2018-01-04 / Courts

S-B attorney plans to reopen practice after State Bar suspension served

A Suttons Bay attorney who has been suspended hopes to eventually resume practicing law.

Dan A. Penning, a well-known attorney in Suttons Bay agreed through a stipulation with the State Bar Association to shut down his practice for 30 months.

Penning said a grievance was filed against him in 2014 by the attorney who represented his wife in a divorce proceedings. His ex-wife has since passed away.

“It was a technical violation that occurred in 2012, and was reported to the state bar by my ex-wife’s divorce attorney,” said Penning, who resides in the village. “No client had a problem with me, and I never had a complaint filed against me during 33 years of practice.”

Penning explained the essence of the complaint.

“No client lost any money. It was basically some retainer funds that were deposited into a general account. That’s the way we use to do it when I started practicing until we got the trust account rules in the 1990s,” Penning said.

Now, he said, he wishes he’d been more careful in his bookkeeping.

His suspension followed a discipline board hearing of the Michigan Bar Association.

Penning, 57, was suspended from practicing law for 30 months effective Oct. 25, according to an article published in the Michigan Bar Journal. The suspension came with a stipulation that he pay $798.60 in costs to cover the expense of the hearing.

According to the Bar Association story, the panel found that Penning held monies in “Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts” that were not client or third-party funds. Penning was also found to have failed to hold property of a client or third party separate from his property, and deposited his own funds into a client trust account “in excess of an amount reasonably necessary to pay financial institution service charges,” the panel found among other improprieties.

Penning consented to the suspension, the story states.

Penning hopes that he can put his professional life back together after the suspension ends.

“Since this news has broke, I’ve had nothing but encouragement and support from people I know. People come up to me in Hansen’s and tell me they are worried for my troubles,” he said.

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