Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board v. MathahsAnnotate this Case
Mathahs has practiced law in Iowa since 2001. In October 2001, he contracted with the Iowa State Public Defender (SPD) to provide legal services to indigent adults and juveniles in certain Iowa counties. The contract was renewed until 2013. Mathahs submitted General Accounting Expenditure (GAX) forms to the SPD detailing the dates, services performed, and the amount of time for each service. In March 2013, the SPD contacted Mathahs with concerns over the accuracy of Mathahs’s GAX forms. Mathahs had claimed more than 3000 hours and had received more than $180,000 in fiscal year 2010. Mathahs initially blamed inaccuracies on his secretary. SPD rejected Mathahs’s explanation. On April 26, Mathahs self-reported his misconduct to the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board. On September 23, 2015, after investigating, the attorney general’s office informed the SPD that it found no provable evidence of intent to steal or defraud. In June 2017, the Board filed a complaint, alleging violations of Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct 32:1.5(a) (unreasonable fees or expenses) and 32:5.3(b) (lack of supervision over a nonlawyer employee). Mathahs moved to dismiss, claiming laches because the Board delayed for more than four years in bringing its complaint after he had self-reported and such delay unduly prejudiced his defense. A panel of the Supreme Court Grievance Commission found that Mathahs violated the rules. The Supreme Court of Iowa imposed a 60-day suspension, declining to address the issue of laches.