An Attorney Discipline Board hearing panel has issued an order of reprimand to high-profile attorney and Oakland University Trustee Henry Baskin after he admitted that he had a sexual relationship with a client while representing her in a divorce action.
Baskin represented the client from 1999 to 2004.
According to the panel’s report, Baskin admitted that his conduct violated Michigan Rule of Professional Conduct 1.7(b)(1), in that under the circumstances of the case, “a lawyer could not reasonably believe that the representation might not be adversely affected by the lawyer’s personal interests.”
Robert Edick, the Deputy Grievance Administrator presented the case to the hearing panel. Edick argued that Baskin should be suspended for his misconduct.
The hearing panel concluded that Baskin should have known better.
“Although there is no evidence of actual injury to the client, the potential for injury under these circumstances is clear to any lawyer, and certainly to someone with respondent’s experience,” the hearing panel wrote.
“Indeed, this experience caused this panel to consider imposing a suspension, but we have concluded that Standard 4.33 is applicable and that the imposition of a reprimand adequately serves to protect the public, the courts and the profession,” the panel concluded.
Baskin was assessed costs and fees totaling $2,468.
Update: Edick said the Attorney Grievance Commission has not made a decision whether to appeal the level of discipline imposed by the hearing panel. Any appeal would be heard first by the Attorney Discipline Board.