SC: Attorney Discipline Matters for April 2017

Danny Perkins Butler; Christopher David Wiest; Dennis Michael Statesman; David Cary Ford; Christopher Lee Stansbury; James David Johnson

A. Inquiry Commission v. Danny Perkins Butler 

2016-SC-000668-KB April 27, 2017 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. The Inquiry Commission moved the Court to temporarily suspend Butler’s license to practice law based on information the Commission had received from the Hardin County Commonwealth’s Attorney. That information revealed that Butler had been indicted for theft by unlawful taking of more than $10,000 related to Butler’s misappropriation of client funds. The Commission also noted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating 115 complaints related to Butler that it had received. The Supreme Court granted the Commission’s motion.

B. Kentucky Bar Association v. Christopher David Wiest 

2017-SC-000039-KB April 27, 2017 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. The Supreme Court of Ohio suspended Wiest for two years, with the second year stayed on the condition he engage in no further misconduct. Thereafter, the Kentucky Bar Association filed a petition with the Supreme Court of Kentucky asking that reciprocal discipline be imposed. The Court issued a show cause order and Wiest responded but failed to prove by substantial evidence that the grounds set forth in SCR 2.435(4)(a) and (b) were met in his case. Accordingly, the Court suspended him from the practice of law consistent with the order of the Supreme Court of Ohio. 6

C. Kentucky Bar Association v. Dennis Michael Stutsman 

2017-SC-000098-KB April 27, 2017 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Stutsman was banned from filing any new cases in federal court for a period of one year for failing to timely filing appeals in two separate Social Security cases. The matter was referred to the KBA Office of Bar Counsel for disciplinary proceedings. Stutsman was served with a copy of the Inquiry Commission complaint but failed to respond. He also received a copy of the Commission’s charge via certified mail but again failed to respond. Accordingly, the matter proceeded to the Board of Governors by default and Stutsman was found guilty. The Board recommended that Stutsman be suspended from the practice of law for thirty days, be required to attended the Ethics and Professionalism Enhancement Program and be referred to KYLAP.

Neither Stutsman nor the Office of Bar Counsel requested that the Supreme Court take review of the Board’s decision under SCR 3.370(7) and the Court declined to independently review the Board’s decision under SCR 3.370(8). After reviewing the record, analogous case law and Stutsman’s disciplinary history, the Court adopted the Board’s Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Recommendations under SCR 3.370(9) and suspended Stutsman from the practice of law in the Commonwealth for thirty days.

D. Kentucky Bar Association v. David Cary Ford 

2017-SC-000099-KB April 27, 2017 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Ford pleaded guilty in federal court to criminal charges of fraud and money laundering. He acted as the executor of seven estates between 2008 and 2015, from which he took approximately $1.7 million for his own personal benefit. The money Ford stole was intended for various charities and the decedents’ families.

The Inquiry Commission issued a two-count charge against Ford. All attempts to serve Ford were unsuccessful and service was finally completed via the KBA’s Executive Director under SCR 3.175(2). Ford never filed a response and the Board of Governors found Ford guilty of violating both SCR 3.130-8.4(b) and (c). The Supreme Court agreed with the Board’s findings and, given the nature of Ford’s violations and their gravity, agreed that permanent disbarment was the appropriate sanction. Accordingly, the Court ordered Ford permanently disbarred from the practice of law in the Commonwealth.

E. Christopher Lee Stansbury v. Kentucky Bar Association 

2017-SC-000100-KB April 27, 2017 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Stansbury conducted a number of real estate closings and held himself out as being authorized to collect title insurance premiums on behalf of an insurance carrier when he had no such 7

authorization. In another matter, Stansbury advised a client that he had filed a QDRO, when he had not done so, and he failed to advise that client that his license had been suspended for unrelated violations of the Rules of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court accepted the agreed to sanction of a two-year suspension with readmission contingent upon completion of a KYLAP assessment.

F. James David Johnson v. Kentucky Bar Association 

2017-SC-000114-KB April 27, 2017 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Johnson admitted to six counts of violating the Kentucky Rules of Professional Conduct and moved the Court to impose the sanction of permanent disbarment. The KBA did not object to Johnson’s motion. Upon review, the Court agreed that the proposed sanction was appropriate and permanently disbarred Johnson from the practice of law in the Commonwealth.