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Jesse Matson Disbarred for Taking Money without Performing Work
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Jesse Matson

Summary: An attorney in Fargo, North Dakota was disbarred for collecting money without performing any legal work and other misconduct.

Fargo attorney Jesse D. Matson has been disbarred by the Disciplinary Board of the North Dakota Supreme Court after multiple allegations of misconduct were reported. Matson was found to have performed substandard legal work and to have collected money from clients without doing any legal work.


The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled unanimously against Matson, who has been suspended from practicing law since September 2015. The court ruled that he “failed to perform the work to justify the fees collected, and he failed to return any unearned funds to clients.”

The court found that he had no records showing how or when he earned the fees and had performed sloppy legal work. They said, “While practicing law, Matson submitted incomplete and poor quality paperwork; failed to understand the requirements of hearings and failed to attend or prepare for hearings.”

Matson mishandled several divorce and family law cases. He also failed to set client retainers aside in a trust fund and refund money to clients. The most recent charge against Matson was filed with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility in St. Paul. The petition filed against him claimed he committed financial misconduct by misappropriating client funds, failing to place client funds in trust, failing to return unearned fees and using improper fee agreements plus other claims of neglect and abandonment for numerous client matters, failing to communicate with clients, and failing to abide by court rules.

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There were three matters of misconduct in North Dakota and seven with Minnesota clients who were “harmed by Matson’s delays, abandonment of their cases and failure to return their files.” The court further stated that he hurt the profession by undermining “the public’s confidence in the legal profession, harming both the public and the profession.”

In one instance, a client gave him a $550 check to file a petition but Matson failed to file the petition in compliance so the clerk rejected the petition and returned the check. Matson did not, however, return the check to the client or attempt to refile the petition in compliance with the rules.

In another case, Matson did not communicate with a client, giving the wrong hearing date for a child-custody matter. The client traveled from Idaho to Minnesota unknowingly after the hearing, of which Matson also did not attend.

After his suspension in 2015, Matson stopped practicing law but failed to contact his clients. He did not cooperate with the disciplinary investigations regarding six different complaints against him. This is a violation of the code of professional conduct. He is required to pay restitution to clients of $59.250.

He is also barred from practicing law in Minnesota since January. He was admitted to practice in the state in 2008. The Minnesota Supreme Court stated, “The nature of Matson’s misconduct is serious and extensive.”

His explanation for his misconduct was for mental health issues that made him lose the “ability to function utterly and completely.” He explained he suffered from severe depression, PTSD, and anxiety.

Matson graduated with his law degree from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. He was admitted to practice in North Dakota in 2011.

Do you think mental problems like depression are acceptable reasons for misconduct? Tell us in the comments below.

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