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In re Application of Collins

Supreme Court of Nebraska

July 11, 2014

IN RE APPLICATION OF LORETTA D. COLLINS FOR ADMISSION TO THE NEBRASKA STATE BAR

Page 132

Original action.

APPLICATION GRANTED.

Robert B. Creager, of Anderson, Creager & Wittstruck, P.C., L.L.O., for applicant.

Loretta D. Collins, Pro se.

Jon Bruning, Attorney General, Stephanie Caldwell, and Christopher J. Preston, Senior Certified Law Student, for Nebraska State Bar Association.

HEAVICAN, C.J., WRIGHT, CONNOLLY, STEPHAN, MCCORMACK, MILLER-LERMAN, and CASSEL, JJ.

OPINION

Page 133

[288 Neb. 520] Per Curiam.

Our rules permit a lawyer to be admitted to practice in Nebraska without taking the bar examination if the lawyer has attained educational qualifications at least equal to those required for applicants for admission by examination, is licensed and in good standing in the practice of law in another state, and has been actively and substantially engaged in the practice of law in another jurisdiction for 5 of the 7 years preceding the application.[1] Persons seeking admission in this way are classified as " Class 1-B applicants." [2]

[288 Neb. 521] Loretta Collins is a lawyer admitted to practice and in good standing in Alabama and Colorado. She moved for admission in Nebraska as a Class 1-B applicant, but the Nebraska State Bar Commission (Commission) rejected her application, finding she lacked the requisite character and fitness. Collins appeals from the Commission's decision.

I. FACTS

Collins was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy after approximately 8 years of active duty. She has been licensed to practice law in Alabama since September 2000 and in Colorado since August 2008. She is in good standing in both states. She applied for admission to the Nebraska bar in 2013, and after reviewing her application and supporting documents, the Commission denied admission due to a lack of acceptable character and fitness. Collins appealed that decision, and an evidentiary hearing was held before the Commission. The Commission then affirmed its decision, and Collins filed this timely appeal.

1. Disciplinary Record

Collins has no disciplinary record in Colorado. However, between September 29, 2000, and March 22, 2013, five disciplinary complaints were filed against her in Alabama.

(a) Dismissed Complaints

Three of the complaints were investigated by the Alabama Disciplinary Commission (Alabama Commission) and " screened out" with no action taken. These complaints were filed on February 7, 2011; September 21, 2009; and January 16, 2004.

The February 2011 complaint arose when the Alabama Commission received notice from Collins' bank that a check had

Page 134

been written against her trust account and that the account lacked sufficient funds to cover the check. When contacted by the Alabama Commission, Collins discovered there had been an accounting error and remedied the account. The Alabama Commission took no further action on the complaint. Collins did not disclose this complaint and investigation on her application to be admitted to the Nebraska bar. When [288 Neb. 522] questioned by the Commission, she stated she had forgotten about the complaint.

The September 2009 complaint was filed by a former client and related to the estate of the client's mother. It was investigated and then " screened out" by the Alabama Commission without further action. Collins did not disclose this complaint and investigation on her application to be admitted to the Nebraska bar. When questioned by the Commission, she stated she had forgotten about the complaint.

The January 2004 complaint involved a client's dissatisfaction with services provided by Collins. It was investigated by the Alabama Commission, and no further action was taken. Collins disclosed this complaint and investigation on her application to be admitted to the Nebraska bar.

(b) Complaints Resulting in Discipline

(i) Public Reprimand

The remaining two Alabama complaints resulted in disciplinary action against Collins. She disclosed both actions on her application to be admitted to the Nebraska bar.

The first resulted in a public reprimand and was based on facts that occurred in 2003-04. Sometime around July 2003, Collins agreed to represent Maria Oravec, an elderly woman, in an estate matter. Collins agreed to accept a $6,000 retainer and to bill at $150 per hour thereafter. Based on Collins' hourly bills, Oravec paid Collins the $6,000 plus an additional $3,750. In February 2004, Oravec terminated Collins' services. Almost immediately thereafter, Collins liquidated one of Oravec's ...


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