The Montana Supreme Court has suspended for at least seven months a Billings-based attorney who failed to file an appeal for a client in a civil rights case.
David S. Freedman, whose Freedman and Assoc. Law Group is located in Billings, will also have to pay the cost of the disciplinary proceedings against him. He is required to notify current clients, opposing counsel and co-counsel about his suspension.
The suspension will last a minimum of seven months, effective Nov. 30. Freedman can petition for reinstatement.
Freedman failed to file an appeal to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as requested by his client, Brian John Temple. Temple had sued the city of Helena, St. Peters Hospital in Helena, and a Helena police officer after the officer shot Temple during an encounter as Temple fled from the local probation office in 2011, according to the lawsuit.
The U.S. District Court for Montana ruled against Temple in October 2016. Temple told Freedman he wanted to appeal, but the attorney failed to file a notice of appeal by the deadline.
Temple filed his own pro se request for an extension, but Freedman failed to appear at a hearing to consider the motion. U.S. District Court Judge Sam Haddon then held Freedman in contempt of court, according to the Montana Supreme Court’s suspension order for Freedman.
Freedman had attempted to remove himself as Temple's attorney in February 2016, but the judge denied the motion because it did not comply with the federal court's rules.
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The Commission on Practice found that Freedman exhibited lack of competence, lack of diligence and failure to recognize the scope of his representation in working for Temple.
In 2017, Freedman was publicly censured by the Montana Supreme Court. In that instance, he admitted to violating certain Montana Rules of Professional Conduct while representing a pedestrian seeking damages after being struck by a driver in Miles City in 2011. The violations included failing to act with reasonable promptness and failing to keep a client informed of the opposing party’s actions.
There is another complaint pending against Freedman, filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in August. In that complaint, Freedman is accused of failing to negotiate an insurance settlement for a client injured in a car wreck. He also failed to turn over the case documents after being fired, failed to return the client’s phone calls, and failed to respond to the disciplinary counsel’s inquiries about the client’s complaints.
After more than two years using Freedman as her attorney, the client fired him in September 2017.
Freedman did not immediately respond to a voicemail and email seeking comment.
In October of 2015, Freedman won $200,000 from the Montana Cash jackpot, according to The Associated Press.