Iowa Supreme Court hears appeal for reduced license suspension of Iowa City school board member

Commission ruled McGinness had falsified documents, lied to court about it

Published: January 22 2014 | 11:22 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:29 am in
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An Iowa City attorney and school board member sought to appeal a law license suspension before the Iowa Supreme Court Wednesday.

The Iowa Supreme Court Grievance Commission recommended Jeff McGinness should be fined following evidence of professional misconduct.

Cedar Rapids attorney Gregory Lederer, who represented McGinness, didn't deny McGinness had lied but argued his law license suspension should be reduced citing McGinness' character, work in public service and positive professional record outside of the incident.

“He made a terrible decision but that does not mean he’s without character, that he cannot function as a valuable member of this profession and provide services, quality services, in an ethical manner to clients in the state of Iowa,” Ledrer said.

McGinness faces a six-month suspension of his law license after the Grievance Commission found he had falsified documents in a 2012 civil case and repeatedly lied about it to an opposing attorney and judge.  He later admitted to the violations.

Teresa Vens, who represented the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board, argued honesty is pivotal in the legal profession and McGinness committed a series of lies over the course of two months in 2012 despite opportunities to confess.

"This is not just about Mr. McGinness being sorry for his actions but it's about you speaking to all Iowa attorneys and to the public about the importance of honesty in our profession," she said.

Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins said he was concerned McGinness carried the lie for so long.

“Do we want someone practicing law in this state that would go to this extreme to protect the lie?” he said.

Lederer said there was no doubt McGinness had made a career-changing decision but argued the court give McGinness a chance to salvage his career and reduce the suspension to “anything less than six months".

The court did not issue a ruling on the matter Wednesday but will announce its decision sometime before their session concludes June 30.

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