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State ex rel. Counsel for Discipline of Neb. Supreme Court v. Thebarge

Supreme Court of Nebraska

October 31, 2014

STATE OF NEBRASKA EX REL. COUNSEL FOR DISCIPLINE OF THE NEBRASKA SUPREME COURT, RELATOR,
v.
LENNY W. THEBARGE, JR., RESPONDENT

Page 915

Original actions.

Kent L. Frobish and John W. Steele, Assistant Counsels for Discipline, for relator.

No appearance for respondent.

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

OPINION

Page 916

[289 Neb. 357] Per Curiam.

NATURE OF CASE

Lenny W. Thebarge, Jr. (Respondent), a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association, has been formally charged with violations of the Nebraska Rules of Professional Conduct and his oath of office as an attorney. Formal charges involved misappropriation of client funds, failure to communicate with clients, and obstruction of justice. We granted judgment on the pleadings, and we now determine the appropriate discipline for Respondent.

BACKGROUND

In 2011, Respondent was admitted to practice law in the State of Nebraska. At all times relevant to these proceedings Respondent was engaged in the private practice of law in Omaha, Nebraska.

Charges against Respondent are set forth below in detail. Respondent has not answered any of the formal charges against him, and therefore, judgment on the pleadings was entered.

Count I

In April 2012, Respondent was engaged in legal services with his client Jonathan Nelson. On August 28, 2012, Respondent received a check for $10,939.50 on behalf of Nelson. Respondent placed the check in his client trust fund account. Nelson says he never gave Respondent permission to apply this check to his outstanding bill, although Respondent claims he was authorized by Nelson to do so. However, on August 29, Respondent withdrew $1,700 from his client trust fund, leaving an account balance of only $9,989.50 and leaving Respondent out of trust by $950 in regard to Nelson's funds.

[289 Neb. 358] In November 2012, Nelson filed a grievance with the Counsel for Discipline, claiming that Nelson had never been provided an accounting on the check received by Respondent. During the investigation, Respondent claimed he had a written fee agreement with Nelson, but failed to provide copies of the written fee agreement to the Counsel for Discipline.

Therefore, Respondent was charged with violating and was determined to have violated Neb. Ct. R. of Prof. Cond. § § 3-501.15 (safekeeping property), 3-501.16 (declining or terminating representation), 3-508.1 (bar ...


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