review of the report of the Iowa Supreme Court Grievance
commission recommends the revocation of an attorney's
license to practice law for violations of ethical rules.
van Brederode and Amanda K. Robinson, for complainant.
T. Moran, Urbandale, pro se.
Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board charged
attorney Derek T. Moran with violating rules of professional
conduct in connection with his representation of numerous
commercial truck drivers and his representation of a parent
in a child custody matter. The charges included
misappropriation or conversion of client funds. Moran failed
to meet his burden under Iowa Court Rule 36.8(2) to produce
evidence that he had a colorable future claim to unearned
funds. The Iowa Supreme Court Grievance Commission found
Moran violated multiple rules of professional conduct,
including conversion of client funds and recommended
revocation of his license. On our review, we determine that
Moran converted client funds for his personal use, among
other violations, and we revoke his license to practice law
in the State of Iowa.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
his temporary suspension in April 2016, Derek Moran practiced
law in Urbandale, Iowa. We find the following facts on our de
novo review of the record.
Consultants provides safety and compliance services to motor
carriers and professional drivers nationwide. As part of its
services, CDL Consultants hires attorneys to represent its
customers who have received traffic citations that may affect
their commercial driver's licenses. The goal of the legal
representation is to resolve the citations in a manner
avoiding loss of driving privileges and employment. CDL
Consultants hired Moran to represent its customers who
received traffic citations in Iowa. There was no written
contract between CDL Consultants and Moran. The parties
worked on a case-by-case basis. CDL Consultants referred
drivers' citations to Moran and paid Moran separately for
each citation. Moran agreed to enter an appearance on behalf
of the cited driver and attempt to negotiate a favorable
resolution. Moran was paid a flat fee between $150 and $350
per citation. If the case went to trial, Moran would be paid
an additional fee.
a year and a half into this business relationship, CDL
Consultants began receiving complaints from drivers. The
drivers reported that Moran failed to communicate with them,
failed to appear in court or inform them of required court
dates, or entered guilty pleas without their permission. Some
reported that their licenses had been suspended for missing
court appearances. CDL Consultants tried to contact Moran,
but he stopped returning phone calls and stopped responding
to emails. CDL Consultants sent a staff person from Chicago
to Moran's office in Urbandale. The staff member could
see Moran inside, but Moran refused to come to the door.
against Moran were made by thirty-four professional drivers
in thirty-five cases (one driver had two separate cases).
Moran pocketed fees totaling $6900 from CDL Consultants to
represent these clients. In four cases, Moran failed to enter
an appearance or take any action. In nine cases, Moran
entered an appearance and plea of not guilty, but then failed
to perform further work or notify the clients of court dates,
leading to their convictions when no one appeared for trial.
In twenty-two cases, Moran entered guilty pleas without the
November 25, 2015, CDL Consultants sent Moran a letter
expressing its concern that he had not been working on the
cases despite having been paid $6900. CDL Consultants
demanded a refund of the legal fees. Moran did not respond to
the letter and did not refund any of the fees. There is no
evidence Moran deposited the fees into a trust account, and
Moran did not provide any accounting of his legal services.
There is, however, evidence that Moran took unearned fees.
Consultants had to hire other counsel to take over the cases
and incurred approximately $11, 000-$12, 000 in additional
legal expenses. Some of the drivers lost their jobs after
their commercial driver's licenses were suspended in the
cases Moran had ...