On Tuesday, December 5, 2023, the Iowa Supreme Court publicly reprimanded attorney Murray W. Bell of Davenport for misconduct related to his client trust account.

The case is entitled “Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Bard v. Murray W. Bell,” with case no. 23-1846.

The Board reprimanded Bell for violations that came to light during a 2022 audit of his client trust account by the Iowa Client Security Commission. The audit found that Bell had failed to conduct the required monthly reconciliations of his trust account balances and individual client ledger balances between 2020 and 2022. Specifically, Bell did not perform the triple reconciliation process to check the ledger balances against the checkbook register and bank statements.

As a result of Bell’s improper record keeping and reconciliations, the audit uncovered issues including negative sub-account balances, an overage of $8,291.07 in the account, and stale outstanding checks. Bell also left earned fees commingled in the trust account. On his annual client security questionnaires during this period, Bell falsely stated that he performed the required monthly reconciliations.

In their September 8, 2023 letter to Bell, the Board took issue with these violations of rules related to trust account management and Bell’s dishonest answers on the questionnaires. Bell admitted to some findings but denied others. He claimed he did not understand the reconciliation process. However, the Board noted Bell had been informed of the reconciliation requirement in a 2018 audit.

Based on Bell’s various admissions and the audit findings, the Board publicly reprimanded him on September 8, 2023, for violations of conduct rules around trust account management and keeping required records. The Supreme Court has made this reprimand part of the public record.

The order of public reprimand states:

“Pursuant to Iowa Court Rule 35.12, the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board reprimand of attorney Murray W. Bell, Davenport, Iowa, has been filed with the clerk of this court with proof of service and a statement that Bell has not filed an exception within the time prescribed.”

According to avvo.com, Mr. Bell is a criminal defense attorney in Bettendorf, Iowa. He acquired his law license in Iowa in 1988. 

A copy of the original filing can be found here.