IN THE MATTER OF DAVID H. BJORNSON, an Attorney at Law, Respondent.
February 7, 2018, a formal disciplinary complaint was filed
against Montana attorney David H. Bjornson. The disciplinary
complaint, which is based upon Bjornson's November 2017
conviction in the Fourth Judicial District Court of felony
driving under the influence (DUI), may be reviewed by any
interested person in the office of the Clerk of this Court.
tendered to the Commission on Practice a conditional
admission and affidavit of consent, pursuant to Rule 26 of
the Montana Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement
(MRLDE). The Commission held a hearing on the conditional
admission and affidavit of consent on April 19, 2018, at
which hearing Bjornson and his counsel were present and
Bjornson testified on his own behalf.
3, 2018, the Commission submitted to this Court its Findings
of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation that
Bjornson's conditional admission be accepted. The
Commission stated this recommendation was "reluctantly
made by a slight majority of the members of the Adjudicatory
Panel, " and expressed its unanimous concern for
"the perception the public and other lawyers would take
from what might be seen in recommending a form of discipline
that is lenient given the length and severity of Mr.
Bjornson's struggle with alcohol" The Commission
found Bjornson's criminal history of six DUI-related
convictions to be "deeply troubling." The
Commission determined to make its recommendation based upon
the onerous conditions with which Bjornson must comply,
particularly over the next five years, when conditions will
be co-monitored by the criminal justice system, the lack of
any showing of loss to a client or the filing of an ethical
complaint by a client, and the lack of opposition by the
Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
approve the findings, conclusions, and recommendation of the
Commission on Practice, but share the Commission's
concerns about Bjornson's long struggle with sobriety. We
adopt the Commission's Recommendation upon its rationale
that, "[s]hould [Bjornson] violate the terms of his
probation, he will be incarcerated and he will lose his
license to practice law." A loss of license could
likewise occur if Bjornson violates a condition of his
10-year term of license probation recommended by the
conditional admission, Bjornson has admitted that his
conviction of felony DUI and his alcohol addiction affect his
ability to effectively practice law. He admits to violations
of Rule 8A(3) of the Montana Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary
Enforcement and Rule 8.4(b) of the Montana Rules of
Professional Conduct. Bjornson's admission was tendered
in exchange for the following discipline: a public censure by
this Court, a 10-year term of probation with terms and
conditions that would run concurrent with a five-year
probationary sentence on his criminal case, and payment of
upon the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
Commission's Recommendation that we accept Bjornson's
Rule 26 tendered admission is ACCEPTED and ADOPTED.
David H. Bjornson shall appear before this Court for a public
censure to be administered in our Courtroom, at 1:00
o'clock P.m. on June 12, 2018.
Bjornson's admission to the practice of law in Montana is
placed on a probationary status for ten years following the
date of this Order, subject to the following terms and
a. Bjornson shall not use or possess alcohol, marijuana, or
b. Bjornson shall not enter any place where intoxicants are
the principal/chief item for sale.
c. Bjornson shall not gamble or play any games of chance.
d. Bjornson shall provide the Office of Disciplinary Counsel
(ODC) with the names and full contact information of all
chemical dependency treatment providers and mental health
care providers he consults with, receives treatment from, or
sees, and provide monthly reports pertaining to his progress,
participation, and treatment that will include diagnosis and
prognosis for the ...