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In re Strong

Supreme Court of Montana

August 1, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF PENELOPE STRONG, An Attorney at Law, Respondent

ODC File No. 12-296

COMPLAINT

Jon G. Moog Deputy Disciplinary Counsel

Upon leave of the Commission on Practice, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the State of Montana (ODC) hereby charges Penelope Strong with professional misconduct as follows:

General Allegations
1. Penelope Strong, hereinafter referred to as Respondent, was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Montana in 1994, at which time she took the oath required for admission, wherein she agreed to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Disciplinary Rules adopted by the Supreme Court, and the highest standards of honesty, justice, and morality, including, but not limited to, those outlined in parts 3 and 4 of Chapter 61, Title 37, Montana Code Annotated.
2. The Montana Supreme Court has approved and adopted the Montana Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC), governing the ethical conduct of attorneys licensed to practice in the State of Montana, which Rules were in effect at all times mentioned in this Complaint.
Count One
3. ODC re-alleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 2 of the General Allegations as if fully restated in this Count One.
4. On April 21, 2010, Brenda Bernard (Bernard) retained Respondent to pursue post-conviction relief for her son, Robert Caplette, Jr. (Caplette), who had been convicted of aggravated sexual abuse in federal court.
5. Bernard provided Respondent with a $ 15, 000 retainer.
6. Caplette had been found guilty by a jury in November 2008 and was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Sam Haddon (Judge Haddon) on February 23, 2010, to 210 months of incarceration followed by lifetime supervision. At trial, Caplette was represented by attorney Jason Holden.
7. Caplette's conviction was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, wherein he was represented by attorney Chad Wright.
8. On February 15, 2011, Respondent filed a pleading entitled "Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus" (Petition) alleging that attorneys Holden and Wright had provided Caplette with ineffective assistance of counsel as grounds for relief from his conviction.
9. By Order dated June 21, 2011, Judge Haddon dismissed a number of Respondent's claims but required the government to file a ...

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