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In re Morin

Supreme Court of Montana

July 28, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF TINA L. MORIN, An Attorney at Law, Respondent.

          Jon G. Moog Deputy Disciplinary Counsel Office of Disciplinary Counsel

          COMPLAINT

         By leave of the Commission on Practice granted on July 19, 2017, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the State of Montana ("ODC"), hereby charges Tina L. Morin with professional misconduct as follows:

         General Allegations

         1. Tina L. Morin, hereinafter referred to as Respondent, was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Montana in 1992, 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 realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 2 of the General Allegations as if fully restated in this Count One.

         4. On or about November 2013, Respondent began representing Ronald Lowney ("Ron") as an interested party in a guardianship/conservatorship action in Butte-Silver Bow County District Court styled In the Matter of Judith A. Lowney, An Incapacitated Person* Cause No. DG-11-15, Honorable Kurt Krueger presiding ("the guardianship proceeding"). Upon information and belief, Respondent was retained by Ron, a resident of Butte, to pursue appellate and post-judgment relief consistent with his interests in expanded, unsupervised visitation with his wife of fifty years, Judith Lowney ("Judy"), as Judy's guardians (her brother and sister-in-law, Robert and Debbie Bugni, hereinafter "the guardians") had placed her in an assisted living center near their home in Helena and Judge Krueger had limited Ron's visitation to once monthly, if practical, on a supervised basis.

         5. In the guardianship proceeding, Judge Krueger appointed attorney Debbie M. Churchill ("Churchill") as Judy's guardian ad litem and counsel of record by Order filed June 9, 2011, which Order remains in effect.

         6. In the guardianship proceeding, attorney Steven Shapiro ("Shapiro") represents the guardians.

         7. In the guardianship proceeding, Judy was judicially determined to be incapacitated and appointed permanent full guardians and conservators on July 15, 2011. Judy's grown children were initially appointed but subsequently replaced by the guardians at present in May 2013.

         8. On or about November 18, 2013, Respondent filed a notice of appeal concerning Judge Krueger's final orders appointing the guardians, awarding of spousal support and attorneys' fees, and imposing the visitation restriction. The appeal was docketed as DA 13-0767 and styled as In the Matter of: J.A.L., An

         Incapacitated Person.

         9. Following briefing, the Montana Supreme Court affirmed Judge Krueger's rulings by Opinion ...


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