review of the report of the Iowa Supreme Court Grievance
attorney disciplinary action, the grievance commission
recommends a sixty-day suspension. LICENSE
van Brederode and Amanda K. Robinson, Des Moines, for
D. Brown, Emmetsburg, and Donald H. Capotosto, West Bend, pro
se, for respondent.
case is before us on review from a report and recommendation
of a division of the Iowa Supreme Court Grievance Commission
concerning attorney Donald Capotosto. The report found
Capotosto committed ethical violations and recommended he be
suspended from the practice of law for sixty days. We find
Capotosto violated the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct by
neglecting several probate cases. We suspend his license to
practice law in Iowa for sixty days.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
Capotosto is an Iowa attorney admitted to practice law in
1973. He resides and maintains a private practice in West
Bend, Iowa. In addition to his private practice, he regularly
accepts court-appointed criminal and juvenile cases. This
disciplinary proceeding involves Capotosto's conduct in
handling several probate cases and his failure to cure
December 21, 2018, Capotosto and the Iowa Supreme Court
Attorney Disciplinary Board jointly filed a stipulation of
facts and rule violations. Capotosto stipulated that he
allowed six probate estates to become delinquent and violated
Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct 32:1.3; 32:1.4(a)(3), (4);
and 32:8.4(d). The parties also stipulated that Capotosto
entered into a deferral agreement (the Agreement) on March
to the Agreement, Capotosto was required to remedy all
delinquencies by June 1, 2018, or, alternatively, withdraw
from the cases. The terms of the Agreement also required
Capotosto to complete six hours of continuing legal education
in the area of probate law and submit quarterly reports to
the Board documenting his compliance with the conditions. The
Agreement prohibited Capotosto from commencing probate work
on estates for which he was not already the attorney of
record. Capotosto acknowledged that failure to meet the
conditions of the Agreement would result in disciplinary
actions against him.
failed to comply with the requirements of the Agreement. He
did not cure or withdraw from the already delinquent probate
estates. Moreover, Capotosto opened additional probate
estates, causing the number of delinquent cases to increase
from five to twelve by the time of the grievance commission
hearing. He also failed to file quarterly reports as required
under the Agreement.
has been previously subjected to disciplinary action. In
January 2015, he was publicly reprimanded for allowing
several probate estates to become delinquent. In January
2016, he was temporarily suspended for failing to respond to
a complaint from the Board.
Board Complaint and Commission Grievance Report.
Capotosto's failure to comply with the Agreement's
terms, the Board recommended a minimum sanction of a
six-month license suspension. It further recommended that
Capotosto be barred from handling probate cases in the
commission found Capotosto violated the rules set forth in
the stipulation. It also identified numerous aggravating
factors, including failing to cure delinquencies, failing to
withdraw from the cases, opening of new estates, and
receiving new notices of delinquency; a public reprimand in
2015; a temporary suspension in 2016; and the absence of a
succession plan. It also recognized several mitigating
circumstances, including letters of support and his
willingness to accept court-appointed cases. It also observed
that he completed substantial work on all of the cases.
Ultimately, the commission concluded Capotosto should receive
a sixty-day suspension.