Justia Legal Ethics Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Alaska Supreme Court

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A client personally financed the sale of his business corporation. His attorney drafted documents that secured the buyer’s debt with corporate stock and an interest in the buyer’s home. Over seven years later the government imposed tax liens on the corporation’s assets; according to the client, it was only then he learned for the first time that his attorney had not provided for a recorded security interest in the physical assets. The client sued the attorney for malpractice and violation of the Alaska Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Act (UTPA). The superior court held that the statute of limitations barred the client’s claims and granted summary judgment to the attorney. But after review, the Alaska Supreme Court concluded that it was not until the tax liens were filed that the client suffered the actual damage necessary for his cause of action to be complete. Therefore, the Court reversed the superior court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Jones v. Westbrook" on Justia Law

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Shareholders of a closely held corporation brought a derivative suit against a shareholder-director and the corporation's former attorneys for fiduciary fraud, fraudulent conveyance, legal malpractice, and civil conspiracy. After an evidentiary hearing, the superior court ruled all the claims were time-barred. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court affirmed the superior court's dismissal of most claims, but reversed its dismissal of two and remanded those claims for further proceedings. View "Gefre v. Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP" on Justia Law

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In early April 2012 the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct (Commission) referred to the Supreme Court its unanimous recommendation for removal of Judge Dennis Cummings, a district court judge in Bethel. However in December 2011, Judge Cummings had announced his retirement and he retired shortly after the Court received the Commission's recommendation. Despite Judge Cummings's retirement, the Court considered this matter a live controversy - a judge's retirement did not extinguish the Commission's and the Supreme Court's jurisdiction to complete disciplinary proceedings, and "there [were] important policy reasons to do so." After independently reviewing the record and the Commission's recommendation to remove Judge Cummings, the Court accepted the Commission's recommendation for removal. View "In Re Cummings" on Justia Law

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A bar served a man alcohol while he was visibly intoxicated, and the man murdered a woman later that evening. The lawyer representing the bar in the subsequent dram shop action did not attempt to add the murderer as a party for apportionment of fault. Following entry of a large judgment against the bar, the bar brought a legal malpractice suit against its attorney. The attorney moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, arguing that where case law is unsettled, as a matter of law an attorney cannot be held liable for an error in judgment. The superior court granted the motion and the bar appealed. "Because the existence of unsettled law does not excuse an attorney from fulfilling a duty of care," the Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "L.D.G., Inc. v. Robinson" on Justia Law