Iowa Proposal Would Keep Suspension Info Secret for Lawyers Who Consent to the Sanction
Posted Jul 25, 2011 7:51 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Corrected: An Iowa proposal would allow lawyers there to keep misconduct leading to suspensions a secret if they consent to the sanction and the facts are undisputed.
Paul Wieck II, the head of the judicial branch's office of professional regulation, is proposing the change, the Des Moines Register reports. Under his proposal, affidavits filed by lawyers outlining the facts of consent suspensions would remain private unless the Iowa Supreme Court requires disclosure.
The move follows an investigation by the Des Moines Register that found the lawyer discipline process can stretch for years, and severe sanctions are rarely imposed.
The newspaper found that Iowa has disbarred only 30 lawyers since 2000, including just one lawyer last year. One lengthy case involved a lawyer convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse based on allegations he choked his wife to the point of unconsciousness in 2006, the story says. The Des Moines lawyer, Richard Schmidt, was suspended for 30 days in April and his license has been reinstated.
ABAJournal.com: "Quicker Suspensions Justify Secrecy Proposal, Iowa OPR Chief Says"
Updated to add later coverage and to clarify that the proposal is to keep the factual basis for the misconduct a secret.