Attorney and Judicial Discipline – January 2011

VII. ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE:

A. Kentucky Bar Association v. Charles C. Leadingham

2010-SC-000673-KB January 20, 2011

Opinion of the Court.  All sitting; all concur.  In two consolidated KBA cases, Leadingham was found to have accepted money from clients for work not performed.  In the first case, after Leadingham was suspended from the practice of law, he stopped communicating with his client and failed to refund any of the fee paid by the client.  In the second case, Leadingham accepted a fee to represent a client, but after he was suspended from the practice of law, he failed to refund any part of the fee and failed to communicate with the client.  Given the attorney’s extensive record of prior discipline for similar conduct, the KBA recommended, and the Supreme Court imposed, permanent disbarment.

 

B. Inquiry Commission v. Scott Truesdell

2010-SC-000738-KB January 20, 2011

Opinion of the Court.  All sitting; all concur.  The Supreme Court found probable cause to believe that Truesdell, as the closing attorney for a mortgage refinancing, failed to pay $185,443.97 to Bank of America after First Federal Bank wired that amount to him for the purpose of satisfying Bank of America’s existing mortgage. The Supreme Court imposed a temporary suspension pending further investigation.

C. Kentucky Bar Association v. James E. Isenberg

2010-SC-000691 January 20, 2011

Opinion of the Court.  All sitting; all concur.  Attorney suspended for five years due to ethical violations including failing to keep client properly informed, failing to deposit client’s settlement proceeds into escrow or trust account, failing to promptly deliver funds due to client, and engaging in dishonest and/or fraudulent conduct.  Mental illness and lack of prior disciplinary history were considered as mitigating factors.

D. James Gregory Troutman v. Kentucky Bar Association

2010-SC-000698-KB January 20, 2011

Opinion of the Court.  All sitting; all concur.  Attorney suspended for thirty days for practicing law while under a two-year suspension.

VIII. JUDICIAL DISCIPLINE

 A. Honorable Tamra Gormley v. Judicial Conduct Commission

2009-SC-000736-RR 2010-SC-000010-RR

(Original Opinion: August 26, 2010; Modified: January 20, 2011)

Memorandum Opinion of the Court by Chief Justice Minton.  Justices Abramson, Cunningham, Schroder, Scott, and Venters sitting.  Judicial Conduct Commission found that Family Court Judge engaged in three counts of misconduct for violations of the Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct, imposing as a penalty public reprimands and a 45-day suspension. The Supreme Court affirmed the findings and penalties imposed in all respects. As modified on denial of rehearing, issues/holdings include: 1) judge may be sanctioned for even one egregious incident of judicial misconduct as a pattern of misconduct is not necessarily required, overruling Hinton v. Judicial Retirement and Removal Commission, 854 S.W.2d 756 (Ky. 1993) to the extent that if conflicts with this holding, and furthermore 2) evidence was sufficient to establish pattern of misconduct and Judicial Conduct Commission implicitly found such a pattern of misconduct, 3) evidence was sufficient to show bad faith and Judicial Conduct Commission implicitly found bad faith, and 4) judges may be sanctioned for egregious error contrary to settled law about which there is no confusion or question as to its interpretation.  Justice Schroder concurred in result only, joined by Justice Scott. Justice Noble recused.

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