Law School Case Brief
In re Mountain - 239 Kan. 412, 721 P.2d 264 (1986)
Representing conflicting interests in an adoption proceeding violates the Model Code of Professional Responsibility.
Respondent R. Keith Mountain, an attorney, represented complainants Rodney and Carol Mosier in an adoption proceeding. In the course of this proceeding, Mountain helped the birth mother and the grandmother obtain financial assistance from the Mosiers, which they readily gave. The grandmother later became convinced that the Mosiers were not wealthy enough to adopt her granddaughter’s child, even though the Mosiers had already given the mother $300 temporary maintenance. Mountain, who convinced the birth mother and the grandmother that he was their attorney, suggested other couples to adopt the child. Mountain advised the grandmother that she would receive $5,000 under a new arrangement with another adopting couple. Mountain then called Mrs. Mosier and informed her that the fetus indicated some abnormalities, and that the Mosiers should abandon the adoption. Mrs. Mosier agreed to stop the adoption. Subsequently, Mountain arranged for another couple to adopt the baby. At the Mosiers’ request, another attorney investigated the matter, and ultimately a formal complaint was filed against Mountain by the disciplinary administrator, alleging that Mountain violated several ethical rules in the adoption proceeding. A hearing panel ordered that Mountain be disbarred. Mountain sought judicial review.
Did Mountain violate ethical rules warranting disbarment?
On review, the Supreme Court of Kansas affirmed the order disbarring Mountain. The court found that there was a conflict in interest under Model Code of Prof’l Responsibility DR-5-104(A). The court held that Mountain’s false statements to the Mosiers violated Model Code of Prof'l Responsibility DR 7-102(A)(3). The court further held that Mountain failed to carry out a contract of employment contrary to Model Code of Prof’l Responsibility DR 7-101(A)(1)(2) and (3). According to the Court, Mountain served as a procurer of a baby for adoption contrary to Model Code of Prof’l Responsibility DR 1-102 (A)(5) and (6). In addition, Mountain’s fee from the final adoptive parents was clearly excessive. Moreover, Mountain’s trust account was not properly maintained, contrary to Model Code of Prof’l Responsibility DR 9-102(A) and (B)(3).
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