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State ex rel. Counsel for Discipline v. Martin

Supreme Court of Nebraska

September 16, 2016

State of Nebraska ex rel. Counsel for Discipline of the Nebraska Supreme Court, Relator,
v.
Alan D. Martin, Respondent.

         Original action. Judgment of public reprimand.

          Heavican, C.J., Wright, Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Kelch, and Funke, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         INTRODUCTION

         This case is before the court on the conditional admission filed by Alan D. Martin, respondent, on August 3, 2016. The court accepts respondent's conditional admission and enters an order of public reprimand.

         FACTS

         Respondent was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Nebraska on July 23, 2005. At all relevant times, he was engaged in the private practice of law in Omaha, Nebraska.

         On August 3, 2016, the Counsel for Discipline of the Nebraska Supreme Court filed formal charges against respondent. The formal charges consist of one count against respondent. With respect to this count, the formal charges state that in April 2012, respondent was retained by a client to legalize the immigration status of her husband, who was an undocumented individual. The clients agreed to pay $4, 500 in attorney fees plus filing fees. The husband client stated on intake forms for [294 Neb. 806] respondent that he was "'EWI, '" which means "entered without inspection, " and "'undocumented.'"

         On April 15, 2013, respondent filed the following forms with the Department of Homeland Security (the Department) on behalf of the clients: I-130, "Petition for Alien Relative"; I-485, "Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status by Applicant"; and I-765, "Application for Employment Authorization." Respondent also filed form G-28, "Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative." All the forms were signed by respondent.

         According to the formal charges, in order to be eligible for an adjustment of status pursuant to the I-485 application, "an alien must: a. [b]e physically present in the United States; b. [h]ave an approved immigration petition (I-130); [and] c.[m]ust not have entered the United States illegally."

         On May 8, 2013, the Department issued a request for initial evidence of eligibility to file the I-485 application for the husband client. The request was for evidence of lawful admission or parole into the United States, as well as tax returns and medical information. On July 30, respondent submitted additional information to the Department pursuant to the Department's request.

         On August 13, 2013, form I-130, "Petition for Alien Relative, " for the husband client was approved. On August 23, the I-485 adjustment of status application was denied because the evidence submitted was not sufficient to establish his eligibility for the benefit sought. Specifically, the husband client had failed to submit evidence of lawful admission or parole into the United States or eligibility for an adjustment of status. On August 23, respondent notified the clients that the I-130 form was approved and that the scope of his representation was completed.

         According to the formal charges, in a letter from respondent to the Counsel for Discipline dated September 11, 2014, respondent stated that the clients brought the I-485 form to his office and represented that the husband client was qualified [294 Neb. 807] to file the I-485 form, that he did not know of the husband client's ineligibility to apply for a legal immigration status, and that he failed to properly see and review the document that was brought in by the husband client.

         In a letter from respondent to the Counsel for Discipline dated February 17, 2016, respondent stated that he was led to believe that his paralegal was competent in immigration applications and that all respondent needed to do was to review the documents and procedures for his signatures. Respondent stated that his paralegal prepared all of the immigration forms regarding the husband client for respondent's review and signature.

         Respondent further stated in his February 17, 2016, letter that between approximately August 2007 and March 2009, respondent closed his practice due to illness. When he reopened his practice, respondent reported that he was very weak and heavily medicated. After respondent had ...


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