Committee on Professional Ethics v. Randall

285 N.W.2d 161 (1979)

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Committee on Professional Ethics v. Randall

Iowa Supreme Court
285 N.W.2d 161 (1979)

Facts

John Randall (defendant), attorney, entered an attorney-client relationship with Lovell Myers in the early 1940s. In 1946, Randall and Myers purchased farmland pursuant to a joint venture. Myers ran the farming operations, and Randall managed the finances. The farming operations were incorporated as Myers Farms Inc. in 1952, and Randall and Myers each received 50 percent of the corporate stock. The farmland itself was deeded to the corporation in 1967. Myers had one daughter from a prior marriage, Marie Jensen. Marie, along with her husband, Warren, and their sons lived on corporate farmland starting in 1950. Marie and Warren took over the farming operations from Myers in 1974. Marie testified that Myers had told her in 1970 that he planned to pass his interest in the corporation to her after his death. In 1973, Randall drafted a will for Myers naming Randall as Myers’s sole beneficiary and executor. Randall did not advise Myers to have the will drafted by another attorney. Myers executed the will the same day it was drafted, and Randall kept the fully executed original in his desk drawer rather than storing it with the wills of other clients from Randall’s law firm. Myers died in early 1976. Shortly after Myers’s death, when asked by Marie, Randall denied knowledge of Myers’s will. Marie ultimately discovered the 1973 will’s existence via the court clerk’s records and then sued to set it aside. Randall testified that he forgot about the 1973 will. The Committee on Professional Ethics (plaintiff) charged Randall with unprofessional conduct for being the draftsman and sole beneficiary of Myers’s will. After a hearing, the committee recommended disbarment. Randall appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Harris, J.)

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