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In re Bryan

Supreme Court of Montana

June 18, 2019

IN THE MATTER OF: MATTHEW A. BRYAN, An Attorney at Law, Respondent.

          ORDER

         On January 14, 2019, a formal disciplinary complaint was filed against Montana attorney Matthew A. Bryan. This complaint may be reviewed by any interested person in the office of the Clerk of this Court.

         Bryan did not respond to the complaint. On February 12, 2019, the Commission on Practice (COP) entered default and deemed the complaint's allegations to be admitted pursuant to Rule 12(C)(2) of the Montana Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement (MRLDE).

         On April 18, 2019, the COP held a hearing to determine the appropriate form of discipline to recommend to this Court. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) presented argument. Bryan did not appear.

         On May 3, 2019, the COP submitted to this Court its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation for Discipline. Bryan did not respond in the time allowed by MRLDE 16, and this matter is now ripe for consideration.

         Bryan was admitted to the practice of law in Montana in 2018, and in Georgia in 2007. This Complaint arose from actions Bryan took, or failed to take, regarding the Andy H. Swain Revocable Trust, which was prepared by Bryan and executed in July 2011 for Andy H. Swain, a resident of Georgia. The Trust named Bryan as successor Trustee and named Swain's grandchildren as beneficiaries.

         Swain died in 2013. After his death, one of his grandchildren attempted to contact Bryan regarding the Trust. She fruitlessly searched for Bryan until July 2016, when she located him and requested a disbursement. By that time, Biyan had left his previous law firm and had left the State of Georgia. Over the next two years, Bryan offered various excuses as to why funds from the Trust were not readily available, and why he could not immediately review and discuss the Trust.

         On April 25, 2018, Georgia administratively suspended Bryan from the practice of law. In October 2018, the ODC mailed a copy of the grievance from Swain's grandchild to the address for Bryan on file with the Montana State Bar, along with a request for response. Bryan did not respond, and the ODC was unable to reach Bryan through other means. Bryan has also failed to respond to inquiries from the Georgia State Bar.

         Additionally, the ODC investigation determined that Bryan's website falsely claimed that he was expanding his practice into Wyoming when Bryan was neither admitted to practice, nor had applied for admission to practice, law in Wyoming.

         Based on the findings deemed admitted by Bryan's failure to respond, the COP concluded that Bryan violated M. R. Pro. Cond. 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.15(b), 1.16(a)(2), 7.1(a), 8.1(b), [1] and 8.4(c), and Rule 8(A)(6), MRLDE. The COP recommended Bryan be disbarred, stating, "Bryan's defalcations and failures in this matter are numerous, egregious, prolonged and reflect extreme dishonesty and breaches of duty."

         This Court reviews de novo the COP's findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendations. In re Neuhardt, 2014 MT 88, ¶ 16, 374 Mont. 379, 321 P.3d 833 (citation omitted).

         We have thoroughly reviewed the record in this matter. Relying on the admitted findings, we agree with the COP's conclusions of law and recommendations.

         Based upon the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:

         1. The COP's Findings of Fact. Conclusions of Law and Recommendation for Discipline are ACCEPTED and ADOPTED.

         2. Matthew A. Bryan is hereby disbarred from the practice of law in Montana effective thirty days from the date of this Order. Bryan is directed to give notice of his disbarment to all clients he represents in pending matters, any co-counsel in pending matters, all opposing counsel and self-represented opposing parties in pending matters, and ...


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