Oct. 3 — The ethics rule against making false factual statements to third persons covers lies to opposing counsel, the Iowa Supreme Court held Sept. 16 ( Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Bd. v. Barnhill , 2016 BL 305056, Iowa, No. 16-0731, 9/16/16 ).
Rule 32:4.1(a) of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct forbids false statements to third persons about material facts when representing a client. Opposing counsel is a third person within the meaning of that rule, even though there’s a separate professional conduct rule on fairness to opposing counsel, Justice Daryl L. Hecht said.
The opinion highlights the broad duty of honesty lawyers have towards anyone they deal with on behalf of on a client. Opposing counsel isn’t excluded from the universe of third persons to whom lawyers owe the obligation of truthfulness, according to the court.
The court found that Kathryn S. Barnhill violated Rule 32:4.1(a) of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct in a fee dispute with a former client by falsely telling the ex-client’s counsel over and over that she had sent him a check for the balance of a fee arbitration award.
The court also found that Barnhill violated her duty not to make false factual statements to a court ( Rule 32:3.3(a)(1)) and the prohibition against filing meritless claims ( Rule 32:3.1) in the former client’s lawsuit seeking to collect the unpaid money.
Barnhill falsely told the court that she had tendered payment, and she lodged baseless counterclaims for abuse of process against the former client and opposing counsel, Hecht said.
However, the court said it wouldn’t find a violation of the general rule prohibiting dishonesty ( Rule 32:8.4(c)) because other rules Barnhill violated—Rule 3.3(a)(1) and Rule 4.1(a)—are more specific provisions dealing with the same misconduct.
The appropriate sanction for Barnhill’s misconduct and for her additional violations in a separate matter is an indefinite suspension with no possibility of reinstatement for six months, the court concluded.
Assistant Director Tara M. van Brederode and Patrick W. O’Bryan, Des Moines, Iowa, represented the disciplinary board. Barnhill, of Urbandale, Iowa, represented herself.
To contact the reporter on this story: Joan C. Rogers in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: S. Ethan Bowers at email@example.com
Full text at http://src.bna.com/i2S.
Copyright © 2016 American Bar Association and The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)