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Legal Ethics

Iowa Supreme Court Rejects Proposal to Keep Facts of Consent Suspensions Secret

Posted Aug 29, 2011 11:35 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The Iowa Supreme Court has rejected a proposal aimed at speeding up the lawyer discipline process by keeping secret the reasons for consent suspensions.

Court spokesman Steve Davis told the Des Moines Register the public’s need for information about suspended lawyers who may return to law practice outweighs the need to expedite ethics prosecutions.

The court’s Office of Professional Regulation had proposed the idea. The director of the office, Paul Wieck II, acknowledged competing interests in an interview with the ABA Journal last month. “Certainly there’s an interest in a suspension situation in the public generally knowing what conduct was involved,” he said. “But there’s an interest in moving a lawyer who commits violations out of practice as soon as possible.”

Wieck had said his proposal mirrored the process for attorney disbarment in the state. When lawyers consent to disbarment, the affidavits they file outlining the facts of the case remain private unless the Iowa Supreme Court requires disclosure.

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