ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS: SCOKY May 2009

A. Stanley Brown v. Kentucky Bar Association
2007-SC-000455-KB May 21, 2009

Attorney was disbarred in Kentucky in 1995. At that time, the rules did not provide for permanent disbarment, and attorney could seek reinstatement after five years. The attorney was subsequently permanently disbarred in Ohio in 1997. In 2007, he sought reinstatement to the Kentucky bar. The Court ordered the attorney to show cause, in light of the Ohio disbarment, why he should not be subject to permanent disbarment in Kentucky under the reciprocal discipline rule (SCR 3.435). The attorney argued that at most, his reciprocal discipline should be disbarment for five years after which he could seek reinstatement since that was the severest sanction possible in Kentucky at the time when he was disciplined in Ohio. Further, the attorney argued that the five-year period should run from the date of his Ohio disbarment.

The Court agreed that appropriate sanction should be suspension for five years after which he may apply for reinstatement. However, the Court made the suspension effective from the date of its order, noting that the attorney failed to notify the KBA of his Ohio disbarment when it occurred, as required under SCR 3.435(1). Further, the attorney did not reveal the extent of the Ohio discipline in his 2007 application for reinstatement to the Kentucky bar. The Court lauded the attorney’s steps to seek treatment for addiction issues, but noted those efforts did not offset his “habitual lack of candor.” The Chief Justice dissented on the grounds that he would impose permanent disbarment.

B. Kentucky Bar Association v. Brentley P. Smith
2008-SC-000523-KB May 21, 2009
2009-SC-000094-KB May 21, 2009

The Supreme Court adopted the KBA Board of Governor’s recommendation of permanent disbarment of attorney based on 73 violations of the Rules of Profession Conduct stemming from 12 consolidated disciplinary cases against him. The attorney did not respond to, or otherwise defend against, the charges.

C. Kentucky Bar Association v. William J. Grider
2009-SC-000101-KB May 21, 2009

The Supreme Court adopted the KBA Board of Governor’s recommendation to suspend attorney for 30 days. Attorney accepted $500 to pursue an expungement, but took no action in the matter, despite client’s repeated attempts to discuss the case. The attorney was found to have failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness (SCR 3.130-1.3), failed to keep his client reasonably informed (SCR 3.130-1.4(a)), failed to return an unearned fee (SCR 3.130-1.16(d)) and failed to respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority (SCR 3.130-8.1(b)).

D. Kentucky Bar Association v. James Kevin Mathews
2009-SC-000102-KB May 21, 2009

The Supreme Court adopted the KBA Board of Governor’s recommendation to suspend attorney for 181 days. Attorney was found to have accepted money from two separate clients, but took no further action beyond filing a complaint. The clients tried unsuccessfully to contact the attorney and subsequently learned that he had closed his law office. The Court noted that the attorney did not respond to the charges and has been serving a suspension since January 2008 for failing to pay bar dues.

E. Ferdinand R. Radolovich v. Kentucky Bar Association
2009-SC-000128-KB May 21, 2009

The Supreme Court granted attorney’s motion to resign from the bar under terms of permanent disbarment. Attorney admitted to inducing client to make an agreement prospectively limiting liability for legal malpractice, in violation of SCR 3.130-1.8(h), and engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation (SCR 3.130-8.3(c)). Attorney had also been held in contempt by the Sixth Circuit for failing to pay opposing party’s attorney fees and costs associated with an appeal deemed to be “incoherent and frivolous.” Attorney admitted to incorrectly advising a client whether her guilty plea to a fraud charge would result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction. Attorney also admitted to incorrectly advising the same client whether her settlement proceeds from sexual harassment suit would be taxable income. Lastly, attorney admitted he did not provide truthful testimony during a hearing in Jefferson Circuit Court—which led to his indictment on perjury charges. As part of his plea agreement in that matter, the attorney agreed to notify the KBA of his request for permanent disbarment.

F. Keith U. Laurin v. Kentucky Bar Association
2009-SC-000192-KB May 21, 2009

The Supreme Court granted attorney’s motion for public reprimand with conditions on charges arising from his representation of a client seeking to form a tax-exempt organization. The attorney admitted that he did not provide competent representation (SCR 3.130-1.1), that he did not act with reasonable diligence (SCR 3.130-1.3), and that he did not adequately respond to the client’s reasonable requests for information about the status of the case (SCR 3.130-1.4(a)). The Court also ordered the attorney to attend remedial ethics CLE.

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