review of the report of the Iowa Supreme Court Grievance
commission recommends suspension of an attorney's license
for violations of ethical rules.
van Brederode and Andrew J. Boettger, Des Moines, for
John Humphrey, Fort Madison, pro se.
attorney failed to prosecute an appeal for one client, never
communicated with a second client in a criminal matter, and
failed to address his loss of a third client's abstract
of title. The attorney also dragged his feet in responding to
the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board (the
Board) and, in one instance, misrepresented to the Board what
he had done. In addition, the attorney has a significant
history of discipline for similar misconduct. See Iowa
Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary Bd. v. Humphrey, 812
N.W.2d 659 (Iowa 2012); Iowa Supreme Ct. Bd. of
Prof'l Ethics & Conduct v. Humphrey, 551 N.W.2d
306 (Iowa 1996); Comm. on Prof'l Ethics & Conduct
v. Humphrey, 529 N.W.2d 255 (Iowa 1995).
attorney and the Board reached a stipulation as to facts and
ethical rule violations, which included a recommended
sixty-day suspension of the attorney's license. The Iowa
Supreme Court Grievance Commission found this sanction to be
too lenient and recommended an indefinite suspension of at
least eighteen months. We likewise find the stipulated
sanction to be too lenient. We impose an indefinite
suspension with no possibility of reinstatement for one year.
Facts and Procedural History.
Humphrey is a solo practitioner in Fort Madison who was
admitted to the Iowa bar in 1981. This disciplinary
proceeding relates to Humphrey's representation of three
The A.M. Matter.
and 2016, Humphrey represented A.M., the mother, in a private
termination of parental rights proceeding. After filing a
notice of appeal on A.M.'s behalf, Humphrey did nothing
to advance the appeal. Humphrey later explained that his
client had indicated she no longer wished to pursue the
appeal. However, as Humphrey put it, "I did not make a
responsive filing with the Court to dismiss the appeal, but
rather allowed the dismissal to occur by order of the Court;
obviously not a prudent decision on my part."
Humphrey ignored a notice of default from the clerk of the
appellate courts, failed to pay an assessed penalty of $150,
and simply allowed the appeal to be dismissed pursuant to
Iowa Rule of Appellate Procedure 6.1202.
The Gerety Matter.
2017, Daniel Francis Gerety was charged with operating while
intoxicated, first offense, in violation of Iowa Code section
321J.2. He retained Humphrey to represent him and paid him an
$800 retainer. Humphrey entered an appearance on Gerety's
behalf on March 22, 2017.
Gerety did not appear for his pretrial conference on July 11,
the district court rescheduled the pretrial conference for
August 22 and the trial for September 13. On August 22,
Humphrey informed the court that Gerety wanted to submit a
written guilty plea. On September 11, Humphrey moved to
continue the trial on the ground that Gerety lived in
California and needed more time to file the written guilty
plea. The court granted a continuance, and Gerety ultimately
signed the written guilty plea on September 19, which
Humphrey filed on September 25.
Gerety had mailed a complaint to the Board with a September
11 postmark, complaining that he had "never heard
from" Humphrey after hiring him and paying an $800
retainer. As Gerety stated, "I would call & or text
. . . at least 50 times over the next 5 mos. For an update or
progress report & wouldn't ...