South Dakota’s Supreme Court is punishing a well known attorney.
Thursday, the justices ruled that Scott Swier violated professional rules of conduct in two separate cases and will be suspended from practicing law for one year.
In the first case, Swier admitted to the State Bar Disciplinary Board a conflict of interest representing a woman, whose mother had died and left a will.
It was a conflict of interest due to the fact that her mother was a former Swier client. Swier then billed the woman’s estate $144,000 for legal fees.
The second case involved a Florida man, who hired Swier’s law firm to represent him against a real estate agent and the agent’s firm.
Swier had represented the real estate firm in the past and initially failed to tell his associate handling the case it was a conflict.
The associate suggested the client be refunded his retainer fee, but Swier insisted on keeping the $3,500.
In Thursday’s ruling, the State Supreme Court said Swier ignored what he knew were conflicts and was too slow to take corrective measures and showed no true remorse.
Chief Justice David Gilbertson wrote that Swier used his opportunity to promote himself and his law firm in what he characterized as an ‘informercial.’
Swier’s suspension will be reduced to six months if he pays back $144,000 to the client’s estate and trust.