Nanci R. Wisdom, a family and divorce lawyer from Salem, has been placed on indefinite suspension by the Supreme Court of Missouri.
The motion, Supreme Court Case No. SC96101, was filed Feb. 28 by the Missouri State Bar’s Chief Disciplinary Counsel and outlines the parts of the Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct the attorney allegedly violated.
According to the court’s statement, Wisdom engaged in misconduct by failing to promptly and diligently represent her clients, a violation of Rule 4-1.3 of the Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct, and by not adequately and effectively communicating with her clients on matters concerning their cases, a violation of Rule 4-1.4. In addition, Wisdom allegedly terminated her representation of clients inappropriately and, in doing so, violated Rule 4-1.16.
Rule 4-1.16 outlines the acceptable instances in which an attorney may terminate representation of a client. The allowable conditions for termination include times in which the lawyer’s mental and/or physical health impairs his or her ability to preform duties or the lawyer is discharged by the client.
The client’s conduct can also justify termination. Acceptable instances include the client requesting the attorney to provide criminal or illegal services, the client using the lawyer’s services to commit fraud, the client taking actions the lawyer finds to be “repugnant,” the client failing to fulfill an obligation to the lawyer and the client asking for services that would be a financial burden on the attorney. Wisdom’s termination met none of that criteria.
The Supreme Court sent a notice of the disciplinary proceedings to Wisdom, and she was given 30 days to file a response. After the 30-day period ended with no communication, a default response was entered. Wisdom again had 30 days to file against the default but failed to do so.
Following the ruling of suspension, Wisdom must comply with Rule 5.27 of the Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct. She is unable to accept any new retainers for services or act as a lawyer in any new cases. She will need to withdraw from any pending litigation and notify all current clients and necessary counselors of her status. The lawyer’s license will need to be submitted to the Supreme Court Clerk within 15 days of the ruling, and Wisdom will also need to return any unearned fees. Lastly, she must notify any opposing counsel in any pending matters of the ruling.
The court said Wisdom cannot apply to be reinstated for two years.
The Missouri Supreme Court is located in Jefferson City and was established in 1821 as the highest court in the state. It is presided over by seven justices: Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge and justices Laura Denvri Stith, Mary Rhodes Russell, Zei Fischer, George W. Draper III and Paul C. Wilson. The seventh seat is currently vacant following the death of Justice Richard Teiteiman. Missouri Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor and serve a 12-year term.