Swier's law practice suspension extended indefinitely by SD Supreme Court
An Avon-based attorney’s law practice suspension has been made indefinite after it was determined he was involved in a case, defying the South Dakota Supreme Court order that he stay away from legal proceedings.
Scott Swier, who owns the Swier Law Firm, has been suspended indefinitely for “practicing law while suspended and conducting himself as a legal assistant” without the Supreme Court’s approval. The Supreme Court originally suspended Swier for one year effective March 20.
The order, signed by Chief Justice David Gilbertson, declares that Swier should not conduct further business for the law firm, provide services to the firm or its clients and shall not enter the law firm’s offices until the court orders otherwise.
The order also requires the law firm’s letterhead and website should make clear that Swier is under indefinite suspension and has no legal connection currently with the Swier Law Firm.
In May, attorneys for the Pierre firm May, Adam, Gerdes and Thompson emailed two attorneys at Swier Law Firm inquiring about waiving findings of fact and conclusions of law involving a civil case with the Stanley County School District. On June 2, Swier responded by email to May, Adam, Gerdes and Thompson that the client had not given his law firm permission to waive those findings and conclusions. The next day, the email exchange was forwarded to the Disciplinary Board of the State Bar of South Dakota, noting Swier's official involvement.
As part of the ruling, the Disciplinary Board of the State Bar has been ordered to conduct a full investigation into Swier and the law firm to determine if he or members of the firm have committed additional violations of the court’s order of suspension. The Disciplinary Board is expected to furnish a full report of its findings. That board had originally recommended a public censure for Swier, but Gilbertson found that recommendation to be too lenient.
Swier was suspended in February for violating three professional conduct rules by taking cases in conflict with the interests of former clients and failing to properly ensure the attorneys he employed didn't also participate in misconduct. In that ruling, Gilbertson deemed Swier’s behavior and management of the law firm as being haphazard and negligent.
“Our review of the record left the Court with the impression that Swier ignored what he knew were conflicts, was too slow to take corrective measures, and showed no true remorse,” Gilbertson wrote in February.
Prior to this week’s order, Swier could have had his suspension reduced to six months if he paid back $144,000 owed to the estate and trust of a client he was disqualified from representing. Other conditions Swier needed to meet to be reinstated included passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination, completing a law office management course approved by the Supreme Court and reimbursing the Unified Judicial System and the State Bar.