In re Phinney

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Professional Responsibility
  • Date Filed: 10-03-2013
  • Case #: S060529
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Per Curiam; En Banc
  • Full Text Opinion

Disbarment is an appropriate sanction when a lawyer engages in serious criminal conduct and when a lawyer engages in any other intentional conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation that seriously adversely reflects on the lawyer's fitness to practice.

The accused appealed his sanction of disbarment for violation of RPC 8.4(a)(2) and 8.4(a)(3). In 2010 the Bar filed a complaint against the accused for taking funds from the Yale Alumni Association of Oregon and using those funds for personal expenses. The trial panel of the Disciplinary Board found that the Bar had proved both violations and a sanction of disbarment was imposed. The accused appealed and argued that disbarment is not appropriate because he intended to repay the money he took. The Supreme Court agreed that the Bar proved both violations by clear and convincing evidence. The Court held that disbarment is appropriate when a lawyer engages in serious criminal conduct, which includes theft. After considering all aggravating and mitigating factors, the Court agreed that disbarment was an appropriate sanction because the accused committed substantial theft of funds from an organization in which he owned a fiduciary duty of honesty, confidence, and trust. Affirmed

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