By Michael Howell
Robert Myers, local attorney and candidate for Ravalli County District Court Judge for District 21, has been charged with professional misconduct. The state Commission on Practice granted leave to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel to file the charges on April 13 and Deputy Disciplinary Counsel Jon Moog filed the charges with the Montana Supreme Court on April 22, 2016.
Myers’ opponent in the election, sitting Judge Jeffrey Langton, sanctioned Myers in June of 2014 and fined him $10,000. The 42-page sanction order was issued in a domestic relations case (In re: the Marriage of Sara Cox v. Daniel Cox, Ravalli County District Court Cause No. DR-10-35) and resulted from Myers’ post-hearing representation of Daniel Cox both before the District Court and the Montana Supreme Court (Case No. DA-12-0774). Daniel Cox appeared pro se at the dispositive hearing on September 10 and 13, 2012, and then retained Myers to pursue an appeal or other post-judgment remedies in December 2012.
On June 25, 2013, the Montana Supreme Court dismissed Daniel Cox’s appeal for failure to file an opening brief.
Myers tried to get Langton disqualified from the case but the Montana Supreme Court denied the motion. Several days later Myers subpoenaed Langton to have him deposed in connection with a Rule 60 Motion. Langton denied the motion and quashed the subpoena and ordered Myers to appear and show cause on April 9, 2014 as to why his conduct has not violated court rules.
“Judge Langton preliminarily found in his order that none of [Myers’] factual contentions appeared to have even a minimum quantum of evidentiary support,” wrote Moog in his complaint. He notes that Langton also found that Myers’ legal contentions were not warranted by existing law or non-frivolous argument for modifying existing law, with the majority of contentions not even supported by developed argument.
After the show cause hearing, Langton determined in his sanction order that much of Myers’ testimony was not credible.
Langton also found:
• that Myers had failed to adequately review the record in the case, and had failed to make any inquiry to determine whether his factual contentions in his Rule 60 Motion and supporting briefs had even a minimum of evidentiary support;
• that Myers’ intransigence in maintaining his assertion of factual contentions in the absence of evidentiary support and, in some instances, despite evidence in the record to the contrary, was highly troubling;
• that Myers had squandered Daniel Cox’s right of direct appeal by failing to timely file an opening brief;
• that Myers had squandered Daniel’s right of review on claims of surprise and fraud by his failure to timely file the Rule 60 Motion.
• that because Myers failed to research the majority of his legal contentions, they were not supported by developed argument or legal authority, and in the rare instances when he attempted to develop argument, it was largely incomprehensible;
• that Myers failed to make good faith legal arguments for the majority of his asserted legal contentions;
• that Myers used highly inflammatory language to make baseless accusations of conspiracy, fraud, bias, unethical behavior, and illegal acts against numerous people, including Judge Langton himself;
• that Myers’ conduct in using such highly inflammatory language far exceeded the exercise of mere hyperbole or excited overstatement;
• that Myers’ Rule 60 Motion filings were presented for the improper purpose of harassing the adverse party, her attorneys, her witnesses, and the Court and its staff, which caused unnecessary delay and needlessly increased the cost of litigation and the expenditure of judicial resources;
• that Myers had done more than just play fast and loose with the facts as he created extraordinary facts out of whole cloth for which he might later find evidentiary support;
• that Myers had no compunction about making legal contentions he could not support with legal authorities or developed argument;
• that Myers had asserted baseless factual contentions impugning the District Court’s integrity with reckless disregard for their truth or falsity;
• that Myers’ baseless assertions against adverse counsel had called into question their ethics and may have damaged their professional reputations.
Langton fined Myers $10,000 as part of his sanction, an order which was upheld by the Montana Supreme Court. The sanction fine was paid in July 2015.
Moog stated in his complaint that, “by his conduct outlined above and as sanctioned by Judge Langton,” Myers violated Rule 3.l(a), MRPC and Rule 8.2(a), MRPC, “which violation raises a substantial question regarding Respondent’s honesty and fitness to practice law.”
Moog also alleges a second count that “by his conduct in issuing a subpoena to Judge Langton while he was the presiding judge in the litigation, [Myers] violated Rule 3.5(c), MRPC, as such conduct was intended to disrupt a tribunal.”
In a third count, Moog alleges that in representing Daniel Cox, Myers failed to act competently in representing his interests before the District Court and the Montana Supreme Court and by his conduct violated Rule 1.1, MRPC. Moog also alleges in count 4 that Myers’ conduct violated Rule 8.4(d), MRPC, as such conduct was prejudicial to the administration of justice.
Moog requests that a citation be issued to Myers along with the complaint and that he be required to respond with a written answer within twenty days. He asks that a formal hearing be had on the allegations before an Adjudicatory Panel of the Commission and that the Panel make a report of its findings and recommendations after a formal hearing to the Montana Supreme Court, and, in the event the Adjudicatory Panel finds the facts warrant disciplinary action and recommends discipline, that the Commission also recommend the nature and extent of appropriate disciplinary action.
Bitterroot Star readers may recall that Myers is the attorney representing former Ravalli County Treasurer Valerie Stamey and her husband Richard in their $8 million libel suit against the Bitterroot Star.