A Billings lawyer disciplined in 2007 for having sex with a client has been accused of committing the same ethical offense.
A complaint filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel on Jan. 12 alleges that Solomon Neuhardt violated the rules of conduct for lawyers by having a sexual relationship with a client in 2008 and 2009.
Neuhardt denies the allegations in the recent complaint.
Neuhardt's license to practice law in Montana was suspended for four months in October 2007 after he was found to have had a sexual relationship with a client in 2005.
The Montana Rules of Professional Conduct, the ethical guidelines for lawyers enforced by the Montana Supreme Court, prohibit lawyers from having a sexual relationship with a client “unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them when the client-lawyer relationship commenced.”
According to the recent complaint, Neuhardt was hired by a woman on Nov. 17, 2008, to represent her in a potential criminal case. Two months later, Neuhardt agreed to represent the woman in her divorce case, the complaint states.
Neuhardt withdrew as the woman's attorney a few months later. The complaint alleges that Neuhardt and the woman had sexual relations while he was her attorney.
The complaint also states Neuhardt and the woman did not have a consensual sexual relationship before she hired him to represent her.
Neuhardt, a lawyer in Billings since 2001 who specializes in criminal defense and personal injury cases, denied the allegation in a statement to The Gazette. He said he has a “legion of satisfied current and former customers.”
“I am shocked and appalled by the complaint,” he said. “There isn't a shred of evidence to support it. I will fight it until it is dismissed.”
According to the complaint, Neuhardt has 20 days after receiving it to file a written response. A formal hearing will then be scheduled before a panel of the Commission on Practice, a branch of the Montana Supreme Court that reviews such complaints and makes recommendations about possible disciplinary measures.
Neuhardt admitted to the ethical violation in the previous complaint. In a statement at that time, Neuhardt said that “life is a series of adjustments,” and he called the discipline a “blessing in disguise.”