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Committee on Professional Ethics and Conduct of Iowa State Bar Association v. Mershon

Iowa Supreme Court
316 N.W.2d 895 (1982)


Facts

Attorney Robert Mershon (defendant) provided ongoing legal representation to Leonard Miller, a farmer in Iowa. Miller owned 100 acres of land that he wanted to develop into a residential development, but lacked the financing to support the project. A local landscape architect, R.O. Schenk, suggested to Miller and Mershon that the three men form a company to develop the land through obtaining third-party financing. The three men formed Union Township Development, Inc. (Union Township), to which Miller contributed the land, Schenk signed a promissory note agreeing to contribute engineering services, and Mershon signed a promissory note agreeing to perform future legal services. In exchange, Miller received 400 shares of stock and Mershon and Schenk received 200 and 400 shares of stock, respectively. The company never obtained financing and the project fell apart. Thereafter, Miller died and Mershon was appointed executor of Miller’s estate for a brief period of time until he resigned. Thereafter, the Iowa State Bar Grievance Commission (Commission) (plaintiff) investigated and reprimanded Mershon for failing to obtain Miller’s consent to his ownership in Union Township. Mershon appealed. The Iowa Supreme Court granted certiorari.

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Holding and Reasoning (McCormick, J.)

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