IN THE MATTER OF: TINA L. MORIN, An Attorney-at-Law
File No. 16-210
FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND
on the formal Complaint came before an adjudicatory
panel of the Commission on Practice on January 10, 2018, in
Helena, Montana. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel was
represented by Deputy Disciplinary Counsel Jon Moog.
Respondent was present and represented by Palmer Hooverstal.
Panel members were Ward "Mick" Taleff (chair), Brad
Belke, Jean Faure, Lori Maloney, Lois Menzies, Dan
O'Brien and Heather Perry. Commissioner Dan McLean was
excused from participation on this panel.
upon the evidence presented, the Commission makes its
findings of fact based on a clear and convincing standard,
reaches its conclusions of law, and submits its
recommendation for discipline.
Morin ("Morin") was admitted to the practice of law
in Montana in 1992, at which time she took the oath required
for admission, agreed to abide by the Rules of Professional
Conduct, the Disciplinary Rules adopted by the Montana
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, then in effect or as thereafter amended.
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. The MRPC were in effect at all times
relevant to this matter.
July 2, 2015, Morin filed a lawsuit on behalf of her law firm
in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana,
Morin Law Firm v. Leonard Carder, et al, CV-
15-30-B-SEH. District Court Judge Sam E. Haddon presided over
the case. The Complaint was subsequently amended on
December 9, 2015, to add Morin individually as a Plaintiff.
4. At a
hearing held December 7, 2015, Judge Haddon told Morin that
based on her admitted role as a witness, she could not
represent her law firm in the case and would need to retain
new counsel to do so. By a subsequent Order dated
February 24, 2016, Judge Haddon gave the firm until March 4,
2016, to obtain new counsel. He expressly ruled that a
failure to do so would result in all documents filed by Morin
Shortly before the deadline to retain new counsel, Morin
engaged attorney Colin Delli Bovi in a conversation when they
encountered each other at a courthouse. Delli Bovi was not at
that time admitted to practice in federal court in Montana
and had very limited legal experience. He had handled
primarily a limited number of non-complex criminal cases and
had virtually no civil litigation experience. Those facts
were known to Morin. Delli Bovi had at the time never
conducted a deposition, responded to a motion for summary
judgment or to a motion for a protective order, or had
otherwise been involved in any civil case of even moderate
complexity. Nevertheless, Morin inquired as to his
willingness to undertake work on behalf of her firm,
including representation of her firm in the matter before
Judge Haddon. Delli Bovi agreed to do so.
March 2, 2016, Delli Bovi filed a Notice of
Appearance on behalf of Morin's firm and Morin. It
appears he was admitted to federal practice that same day,
sponsored by Morin.
litigation was contentious, eventually involving a dispute
over the location of depositions of certain persons. Morin
wanted the depositions to take place in Montana, while the
Defendants insisted they had the right to be deposed in the
location of their residence. On June 14, 2016, the Defendants
filed a Motion for Protective Order when the parties
continued lo disagree over the issue.
argument over where the depositions would be conducted also
created a disagreement between Morin and Delli Bovi. He
believed her position was not meritorious, while she insisted
he file a response brief on the motion for a protective
order. He refused to do so, and on June 15, 2016, Delli Bovi
filed a Motion to Withdraw. As grounds for the
motion, he represented that he was not competent to handle
this type of case. Although not artfully phrased, his
representation in that regard was accurate.
June 21, 2016, a hearing was held on the motion for a
protective order and on the motion to withdraw. At the
hearing, Judge Haddon expressly told Morin (again) that she
was disqualified from appearing as counsel. Further, he
advised Delli Bovi that he would not be allowed to withdraw
until Morin and her firm had new counsel of record. Judge
Haddon gave Delli Bovi until June 24, 2016, to file "any
additional paperwork" supporting his motion to withdraw.
Significantly, Morin told Judge Haddon at the hearing she did
not object to Delli Bovi's withdrawal. She complained
about his refusal to file a responsive brief to the motion
for a protective order, stating:
He has filed documents and had correspondence with opposing
Counsel that is harmful to the position, to my position in
this case. He has taken a position and had conversations with
opposing Counsel that was not authorized by me. And we do
oppose their Motion for Protective Order. We do have a
brief to file. Mr. Delli Bovi does not want to file it
because, as he said to you and to the Court, he does not feel
competent to proceed in this case, so - - (emphasis added)
June 24, 2016, Delli Bovi filed his Additional Support
Regarding Motion to Withdraw from Representation. Delli
Bovi attached to his pleading a Consent to Withdrawal ...