The continuing saga of Portland injury attorney Mike Shinn is a sad one to behold. Here is a report from The Oregonian that the Oregon Supreme Court suspended Shinn this week for violating the court’s order. The court apparently ordered that Shinn not take money from his trust account while his disciplinary case is pending.
This is only the latest chapter on a story that’s been going for a while. Prior background here. I can’t help but have a heavy heart. The guy was a warrior who did all manner of great work for injured Oregonians.
Regardless of his great works, it looks like he’s crossed lines that should not be crossed. Let me be clear about what I mean. Assuming that the news report is accurate, he violated a court’s order and took money from his trust account that he was told not to take.
The first is bad because whether we agree with an order or not, Oregon lawyers are officers of the court who are bound by rules. Those rules include following court orders. If we disagree with an order, we seek review or otherwise appeal. Ignoring or disobeying a court order is a pretty serious matter that must have consequences.
Worse than that, the order focused on money in a client trust account. That’s client money, and an Oregon lawyer can only take it if the lawyer is legally entitled to do so. When you’re not entitled to take money, doing so is a form of theft or conversion.
If he took client money, Mike has to go. No exception, no debate.
I have zero inside information about this, but I imagine that Mike Shinn is fighting with some major demons. Even so, Oregonians have to trust that our legal system has integrity. That trust requires that the Oregon State Bar and Oregon Supreme Court take necessary steps to protect the public.