Oregon State Bar Bulletin — DECEMBER 2013


A Broken System

I stipulated to a reprimand arising from a bar complaint related to the settlement of a lawsuit which sought $4 million, which resulted in a multipart settlement of $2,500 plus actual cost (no fees) and a financial interest in a companion case. The settlement required among other conditions that the adverse party execute a truthful affidavit which negated an allegation of the complaint.

A bar complaint arose when the affidavit was used in the companion case. The OSB took the position that the affidavit, truthful or not, was “paying for testimony.” I disagree. However, why would I stipulate to something I didn’t think as a violation of the rules of ethics?

The bar complaint against me originated over four and half years ago. A four and a half-year process to resolve a bar complaint is simply unacceptable. I have tried aggravated murder and complex civil cases in less than a third of this time. The bar defines a reprimand as appropriate for conduct that is “not particularly aggravated or serious.” A four and a half-year investigation demonstrates our disciplinary system is broken. I felt so worn down with the process that I wasn’t about to spend one more day, month, year or longer responding when the offered reprimand would make it all go away.

I am proud of my profession and the work I have done for my clients, and I hope the bar’s disciplinary office accepts my reprimand of a broken system.

Robert L. Wolf, Portland


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