Dec. 2013 Attorney Disciplinary Decisions from Kentucky Supreme Court

ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE FROM DEC. 2013 included – misconduct for attorney enter settlement agreement with complainant on disciplinary matter limiting complainant’s cooperation with the bar (question. does this have some applicability to confidentiality agreements too?);  reciprocal punishment for disciplinary action in another state; bad response by attorney suspended in not notifying client’s and keeping office open;  30 day suspension conditioned on ethics course.

A. Kentucky Bar Association v. Unnamed Attorney 

2012-SC-000388-KB December 19, 2013 

Opinion of the Court. All sitting. Minton, C.J.; Keller, Noble and Venters, JJ., concur. Abramson, J., concurs by separate opinions. Scott, J., concurs in part and dissents in part by separate opinion in which Cunningham, J., joins.

During the court of Unnamed Attorney’s representation of a fellow attorney in a disciplinary matter, Unnamed Attorney negotiated a settlement between his client and the complaining party. The terms of the negotiated settlement resulted in charges of professional misconduct against Unnamed Attorney because the terms of the settlement agreement required the complaining party to refuse to cooperate voluntarily with the Kentucky Bar Association in any investigation into the matter. The Trial Commissioner adjudged Unnamed Attorney guilty of professional misconduct for entering into such an agreement with a witness but the KBA Board of Governors overturned that determination on appeal. Neither party appealed but the Court exercised its discretion to review under SCR 3.370(8). On review, the Court reversed, in part, and affirmed, in part, the decision of the Board of Governors, finding Unnamed Attorney guilty of violating SCR 3.130-3.4(g) but not guilty of violating SCR 3.130-3.4(a) and issuing a private reprimand.

B. Kentucky Bar Association v. George W. Woodcock, Jr. 

2013-SC-000436-KB December 19, 2013 

Opinion of the Court. All sitting; all concur.

Woodcock was suspended from the practice of law in Illinois for a period of six months. He promptly notified the Court of his suspension. Upon the KBA’s motion, the Court issued an order requiring Woodcock to show cause why identical reciprocal discipline against him should not be imposed in Kentucky under Supreme Court Rule 3.45. The Court found that Woodcock’s misconduct warranted the imposition of the same discipline and retroactively suspended him from the practice of law for a period of six months, effective as of the date of his suspension in Illinois.

C. Kentucky Bar Association v. D. Anthony Brinker 

2013-SC-000591-KB December 19, 2013 

Opinion of the Court. Minton, C.J.; Abramson, Cunningham, Noble, Scott and Venters, JJ., concur. Keller, J., not sitting.

The Board of Governors recommended that the Court publicly reprimand Brinker for violating Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 3.130-8.1(b) (knowingly failing to respond to a lawful demand for information from an admissions or disciplinary authority). Brinker was suspended from the practice of law in October 2010 for violating a Supreme Court Order requiring him to pay a fine for failing to comply with CLE requirements. As a result, Brinker had 10 days to notify all clients and courts in which he had pending cases of his suspension. Brinker sent the notices, albeit outside of the 10- day time period. Thereafter, a judge mailed a Notice to Dismiss for Failure to Prosecute to Brinker in a case in which he was counsel of record. In April 2012, Brinker filed a court pleading styled “Motion to Maintain Action,” wherein he explained that he had been temporarily suspended from the practice of law and that arrangements were being made for a successor attorney to take over the case. The judge contacted the Office of Bar Counsel, expressing concern that Brinker continued to show his law office as his address and that he did not believe that Brinker had notified either opposing counsel or the client of his suspension. An Inquiry Commission complaint was served on Brinker, who failed to respond. The Board of Governors found Brinker guilty of violating SCR 3.130-8.1(b) and, taking into account Brinker’s prior discipline and the applicable law, recommended that the Court publicly reprimand Brinker for his misconduct. The Court agreed with the recommendation and publicly reprimanded Brinker.

D. F.J. Anderson v. Kentucky Bar Association 

2013-SC-000722-KB December 19, 2013 

Opinion of the Court. All sitting; all concur.

Anderson moved the Court to enter an Order resolving the pending disciplinary proceedings against him by suspending him from the practice of law for 30 days, with the condition that he attend a remedial ethics program offered by the Office of Bar Counsel. The motion was the result of a negotiated agreement with the Office of Bar Counsel. As part of the agreement, Anderson admitted violating SCR 3.130-3.1 and SCR 3.130-1.7(a). The Court found Anderson guilty of violating the Rules of Professional Conduct and suspended him from the practice of law for 30 days.