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In re Rose-Miller

Supreme Court of Montana

November 6, 2019

IN THE MATTER OF TARA M. ROSE-MILLER, An Attorney at Law, Respondent.

         ODC File Nos. 18-065, 18-086, 18-165 and 18-167

          Shaun R. Thompson Interim Chief Disciplinary Counsel P.O. Box 1099 Office of Disciplinary Counsel

          COMPLAINT

         Upon leave of the Commission on Practice, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the State of Montana ("ODC") hereby charges Tara M. Rose-Miller with professional misconduct as follows:

         General Allegations

         1. Tara M. Rose-Miller, hereinafter referred to as Respondent, was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Montana in 2012, at which time she took the oath required for admission, wherein she 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.

         3. At all times pertinent hereto, Respondent was and is a solo practitioner with an office located in Sidney, Montana. She established her solo practice, Rose Miller Law, P.C., in or around September 2016.

         Count One (ODC File No. 18-086)

         4. ODC realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 3 of the General Allegations as if fully restated in this Count One.

         5. On December 21, 2016, the State Bar of Montana's Lawyer's Fund for Client Protection Board received an Insufficient Funds Notification from Stockman's Bank regarding Respondent's IOLTA trust account.

         6. On December 7, 2016, Respondent issued her client, Angel Lindgren ("Lindgren"), a retainer refund check from her IOLTA account for unearned fees in the amount of $521.00. When Lindgren negotiated the check on or about December 21, 2016, Respondent's IOLTA did not have sufficient funds to cover the amount.

         7. Respondent deposited funds from Rose Miller Law, P.C., business account into the IOLTA trust account to cover the check and bring the account to a positive balance on December 22, 2016.

         8. By depositing funds from Rose Miller Law, P.C. business account into the IOLTA trust account, Respondent co-mingled funds in violation of Rules 1.15, and 1.18, MRPC.

         9. Respondent's use of unearned funds in the IOLTA trust account that belonged to Lindgren constitutes misappropriation and mishandling of funds in violation of Rules 1.15, 1.18, and 8.4(c), MRPC.

         Count Two (ODC File No. 18-086)

         10. ODC realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 3 of the General Allegations as if fully restated in this Count Two.

         11. From September 2016 through July 2018, Respondent paid herself or her firm nearly $142, 000 but had only earned approximately $107, 800. Respondent took and misappropriated nearly $34, 200 from the IOLTA trust account she had not yet earned and used it for her own purposes.

         12. Respondent's withdrawal of approximately $34, 200 not belonging to her from the IOLTA trust account to her business and/or personal accounts and using it for her own purposes constitutes misappropriation and mishandling of funds in violation of Rules 1.15, 1.18, and 8.4(c), MRPC.

         13. From November 2016 through July 2018, Respondent deposited funds from her personal account or business account totaling approximately $31, 000, either by check or transfer, into the IOLTA trust account to replace the misappropriated funds.

         14. In violation of Rules 1.15 and 1.18, MRPC, Respondent failed to hold property belonging to her clients separate from her own property.

         Count Three (ODC File No. 18-086)

         15. ODC realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 3 of the General Allegations, as if fully restated in this Count Three.

         16. Beginning as early as June 2018, Respondent discontinued depositing any and all client retainers into the IOLTA trust account and began depositing all client retainers into Rose ...


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