STATE EX REL. COUNSEL FOR DIS. v. LISONBEE 379
Original action. Judgment of suspension.
heavicaN, c.J., wright, coNNolly, stephaN, mccormack, miller-lermaN, and cassel, JJ.
Respondent, James G. Lisonbee, was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Nebraska on June 4, 2010. At all relevant times, he was engaged in the private practice of law in Lincoln, Nebraska. Respondent has been on temporary suspension since April 11, 2012. On August 23, the Counsel for Discipline of the Nebraska Supreme Court filed formal charges consisting of three counts against respondent. In the three counts, it was alleged that by his conduct, respondent had violated his oath of office as an attorney, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 7-104 (Reissue 2012); Neb. Ct. R. §§ 3-303(B) and 3-309(E) (rev. 2011) of the disciplinary rules; and Neb. Ct. R. of Prof. Cond. §§ 3-501.1 (competence), 3-501.3 (diligence), 3-501.4 (communications), 3-501.16(a) and (d) (declining or terminating representation), 3-508.1(b) (bar admission and disciplinary matters), and 3-508.4(a) and (d) (misconduct).
On January 2, 2013, respondent filed a conditional admission pursuant to Neb. Ct. R. § 3-313 of the disciplinary rules, in which he knowingly chose not to challenge or contest the truth of the matters set forth in the formal charges and waived all proceedings against him in connection therewith in exchange for a judgment of suspension for 3 years and, following reinstatement, 2 years of probation, including monitoring. If accepted, the monitoring shall be by an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Nebraska and who shall be approved of by the Counsel for Discipline. The monitoring plan shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
During the first 6 months of probation, respondent will meet with and provide the monitor a weekly list of cases for which respondent is currently responsible, which list shall include the date the attorney-client relationship began, the general type of case, the date of last contact with the client, the last type and date of work completed on file (pleading, correspondence, document preparation, discovery, or court hearing), the next type of work and date that work should be completed on the case, any applicable statutes of limitations and their dates, and the financial terms of the relationship (hourly, contingency, et cetera). After the first 6 months through the end of the probation, respondent shall meet with the monitor on a monthly basis and provide the monitor with a list containing the same information set forth above; respondent shall reconcile his trust account within 10 days of receipt of the monthly bank statement and provide the monitor with a copy within 5 days; and respondent shall submit a quarterly compliance report with the Counsel for Discipline, demonstrating that respondent is adhering to the foregoing terms of probation. The quarterly report shall include a certification by the monitor that the monitor has reviewed the report and that respondent continues to abide by the terms of probation. Finally, respondent shall pay all the costs in this case, including the fees and expenses of the monitor, if any.
The proposed conditional admission included a declaration by the Counsel for Discipline, stating that respondent's request for a 3-year suspension and, following reinstatement, 2 years of probation "appears to be appropriate under the facts of this case and will adequately protect the public."
Upon due consideration, we approve the conditional admission, and we order a 3-year suspension effective immediately and, following reinstatement, 2 years of probation and monitoring.
With respect to count I, the formal charges state that in late June 2010, an individual referred to as "the first client" filed suit, pro se, in the district court for Lancaster County seeking to dissolve his marriage. Thereafter, he contacted the Volunteer Lawyers Project at the Nebraska State Bar Association seeking legal counsel for his divorce. The Volunteer Lawyers Project referred him to respondent. He and respondent met, and respondent agreed to represent him. According to the first client, at first, the communication between him and respondent was good. Initially, the first client's wife was difficult to serve with summons; however, she was eventually served in person by the sheriff on July 27, 2010.
As time went on, it became more difficult for the first client to contact respondent. Nothing appears to have happened in the case from the time the first client's wife was served until November 15, 2010, when the district court judge issued a show cause order to respondent advising that the case would be dismissed for lack of prosecution. In response, on December 6, respondent filed a motion for default judgment that failed to comply with the rules of the district court for the Third Judicial District. A week later, on December 14, respond ...