On December 14, 2022, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Arizona Supreme Court reprimanded Arizona attorney John Duke Harris over the case of negligence and acting with no reasonable diligence. 

The case is entitled “In the matter of John Duke Harris” bought by the State Bar, with case no. PDJ 2022-9045.

The charges cited Rule 42, Ariz.R.Sup.C and ERs 1.2, 1.3, and 3.2.

Allegedly the respondent, while handling a case, violated the Rules of Professional Conduct primarily by expediting the litigation of one of his clients.

The filing states:

“During the time Mr. Harris performed work on Ms. Riley’s case, she questioned him about when the business valuation would be complete, and why he was pursuing certain discovery that Ms. believed was unnecessary, because she wanted to prioritize the money she spent on fees to obtaining a business valuation to be in the best 4 positions to evaluate the costs and benefits of pursuing her former husband regarding the business buyout. Mr. Harris continued to pursue the discovery that Ms. believed was unnecessary.”

The filing continues:

“On August 3, 2018, Ms. Riley sent an email message to Mr. Harris, in order to try to get him to help her discontinue the Eckley firm’s automatic charges to her credit card absent her specific authorization. That email message stated: And if it’s going to be any more than 2k [to transition representation to Attorney Stan Lerner], I need to give authorization. I don’t have the money for this. I have asked this before, but my card was charged anyway. This time more than before! Mr. Harris took no action in response to Ms. Riley’s instruction that he stop the Eckley firm from making automatic charges on her credit card. The Eckley firm, including Mr. Harris, withdrew from representing Ms. Riley in November 2018. A business appraisal was never performed, and an expert was never retained for that purpose. The Eckley firm charged Ms. Riley’s credit card in excess of $110,000, the majority of which covered Mr. Harris ‘ time that was billed to the file.”

The parties agree that Standard 4.43 (Lack of Diligence) is the applicable standard for the case. Under 4.43, a Reprimand is generally appropriate when a lawyer is negligent and does not act with reasonable diligence in representing a client, and causes injury or potential injury to a client. In this matter, Riley wanted to prioritize the money she spent on fees to obtain a business valuation in order to determine the costs and benefits of pursuing her former husband regarding the business buyout issue. However, Respondent continued to work on the discovery that Riley thought was unnecessary to achieve her primary goal.

The Disposition states:

“IT IS ORDERED that Respondent, John Duke Harris, is Reprimanded for his conduct in violation of the Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct, as outlined in the consent documents.”

As of today, Mr. Harris is listed on the website of the law firm Harris Palumbo Powers & Cunningham PLLC as a practicing attorney. His info can be found on lawyer.com. Harris practices in Phoenix, Arizona with license #7407.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.