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In re Cyrus

Supreme Court of Alaska

November 5, 2010

In the Disciplinary Matter Involving Eugene B. CYRUS, Respondent.

Louise R. Driscoll, Assistant Bar Counsel, Stephen J. Van Goor, Bar Counsel, Anchorage, for Alaska Bar Association.

Eugene B. Cyrus, pro se, Chugiak.

Before: CARPENETI, Chief Justice, FABE, WINFREE, CHRISTEN, and STOWERS, Justices.

Page 891

OPINION

WINFREE, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

Eugene B. Cyrus, an attorney presently on interim suspension, challenges sanctions recommended by the Disciplinary Board of the Alaska Bar Association. The recommended sanctions include: (1) suspending Cyrus from the practice of law for five years, with two of those years stayed; and (2) following the three years of served suspension, three years of probation with attendant conditions, including that Cyrus practice law solely as an employee of an agency or firm. Cyrus agrees that a suspension followed by a probationary period is an appropriate sanction, limiting his argument to a request that an additional year of the suspension be stayed so that he may practice in pro bono matters under the supervision of a law firm or agency.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

On April 3, 2006, we suspended Cyrus from the practice of law for six months, effective May 3, 2006, and publicly censured him for professional misconduct based on five complaints similar to those underlying this case.[1] We reinstated Cyrus's license to practice law on March 23, 2007.[2] This case arose from six complaints the Bar received from six state district court judges regarding problems each experienced in dealing with Cyrus in court proceedings between March and December of 2008. Bar Counsel opened the six complaints for investigation and sent separate letters notifying Cyrus of his duty to respond. Cyrus did not respond to any of these letters. Pursuant to Alaska Bar Rules 15(a)(4) and 22(a), Cyrus's failures to respond were grounds for discipline and served as admissions to the allegations contained in the complaints.

In December 2008 the Bar requested that we place Cyrus on interim suspension pursuant to Bar Rule 26(e) pending resolution of the complaints. On January 28, 2009, we placed Cyrus on interim suspension, but stayed that order with respect to a trial that Cyrus was then concluding.[3] On February 3, 2009, we modified that order to allow Cyrus to close or transfer open files, making the interim suspension effective March 5, 2009.[4]

On February 19, 2009, the Bar initiated a petition for a formal hearing on the complaints against Cyrus, alleging that Cyrus had violated the Alaska Rules of Professional Conduct and Alaska Bar Rules relating to: (1) competent representation of clients; [5] (2) failure to act with " reasonable diligence and promptness" in his representation of clients; [6] (3) failure to communicate with clients; [7] (4) failure to make " reasonable efforts to expedite litigation" consistent with the interests of his clients; [8] and (5) failure to answer disciplinary charges.[9] On March 12, 2009, Cyrus responded to the petition.

During an April 2009 pre-hearing conference before the Area Hearing Committee selected to hear the matter, Cyrus admitted to almost all of the misconduct alleged in the petition and waived the liability phase of proceedings. [10] The Committee convened a sanctions hearing in June 2009. During this hearing Cyrus admitted that the allegations of the complaints were accurate, his actions " jeopardized [the] interest[s]" of his clients, and he could not realistically run his own practice. Cyrus suggested that he be allowed to practice under the supervision of a firm or agency capable of managing his caseload,

Page 892

explaining that " a probationary period, with the right terms, that would have an office manager, is probably the ... the right way to go ... so I can use ...


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