State of Nebraska ex rel. Counsel for Discipline of the Nebraska Supreme Court, relator.
Alison H. Motta, respondent.
action. Judgment of public reprimand.
Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Kelch, and
case is before the court on the conditional admission filed
by Alison H. Motta, respondent, on November 16, 2017. The
court accepts respondent's conditional admission to the
charge contained in the amended formal charges and enters an
order of public reprimand.
19, 2013, respondent was admitted to the practice of law in
the State of Nebraska pro hac vice by order of the county
court for Douglas County, Nebraska. Her admission was for
appearing in the case of "State v. Anthony
Garcia'' (Garcia case), docketed in Douglas County
Court as case No. CR13-17383 and in the district court for
Douglas County as case No. CR13-2322. Anthony Garcia had been
charged with committing four homicides. Respondent is also
admitted to the practice of law in the State of Illinois.
With respect to the Garcia case, at all relevant times, she
was engaged in the practice of law in Omaha, Nebraska.
Neb. 755] With respect to discipline, pursuant to Neb. Ct. R.
§ 3-302. respondent is under the jurisdiction of the
"District Two Committee on Inquiry." The matters
alleged in the amended formal charges were reviewed by said
committee pursuant to Neb. Ct. R. § 3-309(H) (rev.
2011). The committee determined that there were reasonable
grounds for discipline of respondent and that a public
interest would be served by the filing of formal charges.
November 16, 2017, the Counsel for Discipline of the Nebraska
Supreme Court filed amended formal charges against
respondent. The amended formal charges consist of one count
against respondent arising from her extrajudicial statements
to the media regarding the Garcia case.
amended formal charges state that during the Garcia case, on
June 26, 2015, the trial court issued a protective order
under seal regarding an unrelated 2007 homicide known as the
Blanchard homicide. The protective order stated,
'"[N]o information or knowledge obtained [by the
State or Garcia] from the review [of the Blanchard homicide
evidence] may be used, disclosed, or referenced during
preparation for trial, during trial, or for any other matter
in this [Garcia] prosecution.'"
before trial of the Garcia case was scheduled to commence on
April 4, 2016, a suspect was arrested in the Blanchard
homicide. After the arrest of the suspect in the Blanchard
homicide and prior to the Garcia trial, respondent made
numerous statements to news media related to the suspect in
the Blanchard homicide indicating that it was the belief of
Garcia's defense team that such suspect was involved in
two of the homicides for which Garcia stood charged. Omaha
television news station WOWT quoted respondent as saying,
'"By cross-comparing the DNA evidence that they
discovered at the . . . Blanchard scene, DNA [of the suspect
in the Blanchard homicide] was at both scenes. I don't
see how they're going to explain the cross-over in the
DNA and the existence of both people at both crime
scenes.'" Omaha television news [298 Neb. 756]
station KMTV quoted respondent as saying, '"This
evidence conclusively exonerates . . . Garcia and shows that
it cannot be a coincidence the two manners of killing being
signature like and the crossover between the two scenes of
the same two suspects.'" Respondent also made
statements to the Omaha World-Herald newspaper that the
defense team hoped that '"we'll get a call from
the County Attorney's office that they're dismissing
respondent's statements to the media, on March 30, 2016,
the State moved for sanctions against her. On March 31,
respondent and her out-of-state cocounsel jointly renewed
their motion for admission pro hac vice due to the withdrawal
of prior local Nebraska counsel. Following an April 4
hearing, the trial court issued an order nunc pro tune
finding that respondent violated the protective order
regarding the Blanchard homicide with her public
dissemination of the DNA results in the Blanchard homicide.
The trial court further found that respondent's
statements to news media violated Neb. Ct. R. of Prof. Cond.
§ 3-503.6. The trial court disqualified respondent from
continued admission to practice and participate in the Garcia
case pro hac vice.
amended formal charges allege that by her actions, respondent
violated her oath of office as an attorney licensed to
practice law pro hac vice in the State of Nebraska, as
provided by Neb. Rev. Stat. § 7-104 (Reissue 2012), as
well as § 3-503.6 (trial publicity) and Neb. Ct. R. of
Prof. Cond. § 3-508.4(a) and (d) (misconduct).
November 16, 2017, respondent filed a conditional admission
pursuant to Neb. Ct. R. § 3-313(B) of the disciplinary
rules, in which she conditionally admitted that she violated
the oath of office of her pro hac vice admission as an
attorney and professional conduct rules §§ 3-503.6
and 3-508.4(a) and (d). In the conditional admission,
respondent states she did not knowingly or intentionally
violate these rules of professional conduct, but acknowledges
and admits that her conduct violated the identified rules of
professional conduct. [298 Neb. 757] Respondent ...