Dear Utah State Bar Journal Editor:
It is my hope that the Utah Bar Journal will publish attorney discipline cases following trials or decisions wherein the lawyer prevails, in addition to those in which the Bar prevails.
OPC accused ALJs LaJeunesse and Hann of violating rule 8.4(d) of the rules of professional conduct (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice). ALJ LaJeunesse asserted he interpreted Labor Commission Law to allow ALJs to request clarification of flawed reports written to the ALJs without notice to the litigants. He and Hann reasoned the authors of the reports work in an adjunct capacity to advise the ALJs regarding medical aspects of cases. LaJeunesse also asserted Rule 2.9 of the Code of Judicial Conduct allows judges to have ex parte consultations with functionaries who aid judges in carrying out adjudicative responsibilities. Acting on a complaint by the Workers’ Compensation Fund of Utah, who learned Hann had returned a report for clarification without notice, the Bar accused ALJs LaJeunesse and Hann of violating the statute and rule 8.4(d).
I have the pleasure of representing ALJs LaJeunesse and Hann, who prevailed. After a five-day trial, Third District Court Judge Andrew Stone authored a nineteen page decision, dismissing LaJeunesse’s case. Stone wrote that attorneys and judges interpret laws all the time, and “[o]n any given day,…at least one side is generally wrong.” The Utah Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal in In re LaJeunesse, 2018 UT 6, agreeing that “our legal system could not function if the side whose view is rejected is in jeopardy of a professional misconduct charge .…” Id., ¶ 39. Hann’s case has now been dismissed with prejudice on her motion for summary judgment.
Inclusion of more complete litigation information is not only transparent, but should help lawyers better understand ethical norms. I look forward to the Bar’s consideration.
LAW OFFICE OF ELIZABETH BOWMAN, PLLC
Elizabeth A. Bowman
Attorney at Law
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