Farmington attorney disciplined by Supreme Court board
FARMINGTON — A Farmington attorney has been disciplined by a New Mexico Supreme Court board for issues that include general incompetence while handling two cases.
The New Mexico Supreme Court Disciplinary Board issued an order on Jan. 2 that placed Eric Morrow on probation for a year for general neglect, general incompetence, failure to communicate and a conflict of interest resulting in actions adverse to a client's interests.
The court suspended Morrow for a year but deferred the sentence if he meets certain conditions, including completing six hours of continuing legal education and is supervised by a New Mexico attorney, according to court documents.
A disciplinary panel filed its decision and recommendations on Dec. 13.
Morrow works at the Law Offices of Morrow and Pettus in Farmington alongside Shannon Pettus. He often represents clients charged with criminal offenses.
Pettus is being sued for legal malpractice by a former client who claims Pettus did not adequately pursue a lawsuit on her behalf. Pettus was formally reprimanded by the New Mexico Supreme Board Disciplinary Board on March 16 over the same case that resulted in the malpractice lawsuit.
Morrow said the disciplinary case was a compromise, and he claims the relative of a client in a case where he did some pro bono work used a small change to a trust to attack him.
He claimed he had made no legal error.
The court documents state there were two cases reviewed by the disciplinary panel.
The first case regarded a new will a client was seeking for her mother. Morrow made an amendment to a trust for the client's mother that removed the client's brother as a trustee but not as a beneficiary, according to court documents.
Morrow filed the court documents in district court on Oct. 10, 2014, and his client was appointed to administer her mother's estate.
The brother's counsel later filed court documents to contest the move, stating he was improperly removed as a beneficiary and claiming Morrow's client allegedly was not competent at the time of the execution of the will.
The court appointed the brother as co-personal representative.
Morrow was removed from the case by the court following a motion by the brother's attorney. The motion states Morrow was a witness in his client's alleged incompetence.
The second case cited in the court documents involves a divorce case. Morrow was retained in November 2012 to represent a client who reportedly wanted to obtain back child support.
Morrow informed his client she would have go through the Child Support Enforcement Division of the New Mexico Human Services Department after the divorce was final. But when the client visited CSED, she was informed her attorney was responsible for obtaining back child support.
Morrow also agreed to the opposing counsel's request that no past-due child support be awarded.
Morrow told the disciplinary counsel he did not pursue back child support because there was no request for it.
The disciplinary council stated in court documents Morrow should have pursued interim and back child support.
Morrow claimed his client agreed to one thing in court then changed her mind.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.