Matter of Discipline of Peirce, 45553.

Citation128 P.3d 443
Case DateFebruary 09, 2006
CourtSupreme Court of Nevada

Page 443

128 P.3d 443
In the Matter of DISCIPLINE OF Matthew J. PEIRCE, Esq.
No. 45553.
Supreme Court of Nevada.
February 9, 2006.

Rob W. Bare, Bar Counsel, Las Vegas, for State Bar of Nevada.

Warhola & Brooks, LLP, and Michael J. Warhola, Las Vegas, for attorney Matthew J. Pierce.

Before the Court En Banc.



In this opinion, we conclude that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is "another jurisdiction" under SCR 114, so that reciprocal discipline in Nevada for attorney misconduct penalized by the USPTO is appropriate. We further conclude that none of SCR 114(4)'s exceptions applies, and so identical discipline shall be imposed.


Matthew Peirce was admitted to the Nevada bar in 1997. He is also admitted to practice before the USPTO. In July 2004, the USPTO's Director of Enrollment and Discipline1 filed a twenty-four count complaint against Peirce. Three of the counts related to Peirce's alleged association with several invention promotion companies, and the other twenty-one counts were based on Peirce's alleged negligent handling of his

Page 444

clients' patent applications. Peirce answered and admitted the twenty-one negligence charges. He denied the three other counts, maintaining that his association with the invention promotion companies did not result in any misconduct.

Peirce and the Director eventually entered into a stipulated set of facts as to ten of the counts, and Peirce received a two-year suspension from practice before the USPTO, after which he may apply for reinstatement. The remaining counts were dismissed. Briefly, the stipulated facts state that Peirce signed a patentability opinion for a client that did not discuss a possible bar to any patent; failed to communicate with a client before signing a patentability opinion and failed to disclose to the client the fee arrangement with an invention promotion company; and failed to file required documents with the USPTO on behalf of eight clients, resulting in their patent applications "going abandoned." It is not clear whether the clients will be able to revive the applications to protect their inventions.

Peirce, through counsel, notified the State Bar of Nevada about the discipline, as required by SCR 114(1). The state bar obtained copies of the pertinent documents and filed this petition for reciprocal discipline. Peirce answered the petition, and the state bar was granted leave to file a reply.


USPTO as a "jurisdiction"

SCR 114 provides that upon learning that a Nevada attorney has been disciplined in "another jurisdiction," bar counsel is required to obtain a certified copy of the disciplinary order and file a petition for reciprocal discipline with this court. The rule does not define "another jurisdiction." Peirce argues that "another jurisdiction" includes other state bars, not administrative tribunals like the USPTO. The state bar, relying on cases from other states, contends that the USPTO is appropriately included within SCR 114's scope.

We are unaware of any case in which discipline by the USPTO was not accorded the same status as discipline by another state.2 Additionally, as the state bar points out, the USPTO has an admission process that includes a requirement that applicants demonstrate good moral character,3 and it has a professional responsibility code and a discipline process substantially similar to Nevada's.4 In particular, the USPTO's disciplinary procedure provides for notice to the attorney, some discovery, the opportunity to present evidence, and a clear and convincing standard of proof.5 Finally, the attorney has a right of review in the federal courts.6

We therefore conclude that "another jurisdiction" includes the USPTO. The professional conduct rules are similar, so that what constitutes misconduct before the USPTO is misconduct in Nevada. For example, here, the Nevada equivalents for the rules Peirce violated are SCR 151 (competence), SCR 153 (diligence), SCR 154 (communication) and SCR 188 (professional independence of a lawyer).

Appropriate discipline

SCR 114(4) provides that this court "shall impose the identical discipline unless the attorney demonstrates, or this court finds, that on the face of...

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6 cases
  • State v. W. Va. Office of Disciplinary Counsel
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 5, 2013
    ...imposed reciprocal state discipline from actions by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. See, e.g., In re Peirce, 122 Nev. 77, 128 P.3d 443, 444 (2006); People v. Bode, 119 P.3d 1098, 1100 (Colo.O.P.D.J.2005). 19. Pursuant to Rule 3.15 of the West Virginia Rules of Lawyer Discipli......
  • Kelly v. Cuomo (In re Cuomo), BK-S-10-14813-BAM
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Ninth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Nevada
    • June 20, 2013
    ...fully), ordered payment of the costs of the disciplinary proceeding,Page 27and ordered public reprimands. See In re Discipline of Peirce, 128 P.3d 443, 445, 122 Nev. 77, 81 (2006); In re Ohpark, 2010 WL 1930187 at *2; In re Dean, 401 B.R. at 919; Boyle, 942 P.2d at 1204; Wroblewski, 512 N.E......
  • Office of Lawyer Regulation v. Schwedler (In re Schwedler), 2016AP1770-D
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • June 1, 2017
    ..."another jurisdiction" for purposes of our reciprocal discipline rule, SCR 22.22(1). See In Re Discipline of Peirce , 122 Nev. 77, 78, 128 P.3d 443, 443 (2006), reinstatement granted sub nom. In re Reinstatement of Peirce , No. 62091, 2014 WL 4804214 (Nev. Sept. 24, 2014) ; People v. Hartma......
  • In re Stewart, A16-1309
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • July 26, 2017
    ...the USPTO. Other states have also imposed reciprocal discipline based on the USPTO's disciplinary actions. See In re Peirce, 122 Nev. 77, 128 P.3d 443, 444 (2006) ; In re Perkowski, 94 A.D.3d 122, 940 N.Y.S.2d 657, 658-59 (2012).4 Compare 37 C.F.R. §§ 11.103 (diligence), 11.116(d) (failure ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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