review of the report of the Iowa Supreme Court Grievance
commission recommends the revocation of an attorney's
license to practice law for violation of a disciplinary rule.
van Brederode and Amanda K. Robinson, for complainant.
Clarence B. Meldrum Jr., Council Bluffs, for respondent.
Don Richard John Bauermeister pleaded guilty to federal
felony drug charges. He sent a coconspirator on multiple
trips to Oregon to acquire bulk quantities of marijuana for
Bauermeister to sell for profit in Omaha. His mule was
arrested in Utah returning with thirteen pounds of
marijuana. When federal agents served a search
warrant on Bauermeister, he self-reported to the Iowa Supreme
Court Attorney Disciplinary Board (Board), and his license
was placed under temporary suspension. The Board charged
Bauermeister with violating Iowa Rule of Professional Conduct
32:8(4)(b) (committing a criminal act reflecting adversely on
the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness). A
division of the Iowa Supreme Court Grievance Commission found
Bauermeister violated the rule and recommended revocation of
his law license. The Board seeks revocation. For the reasons
explained below, we revoke his license to practice law.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
the following facts on our de novo review of the record.
Bauermeister, a resident of Omaha, Nebraska, was admitted to
practice law in Iowa in 2002. He worked as a full-time
assistant city attorney for the City of Council Bluffs. He
also maintained a small, part-time private practice in
Council Bluffs. His private practice consisted primarily of
defending criminal cases. Bauermeister closed his private
practice and resigned from the city attorney's office
after his arrest.
November 18, 2016, until January 9, 2017, Bauermeister
conspired with other individuals to buy marijuana in Oregon
to sell in Omaha. Bauermeister engaged in drug dealing to
make money. He does not claim any addiction or medicinal need
for marijuana. Bauermeister paid a coconspirator to travel
from Omaha to Medford, Oregon, pick up the marijuana, and
bring it to Omaha. Bauermeister's coconspirator made
three trips to bring marijuana from Oregon to Nebraska for
resale. For the first two trips, Bauermeister paid the mule
$1500 upon delivery of the marijuana to Bauermeister in
Omaha. The coconspirator brought back six pounds of marijuana
on the first trip and eight pounds on the second trip.
third trip, Bauermeister agreed to pay Gerald Wyzenski $2000
upon delivery of the marijuana. On January 9, 2017, during
the drive back from Oregon, Wyzenski was stopped by a Utah
state trooper for having an expired motor vehicle
registration. The trooper smelled marijuana in the vehicle
and conducted a search. This search revealed twelve,
one-pound packages of marijuana and one package of THC wax,
together weighing thirteen pounds.
enforcement obtained a search warrant for Wyzenski's cell
phone, which held text messages with Bauermeister about the
drug deals. In these text messages, Bauermeister gave
specific directions to meet the source of the marijuana.
31, federal agents personally served Bauermeister with a
search warrant for his cell phone. He turned his phone over
to the agents and cooperated with the investigation. On June
9, Bauermeister self-reported his conduct to the Board.
August 24, Bauermeister was indicted on one count of
conspiring to possess and distribute a controlled substance
in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1),
841(b)(1)(D), and 846 (2012). This offense is a felony under
federal law and carries a maximum five-year prison term, a
maximum fine of $250, 000, and a term of supervised release
of at least two, and not more than three, years.
October 30, Bauermeister pleaded guilty as charged in the
indictment in exchange for the federal government's
nonbinding sentencing recommendation of probation.
Bauermeister was sentenced on January 29, 2018, to five years
of probation and a $5000 fine. Bauermeister's license to
practice law has been temporarily suspended since February 21
of that year. Bauermeister filed an affidavit consenting to
revocation of his license. Our court elected to refer his
case to the Board for investigation.
19, the Board filed a complaint against Bauermeister,
alleging he violated Iowa Rule of Professional Conduct
32:8.4(b) by "commit[ting] a criminal act that reflects
adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or
fitness as a lawyer in other respects." The Board gave
him notice that his criminal conviction was conclusive
evidence warranting revocation or suspension of his license
under Iowa Code section 602.10122 (2016). The Board also
notified him that it intended to invoke the doctrine of issue
preclusion under Iowa Court Rule 36.17(4)(c).
parties stipulated to the facts and to Bauermeister's
violation of Iowa Rule of Professional Conduct 32:8.4(b). On
December 26, after a hearing, the commission issued its
findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommended
sanction. The commission adopted the stipulation of facts and
rule violation and recommended revocation until February 21,
parties disagree as to the appropriate sanction. Bauermeister
now requests a suspension of his license to practice law
until January 31, 2023, to track with his federal probation.
The Board recommends revocation.
Standard of Review.
review attorney disciplinary proceedings de novo."
Iowa Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary Bd. v.
Templeton, 784 N.W.2d 761, 764 (Iowa 2010). "The
Board has the burden of proving a violation of an ethical
rule 'by a convincing preponderance of the
evidence.'" Iowa Supreme Ct. Att'y
Disciplinary Bd. v. Moran, 919 N.W.2d 754, 758 (Iowa
2018) (quoting Iowa Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary
Bd. v. Van Ginkel, 809 N.W.2d 96, 102 (Iowa 2012)).
"A convincing preponderance of the evidence is more than
a preponderance of the evidence, but less than proof beyond a
reasonable doubt." Id. (quoting Iowa
Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary Bd. v. Thomas, 844
N.W.2d 111, 113 (Iowa 2014)). "It is also a less
stringent burden than clear and convincing evidence which is
'the highest civil law standard of proof.'"
Iowa Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary Bd. v.
Roush, 827 N.W.2d 711, 716 (Iowa 2013) (quoting Iowa
Supreme Ct. Bd. of Prof'l Ethics & Conduct v.
Ronwin, 557 N.W.2d 515, 517 (Iowa 1996)).
parties have submitted a stipulation of facts and violation.
"Stipulations of fact are controlling, but stipulations
as to violations and appropriate sanctions do not bind
us." Iowa Supreme Ct. Att'y Disciplinary Bd. v.
Lubinus, 869 N.W.2d 546, 549 (Iowa 2015). "Upon
proof of misconduct, we may impose a greater or lesser