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Attorney Joe Wrona may face additional discipline after rape trial

Joe Wrona pictured in 2016 in the KPCW studios.
Joe Wrona pictured in 2016 in the KPCW studios.

Ahead of the criminal trial of a prominent Park City attorney this fall, the Third District Court has delayed a separate attorney disciplinary case against him.

Joe Wrona, a Park City attorney on trial for rape, also faces disciplinary action from the Utah State Bar Office of Professional Conduct.

The OPC filed a complaint in 2018, and the matter was repeatedly delayed. Now, Wrona is charged with a first degree felony for allegedly raping his adult biological daughter in March 2022.

Both matters are on Judge Richard Mrazik’s desk in Third District Court.

Wrona told the court through attorney Matthew Lalli he was concerned about testifying in the state bar case before his criminal trial.

“While the two matters are not directly related, it is possible that questions and answers in this case may reflect, to some degree, on the pending criminal matter, whether that be by way of substance, credibility, comparative testimony, or other issues that conceivably could arise,” Lalli wrote.

The OPC did not oppose delaying the disciplinary trial, and Mrazik granted the request “out of an abundance of caution related to Mr. Wrona’s Fifth Amendment rights.”

The OPC accuses Wrona of representing a Summit Park landlord and their tenant in a dispute with their neighbors while simultaneously defending the landlord in a dispute with the same tenant. The state agency says this constitutes a conflict of interest, and it argues Wrona didn't represent the tenant diligently during the neighbors' dispute.

Wrona has been reprimanded for representing parties with a conflict of interest before.

The OPC filed a similar complaint against him in 2012 after he helped a man lay claim to property he said his ex-wife owed him after they divorced. Wrona also gave the woman legal advice and eventually began a romantic relationship with her without withdrawing as counsel for her ex-husband.

In 2013, then Third District Court Judge Todd Shaughnessy ruled Wrona was negligent but didn’t interfere with any legal proceedings, so he publicly reprimanded Wrona.

The latest conflict of interest complaint will go to a bench trial March 3, 2024, after Wrona’s rape trial, which was pushed back to December.

Corrected: October 23, 2023 at 3:24 PM MDT
This report was edited to clarify the details of the most recent Office of Professional Conduct complaint.
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