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State ex rel. Counsel for Discipline of Nebraska Supreme Court v. Wolfe

Supreme Court of Nebraska

September 21, 2018

State of Nebraska ex rel. Counsel for Discipline of the Nebraska Supreme Court, relator,
v.
Tobin D. Wolfe, respondent.

          Original action. Judgment of suspension.

          Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Funke, Papik, and Freudenberg, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         INTRODUCTION

         On May 2, 2018, formal charges containing 10 counts were filed by the office of the Counsel for Discipline of the Nebraska Supreme Court, relator, against respondent, Tobin D. Wolfe. Respondent filed an answer to the charges on May 23. A referee was appointed on June 4. The referee conducted a hearing on July 24.

         The referee filed a report on August 14, 2018. With respect to the 10 charges, the referee concluded that through respondent's conduct, he had breached the following provisions of the Nebraska Court Rules of Professional Conduct: Neb. Ct. R. of Prof. Cond. §§ 3-501.1 (competence), 3-501.3 (diligence), 3-501.4 (communication), 3-501.5(f) (timely accounting for fees), 3-501.16(d) (refunding fees on termination of representation), 3-508.1(b) (responding to bar admission and disciplinary matters), and 3-508.4 (misconduct) (rev. 2016). The referee further found that respondent had violated his oath of office as an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of [301 Neb. 118] Nebraska. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 7-104 (Reissue 2012). With respect to the discipline to be imposed, the referee recommended suspension of respondent's license to practice law for a period of 2 years, commencing from the date of temporary suspension, November 6, 2017, followed by a period of supervision of 2 years upon readmission. Respondent agreed to the proposed sanction. Neither relator nor respondent filed exceptions to the referee's report. The parties filed a joint motion for judgment on the pleadings under Neb. Ct. R. § 3-310(L) (rev. 2014) of the disciplinary rules. We grant the motion for judgment on the pleadings and impose discipline as indicated below.

         FACTS

         Respondent was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Nebraska on April 23, 2013. At all times relevant to these proceedings, he has practiced in Lincoln, Nebraska.

         The substance of the referee's findings may be summarized as follows: Respondent has practiced law since 2013, including family law, and on November 6, 2017, his license to practice law in Nebraska was temporarily suspended until further order of this court. The violations arise from respondent's conduct with respect to 10 clients who filed grievances with the Counsel for Discipline between April 3 and December 6, 2017. The pertinent facts are not in dispute in this case and were admitted in respondent's answer or acknowledged in his testimony.

         The referee held a hearing at which respondent testified and evidence was adduced. In a report filed August 14, 2018, the referee found that through respondent's conduct, he had breached provisions of the Nebraska Court Rules of Professional Conduct as follows:

• With respect to count I, respondent engaged in misconduct under § 3-508.4 by failing to provide a full accounting on request under § 3-501.5(f), and failing to properly and timely respond to the Counsel for Discipline under § 3-508.1(b).
[301 Neb. 119] • With respect to count II, respondent engaged in misconduct under § 3-508.4 by failing to provide a full accounting under § 3-501.5(f), failing to timely refund unearned fees under § 3-501.16, failing to properly communicate with his client as required by § 3-501.4, and failing to properly and timely respond to the Counsel for Discipline in violation of § 3-508.1(b).
• With respect to count III, respondent engaged in misconduct under § 3-508.4 by failing to properly communicate with his client in violation of § 3-501.4, and failing to timely respond to the Counsel for Discipline in violation of § 3-508.1(b).
• With respect to count IV, respondent engaged in misconduct under § 3-508.4 by failing to properly communicate with his client as required by § 3-501.4, failing to handle a matter with the requisite level of competence and diligence required by §§ 3-501.1 and 3-501.3, and failing to ...

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