In the Matter of the Application for Disciplinary Action Against Cindy L. Turcotte, a member of the Bar of the State of North Dakota
Cindy L. Turcotte, 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 Cindy L. Turcotte be
suspended from the practice of law in North Dakota for six
months and one day 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] Turcotte was admitted to practice law in North Dakota on
September 28, 2015, and she is currently licensed to practice
law. She was previously licensed to practice in New Mexico.
3] A petition for discipline was served on Turcotte. On March
20, 2018, Disciplinary Counsel filed a motion for default.
Turcotte 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] Turcotte maintained a law practice in Williston and
practiced criminal law. Turcotte was a contractor
representing indigent clients though the North Dakota
Commission on Legal Counsel for Indigents. Turcotte's
representation of five clients are the basis of this
disciplinary matter. Turcotte failed to file a written plea
for one client which led to significant lengthening of his
incarceration before the matter was completed. She
misinformed the district court of the charges against a
second client and the bond amount for the third client. A
fourth client faced revocation of probation and Turcotte was
unprepared for the evidentiary hearing, which had to be
continued. Despite receiving discovery to the contrary,
Turcotte misinformed the court that the fourth client had no
criminal history. She also informed the court a bed was
available at a treatment facility for that client. When asked
for confirmation of the bed availability, she produced as
confirmation an email from an individual not affiliated with
the facility. Turcotte failed to appear at a bail hearing for
a fifth client and did not inform the court she would not
5] The hearing panel concluded Turcotte's conduct
violated N.D.R. Prof. Conduct 1.1, Competence, by failing to
represent one client with the legal knowledge, skill, and
thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary to
competently represent the client; N.D.R. Prof. Conduct 1.3,
Diligence, by failing to act with reasonable diligence and
promptness in representing her clients; and N.D.R. Prof.
Conduct 3.3, Candor Toward the Tribunal, by knowingly making
false statements of fact or law to the tribunal.
6] When considering an appropriate sanction, the hearing
panel considered the aggravating factors under by N.D. Stds.
Imposing Lawyer Sanctions 9.22 of a prior discipline history,
a pattern of misconduct, deceptive practices during the
disciplinary process, and substantial experience in the
practice of law. The hearing panel found Turcotte's
professional misconduct caused one client to remain
incarcerated longer than he should have been, and final
resolution of another client's criminal case was
unnecessarily delayed. The panel found Turcotte failed to
take remedial action in the two cases where she provided
inaccurate information to the district court. The hearing
panel also found "The instant conduct also parallels the
conduct for which Turcotte was previously sanctioned in New
7] The hearing panel concluded Turcotte's conduct falls
within the guidance provided by N.D. Stds. Imposing Lawyer
Sanctions 4.42, 4.53, and 6.13, and it recommended she be
suspended for six months and one day. It also recommended
Turcotte pay the costs and expenses of these disciplinary
proceedings in the amount of $250.
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 Cindy L. Turcotte is
suspended from the practice of law for six months and one
day, effective August 15, 2018.
11] IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that Turcotte must pay the costs
and expenses of these disciplinary proceedings in the amount
of $250 within 90 days of entry of the judgment, payable to
the Secretary of the Disciplinary Board, Judicial Wing, 1st
Floor, 600 East Boulevard Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58505-0530.
12] IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that Turcotte must comply with