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Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board v. Kadenge

12/2/2005

Grievance Commission reports that respondent has committed ethical misconduct and recommends suspension of respondent's license to practice law. LICENSE SUSPENDED.


An attorney comes before us because of his neglect of his clients' matters and his problems with alcohol. The Iowa Supreme Court Board of Professional Ethics and Conduct filed a complaint against the respondent, Nyaradzai M. Kadenge, alleging he had violated several provisions of the Iowa Code of Professional Responsibility by neglecting legal matters entrusted to him, by mishandling his trust account, by making misrepresentations, by being intoxicated in court, and by failing to respond to inquiries from the Board. The Grievance Commission found the Board proved the alleged violations and recommended we suspend Kadenge's license to practice law for six months.


We find the Board proved the ethical violations. Based on the seriousness and number of violations we believe an eighteen-month suspension is warranted.


I. Facts and Prior Proceedings


Nyaradzai M. Kadenge graduated from the University of Iowa Law School in 1993 and spent several years clerking for both the federal and state courts. He spent two years in the public defender's office, and started practicing on his own in Waterloo in late 1997 or 1998. Within the next few years, Kadenge bought an interest in two bars. He soon began to show signs of alcohol abuse. At times he would spend long periods of time out of the office, neglecting his clients and pending cases. His alcohol problems came to the forefront on July 11, 2003 when he appeared for a sentencing matter before Associate District Court Judge Nathan Callahan in an intoxicated state. Kadenge was charged with public intoxication and pled guilty to the charge.


This matter came before the Grievance Commission upon a complaint filed by Iowa Supreme Court Board of Professional Ethics and Conduct ("Board") in May of 2004. The complaint alleged ethical violations in five areas: Kadenge repeatedly mishandled his trust account, neglected his responsibilities to his clients, failed to respond to the Board's complaints, made misrepresentations, and was arrested and convicted for public intoxication when he appeared in court for a client's sentencing hearing.


In June of 2005, the Grievance Commission held a hearing regarding Kadenge's conduct. Kadenge testified candidly about his struggle with alcoholism and depression, but still cast blame for many of his violations on his support staff, the attorney with whom he shared an office, and his clients.


The Grievance Commission found Kadenge had repeatedly violated the Iowa Code of Professional Responsibility for Lawyers. The Commission recommended we order Kadenge pay a former client, Ismet Sadikovic, the balance of a judgment rendered against him in the amount of $2000. It also recommended we order Kadenge refund Deborah Sallis's retainer of $1000. See Iowa Ct. R. 35.9 ("the commission may recommend additional . . . sanctions such as restitution"). Finally, it recommended we suspend his license to practice law for six months.


II. Standard of Review


We review attorney disciplinary proceedings de novo. Iowa Supreme Ct. Bd. of Prof'l Ethics & Conduct v. Ruth, 656 N.W.2d 93, 97 (Iowa 2002); Iowa Ct. R. 35.10(1). We give respectful consideration to the Commission's findings and recommendations, but are not bound by them. See Iowa Supreme Ct. Bd. of Prof'l Ethics & Conduct v. Bell, 650 N.W.2d 648, 650 (Iowa 2002) (revoking license even though Commission recommended five-year suspension).


The Board must prove attorney misconduct by a convincing preponderance of the evi

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