Attorney Disciplinary Decisions from Kentucky Supreme Court for September 2013

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Historical Marker Located Outside Boyle County Court House in Danville, Kentucky Re: Justice John Marshall Harlan, THE Great Dissenter

The Supreme Court of Kentucky took disciplinary actions in the following matters noted below.   The following pages were extracted from the September 2013 Monthly Summary of Published Decisions from Kentucky Supreme Court with links and more information on each of the cases.

ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE:

 

A. Kentucky Bar Association v. Philip M. Kleinsmith 

2013-SC-000262-KB September 26, 2013 

Opinion of the Court. All sitting; all concur. The Arizona Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Kleinsmith for his conduct in violation of the Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct. The Court further ordered that Kleinsmith be placed on probation for one year, subject to early termination upon completion of “Ethics School.” Thereafter, the Kentucky Bar Association moved the Kentucky Supreme Court to issue an order requiring Kleinsmith to show cause why reciprocal discipline should not be imposed under SCR 3.435. Kleinsmith failed to file a response. Accordingly, the Court granted the KBA’s petition for reciprocal discipline, publicly reprimanding Kleinsmith for his conduct and placing him on probation for one year, subject to early termination upon completion of “Ethics School.”

B. Kentucky Bar Association v. William A. Nisbet, IV 

2013-SC-000421-KB September 26, 2013 

Opinion of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Nisbet failed to communicate adequately with his clients and to file the matter for which he was retained. The Inquiry Commission issued a one-count Charge against him, alleging a violation of SCR 3.130-1.16(d). Nisbet failed to participate in the disciplinary proceedings and service to his bar address was unsuccessful, resulting in the KBA Executive Director accepting service on his behalf under SCR 3.175(2). The Board of Governors recommended that the Supreme Court suspend Nisbet for thirty days and probate the suspension on the condition that Nisbet provide restitution in the amount of $1,000 to his clients within sixty days. The Court agreed with the Board’s recommendation and sanctioned Nisbet accordingly.

C. Kentucky Bar Association v. Louis Edward Reinhart, III 

2013-SC-000422-KB September 26, 2013 

Opinion of the Court. All sitting; all concur. The Board of Governors unanimously found Reinhart guilty of violating SCR 3.130-1.3; SCR 3.130- 1.4(b); SCR 3.130-1.5(b) & (c); SCR 3.130-8.4(c); SCR 3.130-1.15(a); SCR 3.130-1.15(b); and SCR 3.175)(1)(a), and recommended permanent disbarment from the practice of law. Upon consideration of the severity of Reinhart’s violations, his prior disciplinary record, his failure to respond to any prior correspondence relating to the disciplinary charges, and sanctions imposed for similar infractions, the Court agreed with the Board’s recommendation and permanently disbarred Reinhart from the practice of law.

D. Kentucky Bar Association v. Steven F. Claypoole 

2013-SC-000469-KB September 26, 2013 

Opinion of the Court. All sitting; all concur. After a two-day hearing, a trial commissioner recommended that Claypoole receive a six-month suspension from the practice of law, conditionally probated for two years, for his alleged violations of former SCR 3.130-1.2(a); former SCR 3.130-1.4(b); former SCR 3.130-1.7(b); and former SCR 3.130-8.3(c). The recommended sanction was based on Claypoole’s alleged misconduct, along with his prior disciplinary history, which included a 30-day suspension and a 181-day suspension, both of which were imposed when Claypoole failed to comply with the conditions of the relevant disciplinary orders. Neither Claypoole nor the KBA filed a notice to the Court to review the trial commissioner’s decision. Accordingly, the Court adopted the decision of the trial commissioner and suspended Claypoole from the practice of law for six months.

E. Richard D. Null v. Kentucky Bar Association 

2013-SC-000507-KB September 26, 2013 

Opinion of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Null asked the Supreme Court to enter an order resolving his two pending disciplinary cases by imposing a 61-day suspension from the practice of law, probated for a period of two years with certain conditions, for his alleged violation of SCR 3.130-1.3; SCR3.130-1.16(d); and SCR 3.130-8.4(c). The motion was the result of a negotiated sanction with Bar Counsel. After reviewing the allegations and Null’s disciplinary record, the Court concluded that the proposed discipline was appropriate and sanctioned Null accordingly.

F. Paul S. Gordinier v. Kentucky Bar Association 

2013-SC-000508-KB September 26, 2013 

Opinion of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Gordinier moved the Court to impose a suspension from the practice of law for a period of four years, beginning June 5, 2012, the date of his automatic suspension under SCR 3.166(1). In 2011,

Gordinier pled guilty on two separate occasions to driving under the influence, a misdemeanor, and on one occasion to two counts of assault in the second degree, a Class C felony. On February 4, 2013, the Inquiry Commission issued a one- count Charge against Gordinier for violating SCR 3.130-8.4(b), which provides that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to “commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.” Gordinier admitted that his actions violated SCR 3.130-8.4(b) and entered into a negotiated sanction with the KBA. After reviewing sanctions imposed in similar cases and several mitigating factors, including Gordinier’s 5- year supervision agreement with the Kentucky Lawyer Assistance Program, his completion of an intensive outpatient chemical dependency program, and his participation in Alcoholics Anonymous, the Court determined that the negotiated sanction was appropriate and suspended Gordinier from the practice of law for a period of four years, commencing on June 5, 2012.

G. William R. Wilson v. Kentucky Bar Association 

2013-SC-000546-SC September 26, 2013 

Opinion of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Wilson moved the Court for an order allowing him to resign under terms of permanent disbarment under SCR 3.480(3). Based on Wilson’s numerous ethical violations and the KBA’s agreement with his request, the Court allowed Wilson to resign and ordered him permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Kentucky.

H. Charles J. McEnroe v. Kentucky Bar Association 

2013-SC-000547-KB September 26, 2013 

Opinion of the Court. Minton, C.J., Abramson, Cunningham, Keller, Noble and Scott, JJ., concur. Venters, J., not sitting. McEnroe moved the Court to impose a five-year suspension from the practice of law based upon his federal conviction for tax evasion. Upon his guilty plea to willfully attempting to evade and defeat payment of income and employment taxes owed to the United States from 1993 – 2008, McEnroe and the KBA agreed to a negotiated sanction that would impose a five-year suspension from the practice of law, subject to the requirement that McEnroe also undergo an evaluation through the Kentucky Lawyers Assistance Program and successfully complete any and all resulting recommendations. The Court agreed that the negotiated sanction was appropriate and suspended McEnroe accordingly.

 

I. Andrew L. Holton v. Kentucky Bar Association 

2013-SC-000551-KB September 26, 2013 

Opinion of the Court. All sitting; all concur. The Inquiry Commission issued a Charge against Holton, which contained seven counts alleging violations of SCR 3.130-13 (failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness); SCR 3.130- 1.4(a)(3) (failure to keep client reasonably informed); SCR 3.30-1.4(a)(4) (failure to comply with client’s reasonable requests for information); SCR 3.130-1.8(a) (entering into a business transaction with a client); SCR 3.130-1.8(e) (providing financial assistance to a client in connection with pending litigation); SCR 3.130- 1.15(b) (failure to promptly notify client of receipt of funds or deliver funds to a client); and SCR 3.130-8.1(b) (failure to respond to a lawful demand for information from disciplinary authority). Holton asked the Court to dismiss five of the seven counts that were based on his alleged failure to respond to the bar complaint. Holton’s counsel provided an affidavit stating that he had mailed Holton’s response. And the KBA subsequently received Holton’s response and verified answer and found they were sufficient to justify dismissal of the charges. Upon reviewing Holton’s response and answer, and in light of the KBA having no objection, the counts were dismissed. With respect to the remaining counts, Holton admitted that his actions violated SCR 3.130-1.8(a) and SCR 3.130-1.8(e) and agreed to a negotiated sanction in order to resolve the matter. The Court agreed with the recommended discipline and suspended Holton from the practice of law for sixty-one days, probated for two years on the condition that he receive no additional disciplinary charges during that period. The Court further ordered Holton to receive and participate in an evaluation performed by the Kentucky Lawyers Assistance Program.

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