Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Or. Code of Prof'l Responsibility DR 1-102 (A) (3) provides that (A) it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: (3) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. Also, Or. Code Prof'l Responsibility DR 7-102(A) (1989) provides, in part in the lawyer's representation of a client, a lawyer shall not: (5) knowingly make a false statement of law or fact; (6) participate in the creation or preservation of evidence when the lawyer knows or it is obvious that the evidence is false; (8) knowingly engage in other illegal conduct or conduct contrary to a Disciplinary Rule. On the other, Or. Rev. Stat. § 9.527 provides, in part that the Supreme Court may disbar, suspend or reprimand a member of the bar whenever, upon proper proceedings for that purpose, it appears to the court that: (4) The member is guilty of willful deceit or misconduct in the legal profession.
This was a disciplinary proceeding brought by the Oregon State Bar alleging violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility and a statutory violation of the accused, Volney F. Morin Jr. The accused was licensed to practice law in California in 1974 and was admitted to practice law in Oregon in 1984. During the spring of 1988, the accused began conducting living trust seminars and selling living trust packages, which included pour-over wills and directives to physicians. The series of living will seminars were conducted with two paralegals. Often, the accused had the paralegals conduct the seminars without him. That, because of the difficulty in securing witnesses necessary to properly attest to the wills that seminar attendees purchased, the accused directed the paralegals and other members of the staff to complete the witness attestation outside of the presence of the clients. When the Oregon state bar investigated these practices, the accused misrepresented the extent to which this practice took place. Thus, the Trial Panel of the Disciplinary Board found that the accused should be disbarred for numerous violations of Or. Code of Prof'l Responsibility DR 1-102(A)(2), (3), (5), (6), and (8), 1-103(C), 2-106(A), and DR 3-101(A), and violation of Or. Rev. Stat. § 9.527(4), in connection with a scheme to falsely witness living trusts and physician directives for clients. The accused challenged the decision finding that he should be disbarred for violations of the state bar ethics code and related statutes.
Should the accused attorney be disbarred?
The court ordered disbarment. The court ruled that the accused acted intentionally in misrepresenting to clients that they had received validly executed wills and in misrepresenting the scope of the conduct during the bar investigation. Also, the ABA Standards indicated that the accused should be disbarred. See ABA Standard 4.61 which provided that disbarment was generally appropriate when lawyer knowingly deceives client to benefit himself and causes serious injury or potentially serious injury to a client; ABA Standard 5.11 provided that disbarment was generally appropriate when lawyer engages in conduct involving false swearing, misrepresentation, dishonesty, fraud, or deceit; ABA Standard 7.1 provided that disbarment was generally appropriate when lawyer knowingly engages in conduct in violation of a duty to the profession with intent to benefit the lawyer and causes serious or potentially serious harm. Moreover, prior decisions by this court showed that disbarment was the appropriate sanction. Conduct by a lawyer that deceives clients for the purposes of gaining money has been treated as warranting disbarment. In addition, the accused repeatedly made misrepresentations to the Bar that obstructed its investigation. The aggregate conduct of the accused, misleading both his clients and the Bar, warrants disbarment.