ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE: SCOKY for September 2009 (dtd in Oct. 1 2009 minutes)

A. Kentucky Bar Association v. Patrick Edward Moeves
2009-SC-000270-KB October 1, 2009

Attorney was ordered to show cause why the Court should not impose reciprocal discipline after the Ohio Supreme Court prohibited the attorney from appearing pro hac vice in that state for two years. The Ohio Supreme Court determined that the attorney and his firm entered into an agreement with a non-accredited consumer debt counseling agency to represent people whose homes were in foreclosure. Generally, the agency would attempt to negotiate a settlement with the lender while the attorney would file boilerplate pleadings and motions with the court. In the event of a judgment for the lender, the law firm would send a form letter advising the client to contact a bankruptcy attorney. No alternate remedies were considered, and the firm never actually met with the client. The Ohio Supreme Court determined the attorney violated numerous ethical rules, including aiding non-lawyers in the unauthorized practice of law, sharing legal fees with non-lawyers, forming a partnership with nonlawyers and handling legal matters without adequate preparation. The attorney argued that he should not be given a two-year suspension in Kentucky since that was not the equivalent of a two year injunction against pro hac vice practice in Ohio. The Kentucky Supreme Court agreed, noting that the other members of attorney’s firm who were licensed in Ohio had received a public reprimand and a conditionally discharged one year suspension, respectively. Accordingly, the Court imposed a one year suspension, conditionally discharged for two years. Justice Venters not sitting./

B. Bruce A. Smith v. Kentucky Bar Association
2009-SC-000336-KB October 1, 2009

The Supreme Court restores attorney’s license to practice law. The attorney had previously voluntarily withdrawn from the Kentucky bar in 2005.

C. Julia Belle Langerak v. Kentucky Bar Association
2009-SC-000372-KB October 1, 2009

The Supreme Court ordered attorney reinstated to the practice of law. The attorney had previously been suspended for non-payment of KBA dues.

D. Kentucky Bar Association v. Joseph A. Yocum
2009-SC-000403-KB October 1, 2009

Attorney, appearing pro hac vice in a Kentucky workers’ compensation case, was determined by the ALJ to have filed medical report forms with the court which were completed by the attorney rather than physicians as required. At the ALJ’s request, the attorney produced his out-of-state certification form, from which the ALJ determined that the attorney had filed the petition months before being certified by the KBA. After the ALJ entered an order finding the attorney had committed workers’ compensation fraud, the attorney’s local co-counsel (required for pro hac vice practice under SCR 3.030(2)) withdrew from the case. Despite this, the attorney continued to file motions and pleadings in the case. The attorney attributed the Inquiry Commission’s subsequent charges against him to the KBA’s bias against Indiana attorneys.

The Supreme Court adopted the trial commissioner’s finding that Yocum was guilty of unlawfully altering a document that had evidentiary value (SCR 3.130-3.49(a)), engaging in the unauthorized practice of law (SCR 3.130-5.5(a)), and engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation (SCR 3.130-8.4). The Court ordered the attorney prohibited from seeking permission to practice law in Kentucky for 120 days. Justice Schroder concurred in result only and would have suspended the attorney for one year. Justice Venters not sitting.

E. Jacqueline L. Chauvin v. Kentucky Bar Association
2009-SC-000404-KB October 1, 2009

The Court granted attorney’s motion for a five year suspension from the practice of law, resolving five separate KBA files representing 23 charged violations. The attorney admitted to multiple instances of failing to act with due diligence, failing to communicate with clients, failing to return unearned fees, conduct involving fraud deceit, dishonesty or misrepresentation, failing to expedite her clients’ cases and failing to respond to a disciplinary authority, among other charges. In addition to the suspension, the attorney was ordered to participate in a supervision agreement with KYLAP and to reimburse her former clients. Justice Venters not sitting.

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