Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
The requirement of candor towards the tribunal goes beyond simply telling a portion of the truth. It requires every attorney to be fully honest and forthright. The South Dakota Supreme Court cannot overemphasize the importance of attorneys in the state being absolutely fair with the court. Every court has the right to rely upon an attorney to assist it in ascertaining the truth of the case before it. Therefore, candor and fairness should characterize the conduct of an attorney at the beginning, during, and at the close of litigation. There is no allowance for interpretation.
Attorney Timothy J. Wilka was reported to the Disciplinary Board of the State Bar of South Dakota by Second Circuit Judge Glen Severson for violations of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, stemming from Wilka's use of an incomplete drug report during a visitation hearing and his misleading responses to Judge Severson's questions regarding the report. The Board recommended discipline in the form of a public censure.
Did Wilka’s conduct warrant a public censure?
The instant court concluded that Wilka’s conduct warranted a public censure. While Wilka may not have directly lied to the court, he intentionally evaded the plain and understandable questions of the trial judge. In doing so, the attorney misled the trial court and misrepresented the evidence as being more than it was. Wilka’s intent to mislead the trial court was not mitigated by his concerns over his client's right to confidentiality, as the dilemma in which the attorney found himself was one of his own making. Wilka’s deceitful and intentional conduct clearly crossed the line into improper and unprofessional conduct.