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Minnesota Supreme Court disbars former Fargo attorney suspended in ND

Jesse Matson, a graduate of Moorhead High School and former Fargo attorney, was recently disbarred from practicing law in Minnesota.

FARGO -- A former Fargo attorney whose license was suspended in North Dakota in 2015 is now disbarred from practicing law in Minnesota after a recent state Supreme Court decision.

The Minnesota Supreme Court issued the disbarment of attorney Jesse David Matson on Wednesday, Jan. 18, stating, “The nature of Matson’s misconduct is serious and extensive.”

Matson, of Detroit Lakes, Minn., and formerly practicing in Fargo, was admitted to practice law in Minnesota in October 2008 and in North Dakota in October 2011. He is a graduate of William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Concordia College and Moorhead High School.

Matson was suspended for six months in August 2015 by the disciplinary board of the North Dakota Supreme Court for mishandling several divorce and family law cases, for not setting client retainers aside in a trust fund and for failing to refund money to clients.

The most-recent disciplinary action was taken after the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility in St. Paul filed a petition against Matson for committing financial misconduct by misappropriating client funds, failing to place client funds in trust, failing to return unearned fees and using improper fee agreements, as well as neglecting and abandoning numerous client matters, failing to communicate with clients and failing to abide by court rules.

According to the Minnesota Supreme Court decision:

Matson’s misconduct between 2013 and 2015 involved seven Minnesota client matters and three in North Dakota. He “engaged in a pattern of neglect and abandonment” involving all of the clients, who were “harmed by Matson’s delays, abandonment of their cases and failure to return their files.” The legal profession was also affected by Matson’s misconduct, which “undermines the public’s confidence in the legal profession, harming both the public and the profession.”

He committed serious financial misconduct by accepting a total of $9,000 from three clients as retainers, but failed to account for any legal services provided or refund any unearned fees, the Minnesota court said in its decision. Matson cause monetary harm to four clients by misappropriating client funds and failing to refund unearned fees.

One Minnesota client gave Matson a $550 check for filing a petition, but Matson’s filing of the petition was not in compliance and the clerk rejected the petition and returned it along with the check. However, Matson did not return the money to the client or attempt to resubmit the petition in compliance with rules.

Over the course of three years, four of Matson’s client did not receiving billing statements or invoices, and funds from those clients were not put into a trust account.

Regarding Matson’s failure to communicate, he gave one client the wrong hearing date in January 2014 for a child-custody matter, so the client unknowingly traveled from Idaho to Minnesota after the hearing, which Matson did not attend. The district court ordered monetary sanctions against the client and Matson for a frivolous motion Matson filed. Without consulting the client, Matson filed a notice of appeal with the district court, but not with the court of appeals, so a monetary sanction was issued against Matson.

Matson also failed to inform four clients that he vacated his North Dakota law office in fall 2015 after his license was suspended. Similarly, his representation of seven Minnesota clients ended when he stopped responding to client communications.

On three different occasions with two clients, he falsely told them he scheduled hearings, but in fact did not.

After Matson was placed on suspension, he failed to cooperate in several disciplinary investigations that were a result of six clients filing complaints between August 2015 and February 2016. The state Supreme Court said this, too, harmed the legal profession by undermining the public’s confidence in the ability of the profession to self-regulate.

Matson wrote the state Supreme Court stating that his misconduct was due to his struggles with mental health that caused him to lose the “ability to function utterly and completely.” He wrote that in fall 2015, he suffered severe depression, PTSD as diagnosed by his psychologist and anxiety. Matson also said his “work product suffered” after losing his entire staff twice in 2015.

But because Matson failed to timely respond to two petitions sent to him by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, he was not allowed to raise mitigating factors at this time.

Along with his disbarment, Matson is required to pay a $900 fee.

Matson could not be reached for comment.