On Friday, March 10, 2023, the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota ordered the suspension of Florida attorney Grace I. Gardiner pursuant to the latter’s suspension in the state of Tennessee for misconduct.

The case is styled “In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Grace I. Gardiner,” and was brought by the Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (OLPR) under case #A22-0922.

According to the court document, the Director of the OLPR filed a petition seeking the suspension of Gardiner based on the August 30, 2021, order of the Supreme Court of Tennessee suspending Gardiner from the practice of law for three years, with four months of active suspension and 30 months of probation. The suspension stemmed from a hearing panel’s findings of misconduct by Gardiner in her representation of clients before a bankruptcy court.

Gardiner was found by the hearing panel to have violated Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 3.3, 5.3, and 8.4(a).

The rules of professional conduct can be found online at this link.

The filing states:

“Respondent was suspended in Tennessee for failing to obtain original client signatures on documents before they were electronically filed in bankruptcy court, in violation of applicable law; failing to adequately supervise a nonlawyer assistant, who had clients return to the office to sign and backdate these documents after they had been filed; and presenting these documents to the bankruptcy court as documents that had been signed by the client before they were filed, knowing they contained backdated client signatures. Respondent also presented an agreed-to order continuing a hearing to a bankruptcy court when respondent forged the trustee’s signature and the trustee did not agree to the continuance. In addition, respondent presented a bankruptcy court with a document, knowing it contained the forged signature of her client. Finally, respondent allowed her name to be signed to retainer agreements before she met the clients.”

Thereafter, Gardiner and the Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility jointly filed a stipulation for discipline. The stipulation set forth Gardiner’s unconditional admission of the allegations of the petition and the parties’ joint recommendation of a 4-month suspension, retroactive to August 30, 2021, the date of the Tennessee discipline, as well as Gardiner’s reinstatement conditions, and Gardiner’s 32-month probation following her reinstatement.

The Court, upon its review of the files, ruled to approve the jointly recommended disposition, and ordered Gardiner’s suspension from the practice of law for a minimum of 4 months, retroactive to August 30, 2021.

Prior to being suspended, Ms. Gardiner practices as an immigration attorney in Tampa, Florida. She is the founding and managing attorney of Gardiner Immigration, PA. She graduated from William Mitchell College of Law in 19998. Gardiner has been admitted to the State Bars of Minnesota, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Her info can be found on LinkedIn.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.