In the Matter of the Application for Disciplinary Action Against Marla Louise Bruhn, a Member of the Bar of the State of North Dakota
Marla Louise Bruhn, Respondent Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of the State of North Dakota, Petitioner
1] The Court has before it the findings of fact, conclusions
of law, and recommendations of a hearing panel of the
Disciplinary Board recommending Marla Louise Bruhn be
suspended from the practice of law in North Dakota for 60
days with a one-year probation following her suspension, she
work with the Lawyer Assistance Program, she complete six
hours of continuing legal education classes focused on
diligence and client communication, and she pay the costs of
the disciplinary proceeding for violations of the North
Dakota Rules of Professional Conduct. We accept the hearing
panel's findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
2] Bruhn was admitted to practice law in North Dakota on
February 13, 2015, and she is currently licensed to practice
law. She is also licensed to practice in Florida.
3] A petition for discipline was served on Bruhn. On March 8,
2018, Disciplinary Counsel filed a motion for default. Bruhn
failed to answer the petition, and she is in default. The
charges in the petition for discipline are deemed admitted
under N.D.R. Lawyer Discipl. 3.1(E)(2).
4] Bruhn maintained a law practice in Dickinson with John D.
Bruhn. The Bruhns would frequently appear on behalf of each
other without informing the client or obtaining the
client's consent. The Bruhns were also often co-counsel
representing clients. Related to these disciplinary matters,
Bruhn represented 7 clients in criminal matters and 1 client
in a juvenile matter.
5] Bruhn failed to adequately communicate with her clients
and provided some with inaccurate information. She failed to
notify clients of hearings, failed to appear for hearings,
and failed to adequately prepare. She made false statements
to the district court. She or John Bruhn were late for
6] The hearing panel concluded Bruhn's conduct violated
N.D.R. Prof. Conduct 1.1, Competence, by failing to represent
her clients with the legal knowledge, skill, and thoroughness
and preparation reasonably necessary to competently represent
the client; N.D.R. Prof. Conduct 1.2(a); Scope of
Representation and Allocation of Authority Between Client and
Lawyer, by failing to abide by her client's decisions
concerning the objectives of representation and as required
by Rule 1.4, consult with the client about the means by which
they are to be pursued, by taking action beyond any implied
authorization that she may have had, and by failing to abide
by a client's decision regarding pleas or whether to
proceed to trial; N.D.R. Prof. Conduct 1.3, Diligence, by
failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in
representing her clients; N.D.R. Prof. Conduct 1.4,
Communication, by failing to promptly inform the client of
any decision or circumstance with respect to which the
client's consent is required, by failing to reasonably
consult with the client about the means by which the
client's objectives are to be accomplished, by failing to
make reasonable efforts to keep the client reasonably
informed about the status of a matter, by failing to promptly
comply with the client's reasonable requests for
information, and by failing to explain matters to the extent
reasonably necessary to permit clients to make informed
decisions regarding their representation; and N.D.R. Prof.
Conduct 3.3, Candor Toward the Tribunal, by knowingly making
false statements of fact or law to the tribunal.
7] When considering an appropriate sanction, the hearing
panel considered the aggravating factors under by N.D. Stds.
Imposing Lawyer Sanctions 9.22 of a pattern of misconduct and
multiple offenses. The hearing panel concluded Bruhn's
conduct falls within the guidance provided by N.D. Stds.
Imposing Lawyer Sanctions 4.42, 4.53, 4.63, and 6.12. Due to
the aggravating factors, the hearing panel concluded 60
day-suspension followed by a one-year probation is an
appropriate sanction. It also recommended Bruhn pay the costs
and expenses of these disciplinary proceedings in the amount
8] This matter was referred to the Supreme Court under N.D.R.
Lawyer Discipl. 3.1(F). Objections to the hearing panel's
findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendations were
due within 20 days of the service of the report of the
hearing panel. No objections were received. We considered the
9] ORDERED, that the findings and recommendation for
discipline are accepted.
10] IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that Marla Louise Bruhn is
suspended from the practice of law for 60 days with one-year
of probation following her suspension, effective August 15,
11] IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that Bruhn work with the Lawyer
Assistance Program on law office management.
12] IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that Bruhn complete six hours of
continuing legal education classes focused on the issues ...