Legal Ethics

Defense lawyer suspended for talking with prosecutor about ex-client and his new counsel

A Nebraska attorney has been indefinitely suspended from practice because she spoke with a prosecutor about her former client in a rape case, allegedly motivated by hatred for the lawyer who replaced her in representing Kevin H. Beltran and a desire to see Beltran convicted.

Attorney Donna J. Tonderum, 45, admitted the conversation and did not contest the discipline, but disputed some comments that were attributed to her, the World-Herald reports.

The prosecutor, who alerted disciplinary authorities, said Tonderum called him on Sept. 7, 2012 and gave him a witness list, in addition to expressing her dislike of Beltran’s new counsel and claiming that Beltran was guilty, according to the Nebraska Supreme Court’s ruling Friday opinion (PDF) in the legal ethics case.

Tonderum told the newspaper she didn’t say she hated Beltran’s new counsel and didn’t say her former client was guilty.

A special prosecutor was named to prevent a conflict in Beltran’s continuing case.

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