July 9, 2013
IN THE MATTER OF PHILIP O'CONNELL, An Attorney at Law, Respondent.
PROCEEDING IN PUBLIC CENSURE
McGRATH, CHIEF JUSTICE
This is the time and date set for the public censure of Philip O'Connell, a member of the State Bar of Montana. Sir, are you the Philip O'Connell who is the subject of disciplinary action in this Court under our Cause Number 12-0665? Do you have counsel?
Mr, O'Connell, if you will now come to the well of the Court in front of the rostrum and face the Court, Justice Baker will administer the public censure.
JUSTICE BETH BAKER: Mr, O'Connell, this public censure is being delivered today in accordance with our order of June 11, 2013, a copy of which was sent to you. The disciplinary complaint against you is based on your failure to provide competent representation to two separate clients in different proceedings. These proceedings in public censure are founded upon your tendered admission-which this Court approved upon the recommendation of the Commission on Practice-that you violated Rules 1.1 and 1.3 of the MRPC by failing to provide competent representation to a client that reflects adversely on your honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer.
In addition, you also have acknowledged that, with respect to one of the two clients, you violated Rule 1.5, MRPC, in that you failed to communicate in writing the scope of representation and the basis or rate of the fee and expenses, and violated Rules 1.15 and 1.18, MRPC, because you did not deposit the $1, 000 client retainer in a trust account and took those fees before they were earned. In addition, you have acknowledged that you violated Rule 1.16(d), MRPC, because upon termination of your representation you failed to take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect the client's interest; and violated Rule 1.16(a)(2), MRPC, because you represented the client at a time when you suffered from a condition that materially impaired your ability to do so.
Finally, you failed to promptly and fully respond to inquiries from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in violation of Rule 8.1(b), MRPC.
Mr. O'Connell, we hereby impose upon you the public censure of this Court.
Do you have anything you want to say?
Copies of this Proceeding in Public Censure shall be delivered to you, Mr. O'Connell, the Chair and Secretary of the Commission, Disciplinary Counsel, the Clerks of all of the District Courts of the State of Montana, all of the District Judges of the State of Montana, the Clerk of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit, and the Executive Director of the State Bar of Montana.