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In re Hartford

Supreme Court of Montana

April 22, 2019

IN THE MATTER OF BRANDON C. HARTFORD An Attorney at Law, Respondent.

         Rules 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, LIS, 1.18, 8.1, MRPC, and 8a(6), MRLDE

          Jon G. Moog Deputy Disciplinary Counsel Office of Disciplinary Counsel

         Upon leave of the Commission on Practice granted on April 18, 2019, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the State of Montana ("ODC") hereby charges Brandon C. Hartford with professional misconduct as follows:

         General Allegations and Background

         1. Brandon C. Hartford ("Hartford") was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Montana in 2004, at which time he took the oath required for admission agreeing 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 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.

         3. In March 2018, Heather Byerly ("Heather") hired Hartford to assume her representation in a criminal proceeding (Yellowstone County District Court Cause DC 18-0092, Judge Michael Moses presiding). Heather paid Hartford $5, 000 which he deposited into his firm's operating account on February 26, 2018.

         4. Hartford did not provide Heather with a written communication setting forth the scope of his representation or the basis or rate of his fee and expenses.

         5. During the representation, Hartford failed to communicate with Heather concerning the status of her case.

         6. During the representation, Hartford failed to act diligently and promptly in reviewing discovery, meeting with the prosecutor, or preparing Heather for arraignment.

         7. Heather terminated Hartford's representation by letter dated June 14, 2018 and requested a refund of her $5, 000 payment. Hartford did not respond or refund any amount.

         8. Heather submitted an ethics grievance to ODC on or about September 5, 2018. Hartford provided ODC with a general denial of her allegations but has refused to specifically answer the grievance or provide requested documentation such as bank records and file materials as directed.

         Count One

          ODC realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 8 of the General Allegations as ...


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