A Montana Supreme Court case was filed Wednesday, Nov. 6, against Sidney attorney Tara Rose-Miller by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the State of Montana.
The filing chronicles eight counts of misconduct alleged against Rose-Miller, including violations of Montana “Rules of Professional Conduct, the Disciplinary Rules adopted by the Supreme Court, and the highest standards of honesty, justice and morality, including, but not limited to, those outlined in parts 3 and 4 of Chapter 61, Title 37, Montana Code Annotated…”
Count one stems from an incident in 2016, wherein Rose-Miller allegedly issued a retainer refund check to a client from her Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA), which resulted in an insufficient funds notification. Rose-Miller, according to court documents, deposited funds from Rose Miller Law, P.C. business account into the IOLTA account to cover the check. By doing so, she co-mingled funds which violates Montana Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC).
In count two, documents state from September 2016 through July 2018, Rose-Miller, referred to as the respondent in the court filing, “paid her firm nearly $142,000 but had only earned approximately $107,800. Respondent took and misappropriated nearly $34,200 from the IOLTA trust account she had not yet earned and used it for her own purposes.”
Count three alleges beginning in June 2018, Rose-Miller stopped depositing any and all client retainers into the IOLTA trust account and began reposting all client retainers into Rose Miller Law, P.C. business account before the funds were earned. Funds must be held separately per MRPC.
The fourth count describes an ongoing attorney-client relationship with Dave Pope and wife Kay Pope. Court documents state that in October 2017, Kay authorized a one-time payment to Rose-Miller for $2,000 via PayPal to be applied to the balance owed.
“Respondent proceeded to charge Kay’s debit card through at least January 2018 without her authorization multiple times using other payment processing companies, BluePay and Square,” documents state. “Not all attempted charges were successful. The successful, unauthorized charges totaled approximately $19,700. Some or all of those funds were transferred to Respondent’s business account via the payment processors.”
Rose-Miller returned around $8,400 to the Popes, leaving a remaining unauthorized balance of $11,300, which documents state she refused to return until the client’s account was paid.
Similar practices are alleged in counts five through eight. Rose-Miller was hired as legal representation, a retainer was collected and a credit card would be provided to charge monthly. Allegedly, charges would quickly exceed the agreed and/or contracted dollar amount, then those funds would appear in a business or personal account before they had been earned. Three other victims are listed in court documents with varying amounts of unauthorized charges in question, including $6,600 via Square, $250 via BluePay, $400 via Square, $56,600 via BluePay and a charge for withdrawal from representation, which violates MRPC rules 1.5 and 1.16.
Rose-Miller has 20 days to file a written answer to the complaint. A formal hearing will then be held on the allegations.
The Sidney Herald attempted to reach Rose-Miller via phone for comment, but was unsuccessful.