Spring 2019 Gavel Spring Gavel 2019 - Page 38

LAWYER DISCIPLINE NOTICE OF ORDER REPRIMANDING ATTORNEY Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of North Dakota Petitioner v. Cindy L. Turcotte, Respondent No. 20190042 In findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendations, and after considering the aggravating factors under the N.D. Stds. Imposing Lawyer Sanctions, a hearing panel of the Disciplinary Board recommended Cindy L. Turcotte be reprimanded by the Supreme Court and pay the costs and expense of the disciplinary proceeding. The Supreme Court accepted the recommendation. Turcotte maintained a civil and criminal law practice in Williston. On November 28, 2017, Turcotte notified the Clerk of the Supreme Court, the Northwest District Judges, and other court staff by email that she was taking a medical leave of absence from the practice of law from November 20, 2017, until February 28, 2018. Turcotte did not provide information or background to those she contacted to assist with the handling of her cases. She made little to no effort within her clients’ cases to ensure they were adequately represented during her absence. Turcotte represented a client in Williams County and, in December 2017, instructed her client to obtain discovery from the Williams County State’s Attorney for the client’s case and for multiple other clients’ cases. Turcotte made no effort to ensure her other clients’ confidential information relating to her representation was preserved. The hearing panel found Turcotte’s actions with regard to taking a leave of absence and with regard to obtaining discovery demonstrated a lack of competence. Turcotte failed to pay her 2018 license fee until January 17, 2018. During January 1, 2018, through January 17, 2018, Turcotte represented clients in legal matters, which the hearing panel found was the unauthorized practice of law. The hearing panel concluded Turcotte violated N.D.R. Prof. Conduct 1.1, Competence; 1.3 and 5.5, Unauthorized Practice of Law. The Supreme Court reprimanded Turcotte and ordered her to pay the costs and expenses of the disciplinary proceeding in the amount of $250. Discipline Summaries • A lawyer was admonished for violations of Rules 1.3 and 1.16(e) of the North Dakota Rules of Professional Conduct. Clear and convincing evidence was present that the lawyer lacked diligence in representing the client in failing to file responsive documents within the timeframe that would have prevented a default judgment from being imposed. Clear and convincing evidence was also present that the lawyer did not take proper steps to withdraw from the representation or inform the clients that the lawyer was no longer continuing to work on the case. Clear and convincing evidence was present that no accountings were returned to the clients. • A lawyer was admonished for violations of Rule 1.1 and 1.4(b) of the North Dakota Rules of Professional Conduct. Clear and convincing evidence was present that the lawyer lacked competence by demonstrating a lack of understanding relevant legal principles and doctrines related to the representation. Clear and convincing evidence also was present showing that the lawyer did not communicate sufficiently with the client so as to allow the client to understand the issues within the litigation and make informed decisions. Missing GUESS WHO? Guess Who will return, but we NEED your photos. If you have any Guess Who photos, please submit them to tony@sband.org. Last issue’s answers: 1st row: Paul Johnsin, Tim Ottmar, Tim Price, Steve Richards, and Dan Hovland 2nd row: Terry Wiles, Terry Lorrenz, Mark Beauchene, and Mike Williams Congratulations to winner, Scott Richard Sandness. 38 THE GAVEL