Iowa Supreme Court v. Marzen
- Alleged Jesse M. Marzen committed numerous violations of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct by engaging in:
- A sexual relationship with a client
- Disclosing client confidences to the public
- Making a misrepresentation to a judge
- The grievance commission found there was insufficient evidence of an ethical violation on the charges of a sexual relationship with a client and a misrepresentation to a judge
- It was found that Marzen violated the rules of professional conduct and will have an indefinite suspension not to exceed six months
General Background Facts and Proceedings:
- Jesse M. Marzen is an Iowa lawyer
- Graduated from St. Thomas School of Law
- Practiced law in Charles City and is currently the Floyd County Attorney
- September 2006- a complaint filed by a woman named “Jane Doe”
- She alleged Marzen engaged in a sexual relationship with her after representing her in a mental health commitment hearing
- Soon after, a district court judge also filed a complaint against Marzen after hearing testimony from Doe
- Marzen was a candidate for the position of Floyd County Attorney at the time the complaints were filed. The news of the allegations spread throughout the community and was highly publicized by local media. Marzen was still elected as Floyd County Attorney even after the allegations.
- At the hearing on the complaint, Doe testified she had sexual intercourse with Marzen on numerous occasions while he represented her. Marzen quickly denied any intimate contact with Doe.
- One member of the commission dissented from the dismissal of the sexual misconduct. The dissenting member believed the events established at least one occasion of sexual intercourse between Doe and Marzen during the course of their attorney-client relationship.
- The board filed an application to appeal Count 1. Marzen only cross-appealed as to Count III.
- Doe’s testimony revealed interesting information that would lead people to believe sexual intercourse did take place between her and Marzen.
- She commented that Marzen had “funny”-appearing buttocks due to a loose fold of skin hanging from the lower portion of his buttocks.
- Doe testified she engaged in sexual intercourse with Marzen on four additional occasion’s, all in different locations.
- One of the witnesses, Amanda, had stopped by a home unannounced when she observed Doe and Marzen walking out of a bedroom. She claimed that Doe hastily offered a reason for her presence in the bedroom with Marzen.
- Marzen denied the existence of any sexual relationship at any time with Doe. He testified Doe was never at his house. However, he acknowledged he had been at the house where Doe was staying on multiple occasions, but only for business purposes.
- Marzen claimed he had more than 10 moles on his back, which Doe failed to mention
- Marzen denied the presence of a flap of loose skin on the bottom portion of his buttocks. He did, however, acknowledge he weighed 325 pounds when he graduated from high school and lost between 125 and 150 pounds since that time
- He also acknowledged he has loose skin around his waist and inside his arms.
- In addition to his testimony, Marzen offered testimony from a number of witnesses
- Rod Mulcahy, a lawyer in Marzen’s former law office, testified the attorneys and staff at the office would be there until eight or nine in the evening. He felt it would be difficult for Marzen to have had sex in his office during this time without being noticed.
- Marzen also offered testimony from a number of witnesses designed to show Doe had a propensity to lie or exaggerate. Marzen offered testimony from John Farrell, a probation officer formerly assigned to Doe. Doe had sued Farrell for sexual misconduct, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, and false imprisonment. Although Farrell denied any sexual harassment or other such conduct, he settled the lawsuit for $5,000.
- Exhibits were used and a DNA test by the IDCI came back with negative results. Also had a doctors appointment where the report documented only that Marzen’s buttocks and perineum appeared “normal,” without a specific statement affirming or denying the presence of loose folds of skin.
- While Marzen’s attempt to evade application of the rule of confidentiality is novel, it cannot be sustained.
- There have been similar scenarios that were unable to be sustained as well.
- Marzen argues that, even if his disclosures constituted a breach of confidentiality, that breach was excused by the rule:
- A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary: to establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client, to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the lawyer based upon conduct in which the client was involved, or to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the lawyer’s representation of the client.