Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Bd. v. Templeton

Decision Date02 July 2010
Docket NumberNo. 10-0255.,10-0255.
Citation784 N.W.2d 761
CourtIowa Supreme Court


Charles L. Harrington and Amanda K. Robinson, Des Moines, for complainant.

Mark McCormick, Belin McCormick, P.C., Des Moines, for respondent.

WIGGINS, Justice.

The Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board filed a complaint against the respondent, Mark A. Templeton, with the Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa alleging Templeton committed various violations of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct. The commission found Templeton's conduct violated three provisions of the rules and recommended we suspend Templeton's license to practice law with no possibility of reinstatement for a period of two years. On our de novo review, we find Templeton violated one rule that requires us to impose sanctions. Accordingly, we suspend Templeton's license to practice law indefinitely with no possibility of reinstatement for a period of three months.

I. Scope of Review.

We review attorney disciplinary proceedings de novo. Iowa Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary Bd. v. Hoglan, 781 N.W.2d 279, 281 (Iowa 2010). The board has the burden of proving an attorney's ethical misconduct by a convincing preponderance of the evidence. Id. “This burden is less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but more than the preponderance standard required in the usual civil case.” Iowa Supreme Ct. Bd. of Prof'l Ethics & Conduct v. Lett, 674 N.W.2d 139, 142 (Iowa 2004). Upon proof of misconduct, we may impose a greater or lesser sanction than the sanction recommended by the commission. Id.

II. Findings of Fact.

On our de novo review, we find the following facts. Mark Templeton was fifty years old at the time of the grievance commission hearing. He is a graduate of Drake University Law School and became a licensed lawyer in January 1986. He practiced law until 2000. In 2000 Templeton took inactive status and began managing a newspaper distribution business. In 2007 he distributed newspapers in four states and personally delivered the newspapers in the Des Moines area.

Through his newspaper deliveries, he became aware of a house in the Des Moines area where three single women lived. The owner of the house, Mary Doe, was eighty years old at the time of the incident that led to this proceeding. The tenants were Jane Roe, a twenty-four-year-old nurse, and Paula Poe, a twenty-one-year-old intern at a local church.1

Beginning in March 2007, Roe began to hear what she thought was someone walking across the crushed landscape rocks outside her master bedroom and bathroom windows. These noises began to occur more frequently throughout the month of March. In April, as Roe turned off the bathroom lights, she looked out the window and saw a man duck, run from the window to a silver car parked in the street, and drive away. Roe observed this activity happen four to six times. Each time she saw the man, she called the police.

After repeated reports by Roe and her roommates, the police set up a surveillance camera to try to capture images of the man. The camera malfunctioned and failed to record any images of the trespasser. After the surveillance camera set up by the police failed, one of Roe's family members installed a motion-detection camera used for deer hunting on a tree outside of the house in an attempt to capture images of the person coming to Roe's windows.

On June 24 Roe's family was staying with her at the house. In the morning, Roe and her family were planning to go to the airport and leave for a vacation. Around midnight, Roe was in her bedroom packing for the trip when she noticed the motion-detection camera was flashing, meaning something in front of the house had triggered it. Roe looked outside, but saw no one. Approximately five minutes later, a car pulled up in front of the house and turned its lights off but shortly thereafter sped away. After the car left, Roe and her family removed the camera from the tree, downloaded the pictures it had taken onto Roe's laptop computer, and discovered the camera had captured pictures of a white male with facial hair and glasses wearing a dark blue or black baseball hat, t-shirt, and khaki shorts. Roe notified the police she had pictures of the person looking into her windows.

At five o'clock the next morning, Roe's family left for the airport. On the way to the airport, the family passed a neighborhood gas station. Roe's brother observed a man filling his car with gas who fit the description of the man in the photographs the motion-detection camera had taken the night before. The family obtained the license plate number of the vehicle and relayed this information to the police. A detective traced the license plate back to the registered owner, who informed the detective he had recently sold the vehicle to a friend, Mark Templeton. The detective searched for Templeton's driver's license in the department of transportation's database and located what he believed was Templeton's license. The detective compared Templeton's driver's license photograph with the photographs captured by Roe and concluded they were a match.

After determining Templeton was the primary suspect, the detective and Templeton talked on the phone. The detective informed Templeton that he had been identified as the individual who had repeatedly been looking into Roe's windows. Templeton admitted he had visited the house approximately four or five times to look into Roe's windows while he was in the area delivering newspapers. Templeton told the detective he has had a problem with window peeping his whole life and was relieved he had been caught because otherwise this behavior probably was not going to stop. Templeton also admitted he received sexual gratification from looking into Roe's windows but denied ever masturbating while doing so. We agree the evidence does not support a finding that Templeton was masturbating while looking into the windows.

Templeton promised to seek help and not engage in this type of conduct again. The detective informed Templeton he would talk with the victims before proceeding any further, but he could not guarantee the State would not pursue criminal charges.

During the time Templeton was looking in Roe's windows, Doe, Roe, and Poe were terrified. The women felt they were being stalked and were concerned the person looking into their windows was there to do them harm. Doe was so concerned about her safety she would call the police almost daily to inquire if the police had caught the perpetrator. Roe felt the perpetrator was invading her privacy and she was being taken advantage of as a woman. When she came home alone at night, she would call ahead so her roommates would be at the door when she arrived home. Roe also put blankets over her windows and began dressing and undressing in a closet that did not have any windows. Poe was so terrified by the incidents she quit her internship, moved home with her parents, and refused to participate in any proceedings against Templeton.

The State charged Templeton with one count of criminal trespass and one count of invasion of privacy. The county attorney later amended the charges to six counts of invasion of privacy-nudity, a serious misdemeanor in violation of Iowa Code section 709.21 (2005). During the course of the proceedings, Templeton sought treatment for the behavior resulting in his arrest.

On September 18 Templeton met with a sex-offender-treatment specialist who conducted a two-hour clinical interview, administered different risk assessment tests, and completed a risk assessment/amenability-to-treatment evaluation of Templeton. The specialist concluded Templeton presented a low level of risk for repeated abusive behavior and suggested that he participate in outpatient sex-offender treatment.

On November 7 Templeton pleaded guilty to all six counts of invasion of privacy-nudity. The district court sentenced Templeton to a period not to exceed one year for each of the six counts of invasion of privacy-nudity, to run consecutively, suspended this sentence, placed Templeton on probation for a period of six years, and ordered Templeton to complete sex-offender treatment as an added condition of probation.

Subsequently, the attorney disciplinary board filed its complaint against Templeton. The complaint invoked issue preclusion with regard to Templeton's conviction and alleged Templeton's window-peeping behavior and subsequent conviction violated Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct 32:8.4(a) (violating or attempting to violate the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct), 32:8.4(b) (committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects), and 32:8.4(d) (engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice).

At the time of the hearing, Templeton had completed the first two phases of a four-phase sex-offender-treatment program. He is scheduled to complete the fourth phase of the treatment program in 2012. Templeton suffers from major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, voyeurism, and exhibitionism. He has met all expectations with regard to his compliance and performance during his course of treatment. Templeton's risk of recidivism is relatively low. In order to further his recovery and ensure he is complying with his probation, Templeton has voluntarily chosen to continue to wear his monitoring ankle bracelet.

On February 12, 2010, the grievance commission filed its findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation. The commission concluded the board had proved Templeton's conduct violated Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct 32:8.4(a), (b), and (d). After weighing the aggravating and mitigating factors in the case, the commission recommended this court suspend Templeton's license to practice law for two years without any possibility of reinstatement. The commission...

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