A Forest City attorney has been publicly reprimanded by the Iowa Supreme Court for forging a judge’s signature. Attorney Mark Newman was helping a Davenport attorney with a case in Winnebago County which required Newman to drive to Garner in January of 2007 to get a judge’s signature on two legal documents. Judge James Drew approved both documents, but when Newman returned to his office, he found the judge had forgotten to sign one of the documents.

Newman forged the judge’s signature and filed the documents. Two days later, judge Drew telephoned Newman and told him he had an order with a signature he did not recognize. Newman admitted signing the judge’s name, and both the judge and Newman reported it. Newman was privately admonished by the Board of Appeals grievance commission, but the full board asked that the Supreme Court take more serious action by suspending his license.

The Iowa Supreme Court says based on the record, Newman appears to be a person of good moral character who committed a serious lapse in judgment, and had never been subjected to attorney discipline before. The High Court says Newman accepted responsibility for his actions and is very remorseful, but says a public reprimand is necessary to signal that forging a judge’s signature is a serious ethical violation under any circumstances.