Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board v. Heather Marie Kingery ( 2015 )

  •               IN THE SUPREME COURT OF IOWA
                                 No. 15–0673
                             Filed October 30, 2015
          Appeal from the report of the Grievance Commission of the
    Supreme Court of Iowa.
          An attorney contends the grievance commission’s recommended
    sanction for violations of disciplinary rules is excessive and features
    improper auxiliary conditions on reinstatement. LICENSE SUSPENDED.
          David L. Brown of Hansen, McClintock & Riley, Des Moines, for
          Charles L. Harrington and Elizabeth E. Quinlan, Des Moines, for
    HECHT, Justice.
          The Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board (the Board)
    charged attorney Heather Marie Kingery with violating multiple rules of
    professional conduct after the Board received four separate complaints.
    After a hearing, the Iowa Supreme Court Grievance Commission (the
    commission) found Kingery committed the alleged violations and
    recommended suspension of her license for six months and several
    conditions upon any future reinstatement. Kingery appeals, contending
    the sanction and conditions recommended by the commission are
    excessive. On our de novo review, we agree Kingery’s conduct merits a
    suspension, but impose a shorter one with fewer conditions.
          I. Background Facts.
          Kingery received a bipolar disorder diagnosis while she was in law
    school. Since then she has consistently taken prescribed medications to
    manage the disorder.    Kingery has also struggled with alcoholism and
    committed two misdemeanor criminal offenses involving alcohol, one in
    1994 and one in 2007.
          Kingery was admitted to practice law in Iowa in 2010 and initially
    practiced with a law firm in northeast Iowa.      After approximately one
    year with the firm, Kingery opened her own practice in Decorah.         A
    majority of Kingery’s cases in her solo practice were criminal defense
    matters, including court appointments in Winneshiek County and
    adjacent Howard County.        In addition to criminal cases, Kingery also
    handled a few civil matters.
          Kingery was married in September 2013.        Her husband lived in
    Europe and was not a United States citizen at the time of the marriage.
    The couple retained an immigration attorney to work toward securing his
    legal immigration to the United States. Kingery testified at the hearing
    before the commission in this case that the immigration issue caused her
    significant stress leading up to and immediately following the marriage.
    Kingery also testified the immigration issue has not been resolved in the
    two years since the marriage, and as a result, she and her husband
    communicate almost exclusively by telephone and through webcam
          While coping with the stress of the immigration issue and the
    bipolar disorder, Kingery drank alcohol heavily and frequently in October
    2013. Her life very quickly spun out of control, and by December her
    daily routine consisted only of buying alcohol, drinking alcohol, and
    sleeping. She did not open her mail, and she stopped responding to all
    communication from clients, opposing attorneys, court staff and judges,
    and the Board.
          In   January   2014,   Kingery     sought   medical   assistance   for
    detoxification. She received inpatient alcohol treatment in Waterloo and
    outpatient treatment in Decorah.       In August 2014, Kingery moved to
    West Des Moines so that she could be closer to a more robust support
    system and live in a bigger market for legal employment. She attends
    weekly support group meetings and has become an active church
    congregant there. She has also received helpful assistance from the Iowa
    Lawyers Assistance Program (ILAP). She has not consumed alcohol in
    over a year and has not practiced law since fall 2013.       She currently
    holds a part-time job in retail customer service, but she hopes to resume
    practicing criminal law in the near future as an assistant county
    attorney, a private criminal defense attorney, or a public defender.
          II. Events Giving Rise to the Board’s Complaint.
          A.   James Steenhard Matter.        Kingery was court appointed to
    represent James Steenhard in a criminal appeal. She filed a combined
    certificate and ordered a transcript, but she never filed a proof brief or a
    designation of appendix.     On July 30, 2013, the clerk of the Iowa
    Supreme Court entered a notice of default notifying Kingery she was
    obligated to file those documents within fifteen days. See Iowa R. App. P.
    6.1202(1)(a). Kingery did not respond to the notice or cure the default.
    Rather than dismissing the appeal, on September 24—almost two
    months after the default notice—this court removed Kingery as counsel,
    directed the district court to appoint new counsel, and referred Kingery
    to the Board.
          B. Christine Kelly Matter. Christine Kelly hired Kingery in 2011
    to represent her in enforcing provisions of Kelly’s marriage dissolution
    decree.   Kingery filed an application for rule to show cause on Kelly’s
    behalf.   The matter was delayed, however, when the court granted an
    indefinite continuance in July 2012.
          In early May 2013, Kingery met with Kelly to discuss and draft
    responses to discovery requests opposing counsel had served.            On
    May 20, Kelly requested a copy of the discovery responses and reciprocal
    discovery requests prepared for service on the opposing party. Kingery
    did not respond to Kelly’s request until May 29, but she apologized for
    the delay and assured Kelly her case was still a priority.
          On June 26, Kelly requested an update on the status of the
    discovery process.    Kingery did not respond, so Kelly sent another
    inquiry on July 8.     That same day Kingery informed Kelly she had
    prepared and mailed the discovery requests. However, after that she did
    not communicate with Kelly despite repeated emails and phone calls
    from Kelly. For example, on August 8, Kelly emailed Kingery noting that
    the time for her adversary’s discovery responses had passed and asking
    for copies of any discovery responses Kingery had received. Kingery did
    not respond. On August 16, Kelly sent Kingery an email requesting a
    case status update and expressly citing the rule setting forth Kingery’s
    obligation to keep Kelly informed about the status of the matter, but
    Kingery again did not respond. See Iowa R. Prof’l Conduct 32:1.4(a)(3).
           On September 3, Kelly sent Kingery a letter terminating the
    attorney–client relationship and requesting Kingery return all paperwork
    and case files. Kingery did not respond to the letter. Kelly sent an email
    requesting the case file on September 10.        Again, Kingery did not
    respond.    On September 20, Kelly sent Kingery an email proposing to
    meet at the Winneshiek County Courthouse to exchange payment and
    documents.    After Kingery did not respond to this email, Kelly filed a
    complaint with the Board.
           In February 2014, Kelly filed a small claims action against Kingery
    seeking the return of her file plus $1500 in damages. Kingery filed an
    answer and counterclaim seeking $800 in allegedly unpaid attorney fees
    and costs associated with copying Kelly’s file. After hearing the case, the
    court awarded damages to each party and, offsetting the amounts,
    ultimately awarded Kingery $38.40. Kelly paid the amount and received
    her file.
           C.   Court Appointed Criminal Defense Matters.         Kingery was
    court appointed to represent a number of criminal defendants in
    Winneshiek County.      On July 16, 2013, the district court granted
    continuances to three of Kingery’s clients—Lee Holkesvik, Karlie Marlow,
    and Scott Swehla—when they appeared for arraignment or other
    proceedings but Kingery did not.        Another client, Justin Borseth,
    requested new counsel after Kingery failed to appear as scheduled for a
    hearing on July 30. The court granted Borseth’s request.
           Kingery was also court appointed to represent Dante DeGrazia. In
    fall 2013, Kingery twice failed to appear for DeGrazia’s arraignment,
    although DeGrazia personally appeared both times.          On the second of
    these occasions, DeGrazia reported he had been unable to contact
    Kingery. On its own motion, the court removed Kingery from the case
    and appointed replacement counsel. That same day, it removed Kingery
    as counsel for Abbey Lowe in a separate criminal case for the same
    reason—Kingery had failed to appear in court as scheduled and had not
    communicated with the court or her client.
           On October 31, another of Kingery’s clients, James Thorne, filed a
    request for new counsel with the district court. Thorne’s request for new
    counsel stated Kingery “does not answer or return my phone calls” and
    also alleged she had missed a scheduled appointment with Thorne that
    day.   A magistrate granted Thorne’s request, removed Kingery from
    representing   Thorne,   and    appointed    replacement    counsel.     The
    magistrate found removal was “necessary to secure defendant’s rights.”
           Unfortunately, for two of Kingery’s clients—Scott Geary and Dylan
    Carlson—receiving    newly     appointed    counsel   was    not   the   only
    consequence of Kingery’s missed appearances and proceedings. In late
    July 2013, Kingery requested and received a continuance of proceedings
    in Geary’s case until August 6.      The order granting the continuance
    stated Geary was required to appear personally on August 6. Kingery
    and Geary both failed to appear on August 6. The court issued a warrant
    for Geary’s arrest, and he was arrested and jailed.         The court later
    released Geary on bond, in part because Geary wrote a letter from his jail
    cell asking for a new lawyer and explaining both he and the jail staff had
    tried unsuccessfully to reach Kingery.
          Similarly, Carlson sent a handwritten pleading from his jail cell to
    the district court after he was arrested for failing to appear. He asked
    the district court to consider contacting him personally to discuss
    payment options for court fees owed, and he explained he did not appear
    in court because Kingery did not respond to his phone calls inquiring
    about the scheduled time for hearing.        Kingery does not dispute that
    both Geary and Carlson served time in jail because she did not apprise
    them of the need to appear personally in court.
          Local prosecutors and judges noted Kingery’s absence from the
    courthouse as it stretched over several months.         By mid-December,
    Kingery had not retrieved any notices from the clerk’s office for over a
    month. The chief judge of the First Judicial District suspended Kingery
    from receiving any further court appointments and the Office of the State
    Public Defender terminated Kingery’s indigent defense contract.       The
    Winneshiek County Attorney sent a letter to the Board regarding
    Kingery’s serial failures to appear for hearings and court proceedings,
    believing he was ethically obligated to report the information. A district
    court judge within the First Judicial District also notified the Board of
    Kingery’s neglect of clients’ matters.
          D.   Brookview Farms Matter.           Doug Corson, the president of
    Brookview Farms LLC, hired Kingery in February 2013 to draft a
    conveyance granting to Corson and his two children a life estate in land
    the LLC owned. In an email to Kingery, Corson explained he wanted the
    deed “to be an iron-clad document that cannot be legally contested.”
    Kingery did not complete the work for several months, mentioning health
    issues had affected her productivity. Corson accepted the delay at first,
    but by August he was growing impatient.
            On September 5, Kingery apologized for her lack of contact and
    scheduled a meeting with Corson for the following day. At the meeting,
    Kingery presented the deed she had drafted and a bill for $347, and
    Corson paid her.     Corson was concerned the deed did not accurately
    describe the real estate and did not adequately convey a life estate, but
    Kingery assured Corson it did. Based on Kingery’s assurances, Corson
    signed the deed but instructed Kingery not to record it until he ensured
    Kingery had drafted it correctly. Accordingly, Kingery did not record the
    deed, although she did cash Corson’s check.
            Corson determined the deed’s legal description of the property was
    incomplete and therefore incorrect.      He asked Kingery to correct the
    errors and Kingery agreed to do so.           However, Kingery stopped
    responding to Corson’s communications. On January 8, 2014, Corson
    sent an email demanding a meeting with Kingery.           Kingery did not
    respond. On March 9, Corson sent an email terminating the attorney–
    client relationship. He also filed a complaint with the Board.
            III. Disciplinary Proceedings.
            In November 2013, the Board sent Kingery an inquiry about the
    Steenhard appeal and requested a response. After several weeks passed
    with no response, the Board filed a certificate on December 5 advising
    the court that Kingery had failed to respond and requesting a temporary
    suspension of Kingery’s license if she did not respond within twenty
    days. See Iowa Ct. R. 34.7(3). Kingery did not respond within twenty
    days.     Accordingly, on January 16, 2014, this court temporarily
    suspended Kingery’s license.     The Board repeated that process after
    sending inquiries to Kingery about her conduct in the Kelly and
    Brookview Farms matters, and in the several criminal cases mentioned
    above. Each time the Board sent inquiries, Kingery did not respond, and
    we issued a temporary suspension. 1
          Eventually, the Board filed a four-count complaint alleging Kingery
    violated numerous provisions of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct
    in her representation of Steenhard, Kelly, Brookview Farms, and the
    criminal defendants: neglect (rule 32:1.3); failure to keep a client
    informed about the status of their matter (rule 32:1.4(a)(3)); failure to
    comply    promptly    with     reasonable   requests    for   information   (rule
    32:1.4(a)(4)); charging an unreasonable amount for expenses (rule
    32:1.5(a)); failure to deliver property the client is entitled to receive (rule
    32:1.15(d)); failure to withdraw from representation when required (rule
    32:1.16(a)(2)); failure to expedite litigation (rule 32:3.2); knowingly
    making a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal (rule 32:3.3(a)(1));
    knowingly making a false statement of fact or law to a third person (rule
    32:4.1(a)); engaging in dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation
    (rule 32:8.4(c)); and engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration
    of justice (rule 32:8.4(d)).
          The Board later withdrew its allegations that Kingery violated rules
    32:3.3(a)(1) and 32:8.4(c) by making dishonest or false statements.             It
    also withdrew the allegation that Kingery failed to deliver property a
    client was entitled to receive, in violation of rule 32:1.15(d).             The
    withdrawals left eight alleged ethical violations for disposition. Kingery
    filed an answer admitting she committed rule violations in representing
    Steenhard, Brookview Farms, and the criminal defendants. She denied
    committing rule violations in representing Kelly.
          1We   lifted the multiple concurrent suspensions in April 2015 after Kingery
    retained counsel and answered the Board’s formal complaint. See Iowa Ct. R.
           The commission held a hearing on March 13, 2015.                       Kingery
    testified, explaining the circumstances of her bipolar disorder and
    alcoholism and describing the steps she has taken since 2013 to develop
    a support system and prevent relapse.               She expressed remorse and
    regret, and she took responsibility for “some horrible mistakes.” Kingery
    further noted her humbling experience the last few years has caused her
    to “see things differently now.”
           The commission concluded Kingery committed neglect by delaying
    the Brookview Farms matter, failed to keep Corson apprised of the status
    of the Brookview Farms matter, and both failed to expedite litigation and
    engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in the
    Steenhard appeal and the appointed criminal defense matters.                   It also
    concluded Kingery failed to comply promptly with a reasonable request
    for information from both Kelly and Corson. Most importantly, however,
    the commission found Kingery failed to withdraw from each of her cases
    when her alcoholism began materially impairing her ability to represent
    her clients. 2
           The commission found Kingery’s lack of disciplinary history,
    alcoholism, and bipolar disorder to be significant mitigating factors. It
    also commended her for taking full responsibility and expressing
    remorse.     The commission recommended an indefinite suspension of
    Kingery’s license for no less than six months with several conditions on
    any future reinstatement. In particular, the commission recommended
    Kingery be required to (1) offer documentation from medical providers
    showing her fitness to practice law at the time of reinstatement,
            2Although the Board’s complaint alleged Kingery violated rule 32:1.5(a) by
    attempting to charge Kelly an unreasonable amount for expenses and violated rule
    32:4.1(a) by making false statements to a third person, the Board presented no evidence
    as to those alleged violations, and the commission made no findings on them.
    (2) continue to undergo and comply with mental health and substance
    abuse treatment and counseling, (3) update the Board continually for
    one year with medical records proving compliance, (4) maintain sobriety,
    (5) associate with another licensed attorney and not practice on her own,
    and (6) cooperate with the ILAP.
          Kingery appeals contending the sanction recommended by the
    commission is unwarranted.      She contends a six-month suspension is
    excessive and asserts a public reprimand is a more appropriate sanction
    because her violations were all rooted in a single continuous episode of
    neglect. Further, she contends the attorney supervision requirement and
    the requirement that she provide medical documentation for one year
    after reinstatement are inappropriate under the circumstances.         The
    Board asserts a suspension is necessary because Kingery’s clients
    suffered harm and suggests the suspension should last at least three
    months.      However,   it   concedes   the   attorney   supervision   and
    postreinstatement documentation requirements recommended by the
    commission are inappropriate.
          IV. Scope of Review.
          We review appeals from the grievance commission de novo. Iowa
    Ct. R. 35.12(4).    The Board must prove each rule violation by a
    convincing preponderance of the evidence—a standard higher than in
    most civil cases but lower than the criminal burden of proof beyond a
    reasonable doubt.    See Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v.
    862 N.W.2d 354
    , 360 (Iowa 2015); Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y
    Disciplinary Bd. v. Wengert, 
    790 N.W.2d 94
    , 97–98 (Iowa 2010).
          V. Rule Violations.
          Kingery stipulated that she committed certain ethical violations in
    her representation of Steenhard, Brookview Farms (Corson), and the
    criminal defendants.     However, “[a]n attorney’s stipulation as to a
    violation is not binding on us.” Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v.
    855 N.W.2d 175
    , 181 (Iowa 2014); accord Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y
    Disciplinary Bd. v. Bartley, 
    860 N.W.2d 331
    , 335 (Iowa 2015); Iowa
    Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Gailey, 
    790 N.W.2d 801
    , 804 (Iowa
    2010) (“Nowhere in our rules have we given the parties the authority to
    determine what conduct constitutes a violation . . . .”). “If a stipulation
    concedes a rule violation, we will only find a violation if the facts are
    sufficient to support the stipulated violation.”   Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y
    Disciplinary Bd. v. Wright, 
    857 N.W.2d 510
    , 514 (Iowa 2014). Thus, we
    “address in turn each rule violation alleged by the Board in determining
    whether the Board carried its burden of proof.” Hedgecoth, 862 N.W.2d
    at 360.
          A.   Neglect.   “A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and
    promptness in representing a client.”     Iowa R. Prof’l Conduct 32:1.3.
    Although the word “neglect” does not appear in rule 32:1.3, cases
    sanctioning neglect under a predecessor to the rules are relevant to our
    analysis here. See Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Van Ginkel,
    809 N.W.2d 96
    , 102 (Iowa 2012).
          “Neglect involves an attorney’s consistent failure to perform his or
    her obligations . . . .” Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Conroy,
    845 N.W.2d 59
    , 63 (Iowa 2014). An attorney violates rule 32:1.3 when he
    or she “fails to appear at scheduled court proceedings, does not make the
    proper filings, or is slow to act on matters.”     Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y
    Disciplinary Bd. v. Nelson, 
    838 N.W.2d 528
    , 537 (Iowa 2013).            An
    attorney who ignores appellate deadlines, does not cure default notices,
    and fails to file required documents violates rule 32:1.3.       See, e.g.,
    Hedgecoth, 862 N.W.2d at 357–58, 361; Wengert, 790 N.W.2d at 101;
    Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Adams, 
    749 N.W.2d 666
    , 669
    (Iowa 2008). We have also concluded an attorney violated rule 32:1.3
    when he “failed to appear at a pretrial conference and a hearing.” Iowa
    Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. McCarthy, 
    814 N.W.2d 596
    , 606
    (Iowa 2012); see also Nelson, 838 N.W.2d at 537 (finding an attorney
    violated rule 32:1.3 when he “did not attend three pretrial hearings”);
    Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Hauser, 
    782 N.W.2d 147
    , 150,
    152 (Iowa 2010) (finding an attorney committed neglect when he failed to
    appear for his client’s civil trial); Adams, 749 N.W.2d at 669 (finding an
    attorney violated rule 32:1.3 when he failed to appear at his client’s
          In this case, Kingery engaged in the same type of neglectful
    conduct. In the Steenhard appeal, she did not file required documents
    on time and subsequently ignored a default notice. The clerk of court did
    not dismiss Steenhard’s appeal, but “only because this court intervened
    and ordered [Kingery] removed.” Conroy, 845 N.W.2d at 65. Although
    she missed deadlines in just one appeal, the missed deadlines were part
    of a larger “pattern of rule violations” affecting multiple clients.   Iowa
    Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Eslick, 
    859 N.W.2d 198
    , 203 (Iowa
    2015); cf. Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Boles, 
    808 N.W.2d 431
    , 442 (Iowa 2012) (noting an attorney’s ethical shortcomings “were
    not isolated” and caused “extensive problems” with multiple clients).
    This pattern is patently clear because Kingery repeatedly failed to appear
    for court proceedings in her court-appointed criminal cases, affecting at
    least eight clients. We find Kingery violated rule 32:1.3.
          B. Attorney–Client Communication. “A lawyer shall . . . keep
    the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter.” Iowa R.
    Prof’l Conduct 32:1.4(a)(3).   Further, a lawyer must “promptly comply
    with   reasonable   requests   for   information.”    Id.   r.   32:1.4(a)(4).
    Compliance with requests for information includes responding to or at
    least acknowledging a client’s attempts to communicate.          Id. cmt. [4].
    These two rules are interrelated because “regular communication with
    clients will minimize the occasions on which a client will need to request
    information concerning the representation.” Id.
           “[W]hen an attorney neglects to keep a client informed about the
    status of the case or does not respond to a client’s attempts to contact
    the attorney about the case,” the attorney violates rule 32:1.4. Nelson,
    838 N.W.2d at 537. In Nelson, we concluded an attorney violated this
    rule when he “neither initiated nor returned client phone calls, despite
    requests by clients that he do so.” Id. We have also found an attorney
    violated both subsection (a)(3) and subsection (a)(4) when she “did not
    attempt to inform her client about the status of the client’s case . . . and
    failed to respond to the client’s multiple phone calls and visits.” Iowa
    Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Ryan, 
    863 N.W.2d 20
    , 26 (Iowa
    2015); see also McCarthy, 814 N.W.2d at 606 (finding a violation when
    the attorney’s “failure to answer his telephone and respond to telephone
    and e-mail messages” caused “[n]early all of [his] clients” to have
    difficulty contacting him); Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v.
    812 N.W.2d 541
    , 547 (Iowa 2012) (finding a violation when
    an attorney did not inform a client the court had ordered sanctions and
    did not respond to the client’s attempts to contact him); Iowa Supreme
    Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Johnson, 
    792 N.W.2d 674
    , 678 (Iowa 2010)
    (concluding the attorney’s “failure to respond to [the client]’s phone calls
    and requests for information” constituted a violation of rule 32:1.4).
           Here, we find Kingery failed to update Kelly about the status of
    discovery in her dissolution matter in response to the client’s multiple
    inquiries requesting information.         Similarly, Corson sent Kingery
    multiple inquiries about his real estate matter before receiving a
    response.    In both the Kelly and Corson matters, Kingery eventually
    stopped responding to emails and phone calls altogether. Finally, in the
    several criminal defense matters discussed above, multiple clients
    reported to the court that they had been unable to contact Kingery and
    that she would not answer or return their calls. We find Kingery violated
    rule 32:1.4(a)(3) and (4) in each of these instances.
          C. Unreasonable Expenses. “A lawyer may seek reimbursement
    for the cost of services performed in-house, such as copying . . . .” Iowa
    R. Prof’l Conduct 32:1.5 cmt. [1]. However, the amount the lawyer seeks
    must be reasonable. See id. r. 32:1.5(a) (“A lawyer shall not make an
    agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable
    amount for expenses . . . .”).     If it is not, the attorney is subject to
    discipline. See Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Baldwin, 
    857 N.W.2d 195
    , 215 (Iowa 2014) (noting an attorney had previously been
    admonished for “charging his client an excessive fee to copy his file”).
          When Kelly sued Kingery in small claims court to obtain her file,
    Kingery counterclaimed for damages that included allegedly unpaid
    hourly fees and $500 for costs to reproduce the file.          The Board’s
    complaint alleged Kingery violated rule 32:1.5(a) by counterclaiming for
    $500 to copy Kelly’s file.    However, the Board’s trial brief before the
    commission did not mention rule 32:1.5(a) at all, and the Board
    presented no evidence regarding that alleged violation.       Thus, on our
    de novo review, we find the Board has failed to prove by a convincing
    preponderance of the evidence that Kingery violated rule 32:1.5(a).
          D.    Mandatory Withdrawal.         Lawyers are required to withdraw
    from representing a client if “the lawyer’s physical or mental condition
    materially impairs the lawyer’s ability to represent the client.” Iowa R.
    Prof’l    Conduct   32:1.16(a)(2).   To    find   a   violation,   a convincing
    preponderance of the evidence must show (1) the attorney was suffering
    from a physical or mental condition, (2) the condition materially impaired
    the attorney’s ability to represent clients, and (3) the attorney failed to
    withdraw. See Cunningham, 812 N.W.2d at 549.
             “There is very little case law interpreting this rule or its
    predecessor” to guide our determination of what constitutes a violation.
    Id. at 548.       In Cunningham, we found the Board had not proven a
    violation because the only evidence of the lawyer’s physical or mental
    condition was a motion another attorney made that referred to general
    “health reasons.” See id. at 548–49. Similarly, in McCarthy, we found an
    attorney who suffered a heart attack and underwent open-heart surgery
    did not violate the rule because there was no indication the delay in legal
    proceedings attributable to his physical condition caused the client any
    material disadvantage. McCarthy, 814 N.W.2d at 608–09. On the other
    hand, we have found an attorney violated this rule when he neglected
    multiple appeals—causing them to be dismissed for lack of prosecution—
    while undergoing and recovering from three serious, but nonemergency,
    back surgeries. See Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Hoglan,
    781 N.W.2d 279
    , 283–84 (Iowa 2010) (per curiam).
             Our professional conduct rule requiring withdrawal in certain
    circumstances is materially identical to rules in place in Kansas and
    Maryland. Compare Iowa R. Prof’l Conduct 32:1.16(a)(2), with Kan. R.
    Prof’l Conduct 1.16(a)(2), and Md. Lawyers’ R. Prof’l Conduct 1.16(a)(2).
    The      Kansas   Supreme   Court    concluded    an    attorney with    severe
    depression violated the rule when he did not withdraw from representing
    multiple clients after having suicidal thoughts and taking medical leave
    from his practice.   In re Murrow, 
    336 P.3d 859
    , 861, 866, 869 (Kan.
    2014) (per curiam).     Similarly, Maryland’s highest court adopted a
    disciplinary hearing judge’s finding that an attorney violated the rule
    when he was so dependent on narcotics and tranquilizers that he
    “regularly did not show up in court when he was scheduled to appear on
    behalf of clients” and “ignored communications from judges as well as
    clients.”   See Att’y Grievance Comm’n v. Patton, 
    69 A.3d 11
    , 20 (Md.
    2013).      Several other courts have concluded an attorney battling
    substance abuse or mental health issues can violate similar rules if they
    do not withdraw when their physical or mental condition materially
    impairs their ability to represent clients.   See, e.g., In re Kelly, 
    917 N.E.2d 658
    , 658–59 (Ind. 2009) (depression and substance abuse);
    Disciplinary Counsel v. Wickerham, 
    970 N.E.2d 932
    , 934–35 (Ohio 2012)
    (per curiam) (prescription drug addiction); In re Roberts, 
    725 S.E.2d 925
    925–26 (S.C. 2012) (per curiam) (depression and alcoholism); In re
    Disciplinary Proceedings Against Cotten, 
    650 N.W.2d 551
    , 555–57 (Wis.
    2002) (per curiam) (depression).
          Unlike Cunningham, here we have clear evidence—including
    medical records—tending to show Kingery suffers from bipolar disorder
    and alcoholism.      See Cunningham, 812 N.W.2d at 548–49.          Thus,
    because we have undisputed evidence of Kingery’s health status and we
    know she did not withdraw from her cases during an extended period of
    professional dysfunction, we must decide whether rule 32:1.16(a)(2)
    required her to withdraw.    The framework set forth in McCarthy and
    Hoglan instructs that, regardless whether the attorney’s physical or
    mental condition was within his or her control, we should evaluate what
    actually happened in determining if Kingery’s ability to represent her
    clients was materially impaired. See McCarthy, 814 N.W.2d at 608–09;
    Hoglan, 781 N.W.2d at 283–84.             Kingery’s own description of her
    dysfunction, the resulting delays in court proceedings, and the total
    absence of contact with clients over an extended period leads us to find
    by a convincing preponderance of the evidence that it was. See Patton,
    69 A.3d at 20. Thus, we conclude Kingery violated rule 32:1.16(a)(2).
          E. Failing to Expedite Litigation. “Dilatory practices bring the
    administration of justice into disrepute.” Iowa R. Prof’l Conduct 32:3.2
    cmt. [1].      Accordingly, the rules of professional conduct discourage
    dilatory practices and require lawyers to “make reasonable efforts to
    expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client.”        Id. r.
          “An attorney violates this rule by failing to appear for status
    conferences and respond to court inquiries.”        Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y
    Disciplinary Bd. v. Kieffer-Garrison, 
    847 N.W.2d 489
    , 492 (Iowa 2014).
    We have also found a violation when an attorney “failed to follow court
    rules governing timely presentation and progression of appeals.”
    Hedgecoth, 862 N.W.2d at 362. In this case, Kingery repeatedly failed to
    appear      for   status   conferences,   arraignments,    and   other   court
    proceedings, causing multiple delays and continuances. Similarly, she
    did not file required appellate documents and caused the clerk to issue a
    default notice in the Steenhard matter.       We conclude Kingery violated
    rule 32:3.2.
          F. Duty to Avoid Making False Statements. Our ethical rules
    prohibit lawyers from knowingly making “a false statement of material
    fact or law to a third person.”      Iowa R. Prof’l Conduct 32:4.1(a).    The
    Board charged Kingery with violating this rule.           However, the Board
    presented no evidence to the commission supporting the charge, and the
    Board’s appellate brief does not mention it. Further, the Board withdrew
    both of the other claimed rule violations based upon allegedly false
    statements. We find no violation of rule 32:4.1(a) on this record.
          G. Conduct Prejudicial to the Administration of Justice. Rule
    32:8.4(d) prohibits “conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of
    justice.”   Id. r. 32:8.4(d).    “[T]here is no typical form of conduct” that
    violates this rule.   Iowa Supreme Ct. Bd. of Prof’l Ethics & Conduct v.
    588 N.W.2d 121
    , 123 (Iowa 1999).            Instead, the dispositive
    inquiry is whether “the attorney’s act[s] hampered the efficient and
    proper operation of the courts or of ancillary systems upon which the
    courts rely.” Id.
          We have concluded an attorney hampered the courts’ efficiency
    when he neglected multiple matters, causing delayed proceedings and
    “requir[ing] otherwise unnecessary administrative oversight by the clerk
    of court and judicial officers.” Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v.
    786 N.W.2d 860
    , 867 (Iowa 2010); see also Iowa Supreme Ct.
    Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Rhinehart, 
    827 N.W.2d 169
    , 180 (Iowa 2013)
    (“[A]n attorney . . . violates rule 32:8.4(d) when his [or her] misconduct
    results in additional court proceedings or causes court proceedings to be
    delayed or dismissed.”).        Similarly, an attorney hampers proper court
    operations by “[i]gnoring deadlines and orders, which results in default
    notices from the clerk of court.” Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd.
    v. Knopf, 
    793 N.W.2d 525
    , 530 (Iowa 2011); see also Hedgecoth, 862
    N.W.2d at 363.      We think it evident that repeated delays and missed
    appearances     impede     court    efficiency   because   the   delays   cause
    protraction in even the simplest of legal matters. Accordingly, because
    the evidence establishes by a convincing preponderance that Kingery’s
    neglect of her criminal matters caused numerous delays in the judicial
    process, we conclude she violated rule 32:8.4(d).
          VI. Sanction.
          We now turn to the principal source of the parties’ disagreement in
    this case: the appropriate sanction.       Kingery asserts she deserves no
    more than a public reprimand due to mitigating factors, while the Board
    contends a suspension is necessary.
          A.   General Principles.      When we review attorney disciplinary
    matters, the commission’s recommended sanction does not bind us,
    although we give it respectful consideration.       Baldwin, 857 N.W.2d at
    213; see Iowa Ct. R. 35.11(1). To arrive at an appropriate sanction,
          we consider the nature of the violations, the need for
          deterrence, the need to protect the public, the need to
          preserve the legal profession’s reputation, and the lawyer’s
          fitness to practice law. We also consider mitigating and
          aggravating circumstances, including companion violations,
          repeated neglect, and the attorney’s disciplinary history.
    Conroy, 845 N.W.2d at 66 (citation omitted). “When determining what
    sanctions to impose, we consider those imposed in similar cases while
    remaining aware of the different circumstances in each case.”          Iowa
    Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Said, 
    869 N.W.2d 185
    , 193 (Iowa
    2015); see also Eslick, 859 N.W.2d at 202 (“[W]e evaluate each case
    individually but still consider prior cases instructive.”).
          B.   Aggravating and Mitigating Circumstances.          The record in
    this case reveals aggravating circumstances affecting our determination
    of the appropriate sanction.
          Because of Kingery’s failure to communicate with her criminal
    defense clients or appear for scheduled proceedings in those cases, the
    court issued arrest warrants for some of the clients and at least two of
    them spent time in jail for failure to appear.         Arrests and jail time
    certainly constitute harm, and harm to clients is an aggravating factor
    warranting more severe discipline. Nelson, 838 N.W.2d at 544 (“[A]t least
    four clients . . . were arrested as a direct result of [the attorney’s
    misconduct].”); see also Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Clarity,
    838 N.W.2d 648
    , 662 (Iowa 2013) (noting the attorney’s neglect caused
    three clients to be jailed); Adams, 749 N.W.2d at 669–70 (noting the
    attorney’s conduct “resulted in the arrest and incarceration of the
    client”); cf. Hedgecoth, 862 N.W.2d at 364–66 (noting the attorney’s
    neglect “did not cause any demonstrable financial or other harm” and
    considering lack of harm a mitigating factor (emphasis added)).
            Additionally, the sheer number of clients affected by Kingery’s
    conduct—more than a dozen—is an aggravating factor.            See Kieffer-
    Garrison, 847 N.W.2d at 496 (concluding when an attorney neglected
    nine matters, the evidence showed “serial acts of misconduct, rather
    than an isolated misadventure”); Conroy, 845 N.W.2d at 67 (selecting a
    more severe sanction in part because the attorney neglected seven
            However, we also consider several mitigating circumstances in this
    case.     For example, although Kingery ignored the Board’s initial
    inquiries, she answered the formal complaint, testified at the hearing,
    and admitted the violations. See Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd.
    v. Humphrey, 
    812 N.W.2d 659
    , 669 (Iowa 2012); see also Hedgecoth, 862
    N.W.2d at 366.      The Board credited Kingery’s testimony, finding her
    genuinely remorseful.     We do as well, and we consider her sincere
    acceptance of responsibility as a mitigating factor.      See Eslick, 859
    N.W.2d at 202 (“[R]emorse and cooperation generally mitigate our
    sanction.”); In re Glenn, 
    256 Iowa 1233
    , 1242, 
    130 N.W.2d 672
    , 678
    (1964) (“Repentance is ordinarily a commendable if not a necessary
    attribute for one who expects leniency.”).
          Additionally, until today, Kingery had an unblemished disciplinary
    record.   See Bartley, 860 N.W.2d at 339 (considering lack of prior
    discipline a mitigating factor); Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v.
    824 N.W.2d 514
    , 527 (Iowa 2012) (same). She received a private
    reprimand in May 2014 for conduct unrelated to neglect, but “[p]rivate
    reprimands are not discipline.” Van Ginkel, 809 N.W.2d at 110; accord
    Said, 869 N.W.2d at 194. When we have considered prior reprimands to
    be aggravating factors, they were either public reprimands, see Eslick,
    859 N.W.2d at 202, or private reprimands for related conduct, see Said,
    869 N.W.2d at 194.
          However, the most significant mitigating factor is Kingery’s
    alcoholism and her robust rehabilitative efforts to control or eliminate it.
    See Nelson, 838 N.W.2d at 542. Alcoholism does not justify or excuse
    ethical misconduct, but it can be a mitigating factor in determining the
    proper sanction. See Clarity, 838 N.W.2d at 660–61; Iowa Supreme Ct.
    Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Weaver, 
    812 N.W.2d 4
    , 15 (Iowa 2012). “To be
    considered in mitigation, the alcoholism must have contributed to the
    ethical misconduct, and the lawyer must undertake rehabilitative efforts
    to control his [or her] addiction.”      Clarity, 838 N.W.2d at 661; see
    Hauser, 782 N.W.2d at 154 (“To the extent [the attorney] acknowledges
    his alcoholism and has taken steps to address it . . . , we consider these
    acts in fashioning an appropriate sanction.”).
          We conclude the facts of this case satisfy the framework set forth
    in Clarity.   See Clarity, 838 N.W.2d at 661.        Kingery’s alcoholism
    contributed to her ethical misconduct, but she has since undertaken
    necessary and prudent rehabilitative efforts.     Kingery’s detoxification,
    outpatient treatment, and subsequent efforts to cultivate a support
    system and abstain from alcohol are important and commendable. See
    id. (“Clarity has repeatedly undergone weeks of inpatient treatment and
    ongoing outpatient treatment to cope with his alcoholism . . . .                     We
    consider his efforts to be a mitigating factor.”); Nelson, 838 N.W.2d at
    542 (crediting an attorney’s abstention from alcohol and his testimony
    that he would not drink again because he feared “losing everything”);
    Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Axt, 
    791 N.W.2d 98
    , 103 (Iowa
    2010) (acknowledging the attorney’s “rehabilitative efforts in actively
    attempting to control his addiction to alcohol”); Iowa Supreme Ct. Bd. of
    Prof’l Ethics & Conduct v. Ruth (Ruth I), 
    636 N.W.2d 86
    , 89 (Iowa 2001)
    (“In mitigation of sanctions in this case, we consider that [the attorney]
    has made great strides in his battle with alcoholism.”).                 We therefore
    consider Kingery’s alcoholism and her rehabilitative efforts mitigating
    factors. 3
           C.     Cases Involving Similar Conduct.                   Kingery’s principal
    violation was her lack of diligence.              “Discipline for these types of
    violations ‘generally ranges from a public reprimand to a six-month
    suspension.’ ” Hedgecoth, 862 N.W.2d at 365 (quoting Iowa Supreme Ct.
    Bd. of Prof’l Ethics & Conduct v. Hohenadel, 
    634 N.W.2d 652
    , 655 (Iowa
    2001)); see also Conroy, 845 N.W.2d at 66. “A lengthy suspension may
    be appropriate if the neglect is one violation among many much more
    serious ones or occurs amidst aggravating circumstances.” Hedgecoth,
    862 N.W.2d at 365.
            3We note, however, that the timing of Kingery’s neglect somewhat weakens the
    mitigating power of her addiction to alcohol. Kingery testified the depths of the alcohol
    addiction began in October 2013 and continued until January 2014, and many
    instances of delays or missed appearances occurred in those months. Yet several
    others occurred well before that. For example, Geary was arrested and jailed in August
    2013, months before Kingery testified alcohol started to consume her life and even
    before Kingery’s September wedding. Thus, we consider alcoholism a mitigating factor
    for some, but not all, of Kingery’s violations.
          Although the typical sanction for neglect ranges from a public
    reprimand to a six-month suspension, we have infrequently imposed
    sanctions at the lowest boundary of that range. We generally consider a
    public reprimand appropriate only when the case involves a single
    instance of misconduct.     See Van Ginkel, 809 N.W.2d at 110; Iowa
    Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Dolezal, 
    796 N.W.2d 910
    , 922 (Iowa
    2011); Hoglan, 781 N.W.2d at 286. For example, in Dolezal, we noted a
    public reprimand was not appropriate because the attorney’s behavior
    affected multiple clients and harmed one. Dolezal, 796 N.W.2d at 922.
    Accordingly, we imposed a suspension.        Id. at 922–23.   Similarly, in
    Hoglan, we acknowledged the lawyer’s health problems in mitigation but
    suspended his license because he neglected four matters and his neglect
    harmed all four clients. Hoglan, 781 N.W.2d at 286–87.
          After considering the circumstances of this case, including the
    mitigating factors discussed above, we agree with the Board that
    Kingery’s conduct merits a suspension. See Clarity, 838 N.W.2d at 662
    (“[The attorney]’s neglect resulted in the dismissal with prejudice of [an]
    appeal and the jailing of three . . . clients. We have imposed suspension
    of one to six months when the attorney’s neglect caused harm to
    clients.”); see also Iowa Supreme Ct. Bd. of Prof’l Ethics & Conduct v. Ruth
    (Ruth II), 
    656 N.W.2d 93
    , 99 (Iowa 2002) (“Although we commend Ruth
    for [his] progress [in overcoming alcoholism], his efforts toward
    rehabilitation do not eliminate the need for a sanction . . . .”). We have
    imposed public reprimands for neglect when the misconduct has affected
    few clients and caused no client harm. See, e.g., Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y
    Disciplinary Bd. v. Tompkins, 
    733 N.W.2d 661
    , 669–70 (Iowa 2007)
    (reprimanding an attorney who neglected two matters because “little
    prejudice was caused to either [client]”); Iowa Supreme Ct. Bd. of Prof’l
    Ethics & Conduct v. Mears, 
    569 N.W.2d 132
    , 134–35 (Iowa 1997)
    (reprimanding an attorney who neglected two matters because the
    attorney’s neglect “did not . . . result in ultimate harm to a client”); Iowa
    Supreme Ct. Bd. of Prof’l Ethics & Conduct v. Sather, 
    534 N.W.2d 428
    431 (Iowa 1995) (reprimanding an attorney for neglecting one matter
    after considering mitigating circumstances, “including that no party ha[d]
    been prejudiced by [the attorney]’s conduct”). Kingery’s neglect affected
    numerous clients and clearly caused harm to some.           Accordingly, we
    conclude her conduct merits a suspension.
          We now turn to the length of the required suspension.               In
    Van Ginkel, we imposed a sixty-day suspension for neglect because while
    the attorney caused no client harm, he engaged in other serious
    misconduct including “[a] knowing misrepresentation to the court” and
    an “effort to shift the blame to an assistant.” Van Ginkel, 809 N.W.2d at
    110–11.   Here, Kingery caused some client harm but did not commit
    other serious misconduct and has accepted full responsibility for her
    inaction. Therefore, we find Van Ginkel to be a useful comparator.
          In two other neglect cases, we have imposed a suspension of three
    months when the neglect affected multiple clients’ matters. For example,
    in Hedgecoth, the attorney’s explanation for his neglect was not a
    mitigating factor, but his neglect was relatively limited in scope and
    caused no demonstrable harm to clients. Hedgecoth, 862 N.W.2d at 357,
    366. Similarly, in a 1989 case, we imposed a three-month suspension
    when an attorney struggling with alcoholism “virtually abandoned his
    law practice” and utterly disregarded all communication “from the clerk,
    court and [ethics] committee,” but soon sought detoxification and
    “devoted himself to rebuilding his life personally and professionally.”
    Comm. on Prof’l Ethics & Conduct v. Haney, 
    435 N.W.2d 742
    , 743–44
    (Iowa 1989).
          Although Haney and Hedgecoth contain several similarities to
    Kingery’s case, we conclude a sixty-day suspension is appropriate here.
    Most significantly, we credit Kingery’s treatment efforts, her genuine
    remorse, and the fact she did not commit more troubling companion
    violations along with her neglect. Additionally, we acknowledge Kingery
    voluntarily ceased practicing law—even after we lifted her temporary
    suspension—while she pursued treatment and rehabilitation.                “The
    voluntary cessation of the practice of law is not considered a credit
    against any suspension subsequently imposed.” Ruth I, 636 N.W.2d at
    89; accord Nelson, 838 N.W.2d at 544. A period of voluntary cessation
    from practice does not justify a pro tanto credit against a suspension
    imposed because “[a]bsence[s] due to rehabilitation and disciplinary
    sanctions serve overlapping, but distinct, purposes.”         In re Dean, 
    855 N.W.2d 186
    , 193 (Iowa 2014).           However, we can consider voluntary
    cessation when evaluating whether our sanction will serve its purposes
    of deterring future misconduct and protecting the public. Cf. Hedgecoth,
    862 N.W.2d at 367 (accepting an attorney’s voluntary commitment not to
    undertake appellate cases in lieu of an express practice limitation); Dean,
    855 N.W.2d at 194 (“[A]bsence for the purpose of rehabilitation . . . may
    be considered a mitigating factor in determining the length and adequacy
    of a disciplinary suspension.”). After considering all the circumstances of
    this case, we conclude a sixty-day suspension is appropriate for
    Kingery’s violations.
          D. Conditions           of   Reinstatement.          The      commission
    recommended several conditions on Kingery’s reinstatement.             Because
    the   court    lacks    the    infrastructure   for   supervising   conditional
    reinstatement regimes, we impose some but not all of the conditions on
    reinstatement recommended by the commission.
          First,   we   conclude   Kingery   must,   as   a   condition   of   any
    reinstatement, provide the Board with documentation showing her
    compliance with treatment providers’ recommendations and her fitness
    to practice law.    See, e.g., Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v.
    827 N.W.2d 711
    , 720 (Iowa 2013) (“We . . . condition Roush’s
    reinstatement—per the commission’s recommendation—on his seeking,
    and complying with, mental health and substance abuse evaluations.”);
    Weaver, 812 N.W.2d at 16 (requiring an attorney to provide medical
    documentation showing he had maintained sobriety); Comm. on Prof’l
    Ethics & Conduct v. Jackson, 
    429 N.W.2d 122
    , 123 (Iowa 1988) (“Any
    request for reinstatement shall be accompanied by proof that respondent
    has his alcoholism under control.”).
          At the hearing before the commission, Kingery stated she was
    “agreeable” to reimbursing Corson “to make things right.” In disciplinary
    matters, “[w]illingness to reimburse a client . . . is a proper
    consideration” in deciding the appropriate sanction, including any
    conditions on reinstatement. Comm. on Prof’l Ethics & Conduct v. Martin,
    375 N.W.2d 235
    , 238–39 (Iowa 1985).              Accordingly, as a further
    condition of reinstatement, Kingery must reimburse Corson $347 and
    provide proof to the Board that she has done so. She must satisfy both
    conditions no later than fifteen days before any reinstatement. See Iowa
    Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Parrish, 
    801 N.W.2d 580
    , 590 (Iowa
    2011) (requiring a disciplined attorney to provide proof he had
    reimbursed clients prior to reinstatement); Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y
    Disciplinary Bd. v. Conroy, 
    795 N.W.2d 502
    , 507 (Iowa 2011) (requiring a
    health care professional’s evaluation no later than forty days after a
    sixty-day suspension began); Iowa Supreme Ct. Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v.
    759 N.W.2d 328
    , 333 (Iowa 2009) (requiring a health care
    professional’s evaluation no later than fifteen days after a thirty-day
    suspension began).
          Additionally, we urge Kingery to continue her relationship with the
    ILAP during the suspension and beyond in furtherance of her continuing
    rehabilitation. Cf. Dean, 855 N.W.2d at 194 (commending a disciplined
    judicial officer for her compliance with an ILAP monitoring agreement but
    not regarding it as a formal sanction).
          VII. Conclusion.
          We suspend Kingery’s license to practice law in this state
    indefinitely with no possibility of reinstatement for sixty days from the
    date this opinion is filed.   The suspension applies to “all facets of the
    ordinary law practice.” Iowa Ct. R. 35.13(3). Unless the Board files an
    objection, Kingery will be automatically reinstated after the suspension
    period on condition that she has paid all costs, see id. rs. 35.13(2), .27,
    and has met the other “reasonable conditions for reinstatement,” see id.
    r. 35.13(1), imposed in this opinion. We tax the costs of this action to
    Kingery. Id. r. 35.27(1).