Hamilton attorney Robert Myers has been disbarred from the practice of law in the state of Montana. The Montana Supreme Court, in a set of three unanimous Orders of Discipline issued on December 28, 2017, accepted and adopted the recommendations for disciplinary action made by the Commission on Practice. Applied consecutively, the orders will prohibit Myers from petitioning for reinstatement for a period of eight years and seven months from the effective date of disbarment, January 27, 2018.
The Commission on Practice held public hearings on all three complaints on July 20, 2017.
Myers did not show up for the first hearing on a disciplinary complaint, filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel on April 22, 2016. Myers did seek, and the court granted, an extension of time to respond, but he did not file any objections within the extended time period allowed.
This complaint involved Myers’ handling of the post-trial motions and appeal of his client Dan Cox’s marital dissolution case. In this case Ravalli County District Court Judge Jeffrey Langton ordered, and the Supreme Court upheld, a $10,000 sanction against Myers. Based on evidence and testimony presented at the hearing, the Commission on Practice found that Myers had violated the Montana Rules for Professional Conduct “by making legal arguments without a sound basis in law or fact, by defaming and denigrating witnesses and other participants in the court proceedings, and by squandering his client’s appeal by failing to file an opening brief.”
The Commission on Practice found clear and convincing evidence that Myers violated his ethical duties to his client in this case and recommended that Myers be suspended from the practice of law in Montana for not less than seven months. In adopting the recommendation for discipline, the Supreme Court noted that the conduct under consideration in this case was unrelated to his judicial campaign against Langton for the District Court seat, but that the discipline imposed should run consecutively with the discipline being imposed on the two complaints filed against him over campaign practices. The Commission also recommended, and the Supreme Court agreed, that Myers be ordered to pay the cost of the proceedings.
Myers was also directed to give notice of his suspension to all clients he represents in any pending matters, any co-counsel in pending matters, all opposing counsel and self-represented opposing parties in pending matters, and all courts in which he appears as counsel of record in any pending matters.
The second complaint against Myers was filed on July 15, 2016. This complaint involved his conduct and statements made during his electoral campaign against Langton in 2016. The Commission on Practices found, based on the evidence and the testimony at the public hearing, that Myers placed an advertisement in which he had a former client make representations about the opposing candidate that Myers knew to be false or made with reckless disregard for the truth, and that Myers also provided a written statement to a local newspaper that included knowingly false and reckless statements about the same matter.
The Commission on Practices concluded, and the Montana Supreme Court agreed, that Myers had violated the Montana Rules of Professional Conduct “by making or causing to be made statements that he knew to be false or made with reckless disregard for the truth concerning the integrity of a judge, and by engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.” The Commission also found, and the Supreme Court agreed, that Myers violated numerous provisions of the Montana Code of Judicial Conduct which applies to judicial candidates.
The Montana Supreme Court noted in its order that the State has a “compelling interest in preserving public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary,” and the Court made clear that the knowingly false statement and the false statement made with reckless disregard for the truth do not enjoy constitutional protection as Myers had claimed.
The Court ordered, in this case, that Myers be suspended from the practice of law in Montana for a period of three years and pay the cost of the proceedings. Once again, the Court noted that the suspension should run “consecutively” with the penalties involved in the other two orders being issued against Myers.
The third complaint against Myers was filed by the ODC on January 13, 2017. In answer to this complaint the Commission on Practice found that the mailer and advertisements that Myers sent out in his campaign included knowingly false and reckless statements, “including unsubstantiated claims that his opponent had presided as the judge in a case against the ex-boyfriend of the opponent’s ‘cocaine and sex partner,’ and that his opponent had purchased illegal drugs from a 13 year-old child” that had a substantial likelihood of prejudicing pending legal proceedings.
Based on the evidence and the testimony at the hearing, the Commission on Practice found this in violation of both the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Code of Judicial Conduct and recommended that Myers be disbarred and pay the cost of the proceedings.