Hostetter faces Bar hearing

<p>Hostetter</p>

The Oregon State Bar is charging Enterprise attorney Rahn Hostetter with violating Oregon attorney ethics rules and has scheduled a formal hearing in the Wallowa County Courthouse beginning Feb 11.

Kateri Walsh, OSB’s professionalism and public outreach manager, said the hearing was scheduled for the whole week but would not necessarily last that long.

According to the Bar’s website, a disciplinary hearing is conducted “much like a court trial... Evidence in the form of testimony or documents is presented to support the bar’s charges. The accused lawyer is given the opportunity to defend the charges and confront witnesses.”

Serving as judge is a three-person panel, which includes two lawyers and one non-lawyer. All are trained volunteers under a system administered by the Oregon Supreme Court.

The Bar’s disciplinary charges arise from two different professional conduct complaints originally filed by two different Hostetter clients – husband and wife Gregory and Claudette Wieck; and Elk Mountain Cattle Company and its principals Charles Olsen, Lewis Olsen, and Jessica Anderson. The complaints concerned, in part, properties the Wiecks and Elk Mountain respectively own or owned within Wallowa County.

The Oregon State Bar’s Disciplinary Board, in deciding to proceed to a hearing, issued an amended formal complaint. According to Walsh, the Bar does not represent the clients who brought the alleged ethics violations to its attention.

The board alleges five “causes” of complaint against Hostetter. In the Wieck matter, the board alleges Hostetter in three instances violated a standard of professional conduct by entering into a business transaction with the Wiecks while they were his clients. In the Elk Mountain matter, it alleges Hostetter had a current client conflict of interest while representing both Elk Mountain and Community Bank in modifying loan agreements between the two.

According to the board’s amended formal complaint, the conflict of interest was itself a violation of professional conduct standards, and the Enterprise attorney’s failure to fully disclose the situation, and obtain the client’s informed consent to continue with the multiple representation, constituted a separate violation.

As listed in the board document, events in the Wieck matter date back at least to December 2003, when the Wiecks entered into a contract to sell Hostetter and his wife “a number of parcels.” In January 2008, the Hostetters borrowed funds from a bank to make partial payment to the Wiecks. “In connection with the loan, the Accused had the Wiecks sign a trust deed subordinating their interest in the property described in the contract to the mortgage securing the loan,” the amended complaint states.

It goes on to allege: “The trust deed... was not fair and reasonable to the Wiecks, and the Accused failed to fully disclose the terms of the trust deed/subordination agreement... in writing in a manner that could be reasonably understood by the Wiecks.”

According to the Bar, events in the Elk Mountain matter begin in the period from January 2000 to May 2002, when Elk Mountain borrowed funds from Community Bank and for each transaction executed promissory notes and trust deeds.

Later, beginning “in May 2003 and through February 2005, the Accused represented Elk Mountain, its principals, and Community Bank in modifying the loan agreements between them. In that matter, the interests of Elk Mountain and its principals were adverse to the interests of Community Bank as lender,” the complaint states.

Contacted by the Chieftain for comment, Hostetter drew a connection between the professional conduct complaints and litigation launched or supported by Imnaha area ranch manager Lloyd Trackwell Jr., who was convicted in October of violating a court stalking order obtained by the Bruce Hampton family, Enterprise residents who are Hostetter’s clients.

“I have had an abundance of undeserved blessings and I can accept some undeserved accusations,” Hostetter said. “These accusations are what remain of a multitude of complaints filed by Lloyd Trackwell and his companions over the past five years. Other complaints were all dismissed.”

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