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In re Horton

Supreme Court of Montana

August 7, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF MICHAEL A. HORTON, An Attorney at Law, Respondent.

          Jon G. Moog Deputy Disciplinary Counsel

          COMPLAINT

         Upon leave of the Commission on Practice granted on July 19, 2017, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the State of Montana ("ODC") hereby charges Michael A. Horton with professional misconduct as follows:

         General Allegations

         1. Michael A. Horton, hereinafter referred to as Respondent, was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Montana in 2002, at which time he took the oath required for admission, wherein he 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 September 29, 2015, Jami Gibby ("Ms. Gibby") retained Respondent to assist her with an amended parenting plan (Gallatin County Cause No. DR 2014-417) filed by the father of her son ("Mr. Powell") in November 2014.

         5. Ms. Gibby paid Respondent a $4, 500 retainer.

         6. Prior to retaining Respondent, Ms. Gibby was represented by attorney Sherine Fernando. During Ms. Fernando's representation, the parties had entered into an "Outline of Agreement" regarding parenting on May 7, 2015.

         7. Communications took place between Respondent and adverse counsel on October 27 and 28, 2015, in which it was agreed Ms. Gibby would move to dismiss a previously filed Order of Protection against Mr. Powell. Respondent filed the motion and the Order of Protection was dismissed by the Court on October 28, 2015.

         8. There is no evidence of communication from Respondent to Ms. Gibby again until December 14, 2015, when he sent her an email stating he "thought I should check in with you regarding where your case sits right now."

         9. Respondent and Ms. Gibby exchanged two emails on December 24, 2015 regarding holiday visitation.

         10.There is a documented string of emails between January 19 and February 2, 2016, wherein child support payments and the ...


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