At the bottom of its stationery, the Nevada Supreme Court has a quote that partially states: “The has the responsibility to provide impartial, efficient, and accessible dispute resolution in legal matters,” and we are now wondering who they are trying to impress… or fool.
Last week, way long expected confirmation of the suspension of Attorney Scott Holper was more than a laugh; it was an insult to the people of Nevada.
After over nine months of waiting and ten weeks of Las Vegas Tribune’s writing on that matter, the Supreme Court finally confirmed the suspension of Holper with a slap to the face of the honest people of Nevada, making that suspension for only ninety days, despite all the charges Holper agreed to in his plea agreement.
In the plea agreement, Holper admitted to one or more violations of the following Rules of Professional Conduct: 1.1 (competence), 1.4 (communication), and 3.1 (meritorious claims and contentions) by (a) filing a complaint on behalf of a client alleging a cause of action knowing that the statute of limitations had expired and the defendant was not liable, and (b) not communicating with the client regarding the status of her case; 1.3 (diligence) by failing to diligently pursue a case; 1.6 (confidentiality of information) by allowing privileged information to be shown to a client’s family member without the client’s permission; 1.8 (conflict of interest) by entering into a business transaction inappropriately with a client; 1.15 (safekeeping property) by failing to maintain client funds in his trust account and failing to account for settlement funds; 3.3 (candor toward the tribunal) by not being forthright with a state court about his client’s pending federal charges and his reasons for seeking to change that client’s plea in an adjudicated misdemeanor matter; 5.3 (responsibilities regarding no lawyer assistants) by failing to appropriately supervise a no lawyer assistant; 8.1(b) (disciplinary matters) by failing to give correct or adequate information to the State Bar in responding to the disciplinary inquiries; and 8.4 (misconduct) by failing to comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct. Holper agreed to (1) a 6-month suspension, to be conditionally stayed with the exception of 90 days actual suspension; (2) a 1-year probation period, during which he must have no new grievance resulting in the imposition of actual discipline; (4) complete 20 additional hours of continuing legal education; (5) pay restitution; and (6) pay the actual costs of the disciplinary proceeding plus fees.
“Based on our review of the record and weighing the duties violated, Holper’s mental state, the potential or actual injury caused by his misconduct, and the aggravating and mitigating factors, In re Discipline of Lerner, 124 Nev. 1232, 1246, 197 P.3d 1067, 1077 (2008), we conclude that the guilty plea agreement should be approved. See SCR 113(1). Holper admitted that he acted with knowledge in violating duties owed to his clients, the public, and the profession. His misconduct resulted in actual or potential injury to his clients, the public, and the profession. Holper’s most serious acts of misconduct were failing to safekeep client property, failing to communicate with and diligently and competently represent his clients, and his lack of candor toward the court,” the original order of the Nevada Supreme Court reads word for word, nothing added and nothing taken away, so people cannot blame the Las Vegas Tribune for wrongly reporting the Justices decision in Holper’s case.
“We hereby suspend attorney Scott M. Holper from the practice of law in Nevada for a period of 6 months commencing from the date of this order. The suspension shall be partially stayed following 90 days of actual suspension and Holper shall be on probation for 1 year from the date of this order,” reads page 3 of the Order of Suspension by the Nevada Supreme Court.
Six out of seven justices signed the order with only one dissenting, Justice Michael Douglas who wrote in the order, “I would not approve the conditional guilty plea. Therefore, I dissent.”
Las Vegas Tribune has learned that Justice Michael Douglas considered the punishment for all these violations too little and too soft and he let his opinion be heard by dissenting.
Holper must complete 20 hours of continuing legal education, 10 of which must be related to ethics and 10 of which must be related to law office management or client relations, in addition to the hours required by SCR 210, within one year from the date of this order.
Holper must pay $2,185.57 in restitution ($426.50 to the client in count 4 of the complaint and $1,759.07 to the client in count 5) within 90 days from the date of this order and also should pay the actual costs of the disciplinary hearing plus $2,500 in fees within 30 days from the date of this order or receipt of the State Bar’s bill of costs providing that the State Bar disciplinary hearing, other fees and the State Bar costs come before the ninety days given to pay the clients that are the most noticeable victims in this case.
After several articles on Holper’s case and pushing for the Supreme Court to act on this case during the nine-month period of waiting, we hereby commend Justice Michael Douglas for his civism and position of bravery in showing a great deal of justice for all.