In re Discipline of Schwenke

In re Discipline of Schwenke, 849 P.2d 573 (Utah 1993) involved a petition to disbar attorney Schwenke from the practice of law. Id. at 574. In that case, when Schwenke failed to appear at an order-to-show-cause hearing before the district court, we suspended him for thirty days on recommendation from the Bar. Id. at 575. The order was sent, via certified mail, to Schwenke's business address and received by his receptionist. Id. When Schwenke subsequently continued to practice during the thirty-day suspension, a special master recommended that Schwenke be disbarred. Id. In rejecting the special master's recommendation, we noted "grave concerns about the irregularities in the proceedings." Id. at 576. The Court stated, Significant licensing procedures are in place to assure that only qualified attorneys are admitted to the practice of law in this state. We think that suspension and disbarment proceedings call for adherence to minimum requirements of procedural due process, including notice of hearing and notice that the attorney's license has been restricted or withdrawn. We therefore hold that service by certified or registered mail must be on the attorney personally and cannot be accomplished by delivery to a common-area receptionist at the address of the attorney's office. . . We acknowledge that actual personal service will often be required when service by mail is ineffectual. However, in suspension or disbarment proceedings, actual notice is essential. Id.