Saturday, April 13, 2013

In re Neville case brief

In re Neville case brief summary
147 Ariz. 106, 708 P.2d 1297 (1985)

Respondent attorney filed objections to the report of the Disciplinary Board (Arizona), which voted to accept the bar committee's recommendations and imposed a 60-day suspension.

OVERVIEW: The client sold the attorney real estate in exchange for the attorney executing a promissory note. The conditions under which repayment was to be made were not favorable to the client. The client filed a complaint with the state bar. The committee ruled that the attorney violated Ariz. Code of Prof'l Responsibility DR 5-104 that regulated a lawyer's business relationships with his client. The attorney appealed to the disciplinary board, which accepted the committee's decision, except that it reduced the suspension from 90 to 60 days.

On appeal, the court held that the attorney's most serious violation was dealing adversely with his client without full disclosure and without obtaining a knowing consent.

The court reasoned that the client was aware that the attorney did not purport to act for him in the transaction at issue; however, under Ariz. Code of Prof'l Responsibility DR 5-104(A), the attorney should have fully disclosed the risks and disadvantages to the client that flowed from the transaction. The court noted that there was no evidence of fraudulent intent. The court believed that the suspension was too harsh a sanction and instead censured the attorney.

OUTCOME: The court approved the Disciplinary Board's conclusions that the attorney dealt adversely with his client in a business transaction without making full disclosure of his interest and without obtaining the client's full consent. However, the court refused to impose any disciplinary sanctions and chose instead to censor him.
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