State of Nebraska ex rel. Counsel for Discipline of the Nebraska Supreme Court, relator,
Rodney A. Halstead, respondent.
Disciplinary Proceedings: Appeal and Error.
Because attorney discipline cases are original proceedings
before the Nebraska Supreme Court, the court reviews a
referee's recommendations de novo on the record, reaching
a conclusion independent of the referee's findings.
Disciplinary Proceedings. To determine
whether and to what extent discipline should be imposed in a
lawyer discipline proceeding, the Nebraska Supreme Court
considers the following factors: (1) the nature of the
offense, (2) the need for deterring others, (3) the
maintenance of the reputation of the bar as a whole, (4) the
protection of the public, (5) the attitude of the offender
generally, and (6) the offender's present or future
fitness to continue in the practice of law.
The propriety of a sanction must be considered with reference
to the sanctions imposed in prior similar cases.
Cumulative acts of attorney misconduct are distinguishable
from isolated incidents, therefore justifying more serious
action. Judgment of suspension.
L. Agena, Assistant Counsel for Discipline, for relator.
J. Anderson, PC, L.L.O., for respondent.
Heavican, C.J., Wright, Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Kelch,
and Funke, JJ.
Neb. 150]PER CURIAM.
an attorney discipline case in which the only question before
this court is the appropriate sanction. Rodney A. Halstead
admitted to authoring and filing annual guardianship reports
containing false statements over a period of 6 years. The
referee recommended that Halstead be suspended from the
practice of law for 1 year with other conditions set forth in
more detail below. Because this is a serious offense which
was repeated year after year, we adopt the referee's
recommendation and enter a judgment of suspension.
was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Nebraska
on September 25, 1991. At all relevant times, he was engaged
in the practice of law in Omaha, Nebraska.
for Attorney Discipline
August 2009, Halstead was appointed permanent guardian of an
incapacitated adult (the ward). He was required to file
annual reports on the condition of the ward and, among other
items, list the ward's current address and indicate how
many times and on what dates he saw the ward in the past
year.Halstead filed these mandatory reports
with the county court for 6 consecutive years, 2010 through
each report contained information which Halstead knew to be
false. In annual reports filed in 2010 and 2011, Halstead
handwrote virtually identical responses: "I have seen
[the ward] about once a month [and] check via phone more
often." Then, in 2012, his typical response changed and
he handwrote, "I have been kept updated mostly by
telephone." Halstead handwrote this same response in his
2013 and 2014 report. Finally, in his 2015 report, Halstead
replied in shorthand and handwrote, "updated by
telephone." In fact, Halstead had not visited the ward
or spoken to anyone at the ward's [298 Neb. 151] assisted
living facility since 2009. If he had, he would have learned
that the ward had moved out of the assisted living facility
in 2011. ...