State of Nebraska ex rel. Counsel for Discipline of the Nebraska Supreme Court, relator.
William E. Gast, respondent.
Disciplinary Proceedings. A proceeding to
discipline an attorney is a trial de novo on the record.
__ . The Nebraska Supreme Court evaluates each
attorney discipline case in light of its particular facts and
__ .To determine whether and to what extent discipline should
be imposed in an attorney 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.
__ . For purposes of determining the proper discipline of an
attorney, the Nebraska Supreme Court considers the
attorney's acts both underlying the events of the case
and throughout the proceeding, as well as all aggravating or
__. The propriety of a sanction must be considered
with reference to the sanctions imposed in prior similar
Judgments: Records: Judicial Notice. A court
has the right to examine its own records and take judicial
notice of its own proceedings and judgments in a former
Disciplinary Proceedings. Responding to
disciplinary complaints in an untimely manner and repeatedly
ignoring requests for information from the Counsel for
Discipline indicate a disrespect for the Nebraska Supreme
Court's disciplinary jurisdiction and a lack of concern
for the protection of the public, the profession, and the
administration of justice.
Neb. 204] 8. __ . An attorney's failure
to respond to inquiries and requests for information from the
Counsel for Discipline is an important matter and is a threat
to the credibility of attorney disciplinary proceedings. The
failure to respond to formal charges in the Nebraska Supreme
Court is of even greater moment.
action. Judgment of suspension.
L. Frobish, Assistant Counsel for Discipline, for relator.
appearance for respondent.
Heavican, C.J., Wright, Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Kelch,
and Funke, JJ.
original proceeding arises from formal charges filed by the
Counsel for Discipline (Relator) against attorney William E.
Gast. Relator alleges violations of the Nebraska Rules of
Professional Conduct and Gast's oath of office as an
attorney arising from (1) the unauthorized practice of law
and (2) frivolous pleadings. We granted Relator's motion
for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Neb. Ct. R. §
3-310(1) (rev. 2014), and the facts alleged in the formal
charges are deemed admitted. Thus, the only issue we must
determine is the appropriate discipline to be imposed. Given
the facts and circumstances of this case, we adopt
Relator's recommended sanction of an indefinite period of
suspension of at least 1 year, with reinstatement conditioned
on Gast's demonstrating his fitness to practice law and
addressing the circumstances of the instant violations. Such
sanction shall run consecutively to the suspension previously
imposed by this court.
was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Nebraska
on January 22, 1973. At all times relevant to these [298 Neb.
205] proceedings, Gast was engaged in the practice of law in
Nebraska. This disciplinary proceeding results from formal
charges filed by Relator on March 24, 2017. See Neb. Ct. R.
§ 3-309(H) (rev. 2011).
undisputed formal charges allege that Gast (1) engaged in the
unauthorized practice of law in violation of (a) Neb. Ct. R.
of Prof. Cond. §§ 3-501.4 (failure to communicate
with his client about her case and his suspension), (b)
3-501.16 (failure to withdraw after suspension), (c) 3-505.5
(rev. 2012) (practicing law while suspended), and (d)
3-508.4(d) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to administration
of justice) and (2) filed frivolous pleadings in violation of
(a) Neb. Ct. R. of Prof. Cond. §§ 3-503.1
(meritorious claims and contentions) and (b) 3-508.4(d)
(engaging in conduct prejudicial to administration of
justice). The formal charges further allege that Gast's
acts and omissions violated his oath of office as an attorney
licensed to practice law in Nebraska. See Neb. Rev. Stat.
§ 7-104 (Reissue 2012).
Practice of Law
30, 2015, Gast's license to practice law in Nebraska was
suspended because Gast failed to report his mandatory
continuing legal education (MCLE) requirements and failed to
pay his mandatory assessment to the Attorney Services
had previously filed suit on behalf of Connie Surber in the
district court for Douglas County in case No. CI14-7634.
Although Gast had actual knowledge that his license was
administratively suspended on June 30, 2015, he continued to
represent Surber in that case and did not inform her that his
license had been suspended. Gast did not withdraw from