Nebraska Supreme Court disbars Omaha lawyer for mixing personal, client funds

September 2, 2018

LINCOLN — An Omaha-area attorney lost his law license Friday for mixing client funds with his personal money in violation of professional rules.

The Nebraska Supreme Court disbarred John C. Nimmer, who has practiced law since 1993 in Omaha and Bellevue. An investigation by the court’s Counsel for Discipline showed Nimmer had written dozens of personal checks on a trust fund reserved for client fees and judgments.

The court’s order of disbarment showed that from 2006 to 2016, Nimmer had made thousands of dollars in withdrawals from the client trust account to pay for things such as utility bills, office rent, church donations and his daughter’s summer camp. Nimmer contested the counsel’s findings, saying he did nothing wrong.

“There wasn’t a dime stolen, never ever,” Nimmer said Friday. “This was the first case where they disbarred somebody where no money was stolen.”

A staff attorney with the Counsel for Discipline could not confirm Friday whether the court had ever disbarred a lawyer for commingling funds alone. However, the Supreme Court’s order did not indicate that Nimmer had stolen or misappropriated client funds.

Nimmer said he maintained a ledger that tracked his personal funds in the client account from 2011 on, but he had destroyed similar records prior to 2011.

Nonetheless, state rules for the practice of law clearly prohibit the commingling of a lawyer’s personal and client funds.

The court’s order also indicated that there were additional “aggravating factors” for revoking Nimmer’s law license.

For example, in 2013, the Supreme Court reprimanded Nimmer for maintaining a website that promised to connect startup business owners with angel investors. A client alleged he paid $12,500 to Nimmer for related services that never were provided.

The Supreme Court said commingling of client and personal funds by attorneys is “a matter of gravest concern in reviewing claims of lawyer misconduct.” The court also said that sending a strong message to warn other lawyers not to engage in the practice is paramount.

“Misuse of client trust accounts, even when it does not involve obvious misappropriation, harms the reputation of the entire legal profession by undermining public confidence and trust in attorneys, in the courts, and in the legal system generally,” the court’s order stated.

Nimmer, 53, said he is considering filing a lawsuit in federal court arguing that the disciplining of lawyers should be handled by the executive branch rather than the judicial branch.

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