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Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Bd. v. Daniels

Supreme Court of Iowa

October 25, 2013

IOWA SUPREME COURT ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY BOARD, Complainant,
v.
Curt N. DANIELS, Respondent.

Page 673

Charles L. Harrington and Nicholas Trè Critelli, III, Des Moines, for complainant.

Curt N. Daniels, Chariton, pro se.

CADY, Chief Justice.

The Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board charged Curt N. Daniels with three violations of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct, asserting Daniels filed frivolous pleadings and made a false statement to the court in a pleading. The Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa found Daniels violated a rule of professional conduct by filing frivolous matters with the court on two occasions. The commission recommended Daniels receive a public reprimand. On our review, we find Daniels violated one

Page 674

rule of professional conduct on one occasion, and we impose a public reprimand.

I. Background Facts and Prior Proceedings.

Curt N. Daniels is both a lawyer and veterinarian. He is seventy-five years old. He obtained a degree in veterinary medicine in 1965. He obtained a law degree in 1973. Although he was admitted to the practice of law in Iowa that same year, Daniels continued to practice veterinary medicine in Chariton.

Daniels also operated a hog confinement facility in Jasper County. The confinement facility was located on property owned by an Iowa corporation owned by Daniels. In 1998, a limited liability company owned and operated by John Holtz purchased the property at a tax sale. The property was sold after the corporation owned by Daniels stopped paying the real estate taxes on it.

In 2002, Daniels left the practice of veterinary medicine and began practicing law in Chariton as a sole practitioner. In 2003, the company owned by Holtz brought a replevin action against Daniels and his corporation to recover equipment and property Daniels removed fro the Jasper County property following the tax sale. Daniels represented himself and his corporation in the lawsuit. The action resulted in a monetary judgment against Daniels and his corporation in 2004, based on the wrongful detention of property. The events that followed over the next several years culminated in this disciplinary action against Daniels.

Daniels filed an appeal from the judgment entered against him and his corporation in favor of Holtz's company. The appeal was filed after the district court denied a motion for new trial filed by Daniels and after Holtz accepted a remittitur of damages established by the district court.

During the pendency of the appeal, Daniels initiated an action against Holtz and his company in district court, alleging they engaged in fraudulent practices during the tax sale of the Jasper County property. After commencing the action, Daniels moved to amend his petition to include numerous additional claims against the attorney and the law firm that represented Holtz and his company. Daniels claimed the attorney engaged in deception and collusion with Holtz during the tax sale. Five of the claims against the attorney were based on alleged violations of the Iowa Code of Professional Responsibility. The district court denied the motion to amend and ultimately granted summary judgment for Holtz and his company.

In 2008, we affirmed the 2004 judgment entered by the district court in favor of the company owned by Holtz on the condition that the remittitur again be accepted. WSH Props., L.L.C. v. Daniels, 761 N.W.2d 45, 52-53 (Iowa 2008). However, we remanded the case to the district court for a new trial in the event the remittitur was not accepted. Id. at 53.

On remand, Daniels filed a motion for new trial in district court, and the company accepted the remittitur. The motion for new trial, filed in October 2008, generally alleged the existence of newly discovered evidence. In an affidavit accompanying the motion, Daniels alleged the existence of perjury and discovery improprieties during the case. In January 2009, the district court denied this motion on its merits. No appeal was filed within the thirty-day period permitted by the rules of appellate procedure. See ...


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