconduct in question had no dire......
  • Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Bd. v. Kingery, No. 15–0673.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 30, 2015
    ...and his testimony that he would not drink again because he feared "losing everything"); Iowa Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary Bd. v. Axt, 791 N.W.2d 98, 103 (Iowa 2010) (acknowledging the attorney's "rehabilitative efforts in actively attempting to control his addiction to alcohol"); Iowa Sup......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
25 cases
  • Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Bd. v. Taylor, No. 16–0130.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 10, 2016
    ...not constitute an independent violation of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct. See Iowa Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary Bd. v. Axt, 791 N.W.2d 98, 101 (Iowa 2010) ; see also Iowa R. of Prof'l Conduct 32:8.4(d). We therefore conclude the fact that the misconduct Taylor engaged in involved......
  • Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Bd. v. Bauermeister, No. 18-2219
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 3, 2019
    ...See Iowa Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary Bd. v. Cross , 861 N.W.2d 211, 230 (Iowa 2015) ; Iowa Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary Bd. v. Axt , 791 N.W.2d 98, 103 (Iowa 2010) ; Marcucci , 543 N.W.2d at 881. Sixth, he was cooperative throughout the disciplinary process. See Roush , 827 N.W.2d at 7......
  • Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Bd. v. Deremiah, No. 15–1917.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 26, 2016
    ...lawyers, or judges." Schmidt, 796 N.W.2d at 44. We made a similar statement in Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board v. Axt, 791 N.W.2d 98, 102 (Iowa 2010).These observations in Schmidt and Axt were used only in the sense that the specific acts of misconduct in question had no dire......
  • Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Bd. v. Kingery, No. 15–0673.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 30, 2015
    ...and his testimony that he would not drink again because he feared "losing everything"); Iowa Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary Bd. v. Axt, 791 N.W.2d 98, 103 (Iowa 2010) (acknowledging the attorney's "rehabilitative efforts in actively attempting to control his addiction to alcohol"); Iowa Sup......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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