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Drollinger v. Mallon

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 09-01-2011
Case #: S058839
De Muniz, C.J. for the Court
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/S058839.pdf

Criminal Law: Exoneration is a prerequisite for bringing a legal malpractice claim against a defendant’s trial lawyer, but not for bringing a legal malpractice claim against post-conviction counsel.

Drollinger, a convicted felon, brought a legal malpractice action against lawyers who began to represent him in his efforts to obtain post-conviction relief, but who withdrew shortly before Drollinger’s case was scheduled to be heard. The trial court granted the lawyers’ motion to dismiss based on Stevens v. Bispham, in which the malpractice action was barred because the defendant had not been exonerated of the underlying offenses. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, finding that the important considerations present in the Stevens case were not present here because this case involved post-conviction relief rather than a criminal trial. Thus, the trial court erred in granting the lawyers’ motion to dismiss. Reversed and remanded.