SC: December 2016 Attorney Discipline Cases

Madison Sewell; Christina Rose Edmonson; David Thomas Sparks; Parker Lee Clifton; Robert Hansford Hoskins; Delbert Keith Pruitt; Jason Elias Dutra; Genon Ginn Hensley; James Neal Tilson; Brian Thomas Canupp; Jeremy Joseph Gubin

  • Click here for the Kentucky Court Report’s index of each month’s summary by year and month.
  • Click here for the Kentucky Court Report’s index of each month’s minutes of all decisions by year and month.
  • Click here for Kentucky Court Report’s index of attorney discipline cases
  • Click here for grants of MDR (motions for discretionary review)

ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE: 

A. In re: Madison Sewell 

2016-SC-000355-CF December 15, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Sewell tendered an application for admission to the Kentucky Bar without examination, relying on the provision in SCR 2.110 that allows for admission without examination for persons who have been admitted to practice law in another jurisdiction and are actively engaged in the teaching of the law. The Office of Bar Admissions denied his application, noting that Sewell’s employment as a high school pre-law teacher did not satisfy the requirements of the rule. The Supreme Court held that the nature of Sewell’s current employment was irrelevant because SCR 2.110 was inapplicable. Sewell had not practiced law for the requisite time period in a state that has reciprocity with Kentucky. Therefore, his application was untimely and was denied.

B. Kentucky Bar Association v. Christina Rose Edmonson 

2016-SC-000388-KB December 15, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. The charges against Edmondson arose from her failure to respond to discovery in a breach of contract case and her failure to file suit in a loan dispute. The Board noted that Edmondson had previously been suspended for failure to pay bar dues and comply with CLE requirements, a suspension that was ongoing; had been suspended for 180 days for failing to follow through with representation in other cases, which was also ongoing; and had not responded to the current charges. Therefore, the Board recommended that Edmondson be suspended for 181 days to be served concurrently with her 180 day suspension. The Court, noting that the current charges arose during the same time period as Edmondson’s prior charges, agreed with the Board and suspended Edmondson for 181 days to run concurrently with her 180 day suspension.

C. Kentucky Bar Association v. David Thomas Sparks 

2015-SC-000425-KB December 15, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. The Supreme Court entered an order suspending Sparks for 181 days, with 61 days to serve and the remainder probated for two years, with conditions. The Office of Bar Counsel moved to revoke probation and impose the remainder of the suspension because Sparks violated several conditions. Specifically, Sparks received new disciplinary 11

charges and failed to attend required ethics and business-management courses or establish an IOLTA account. Sparks was ordered to show cause why his probation should not be revoked but he failed to respond. Accordingly, the Court granted the Office of Bar Counsel’s motion and suspended Sparks for the remaining 120 days previously probated.

D. Kentucky Bar Association v. Parker Lee Clifton 

2016-SC-000476-KB December 15, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Clifton was publicly reprimanded by the Supreme Court of Ohio for misconduct in a probate matter in Ohio. The Kentucky Bar Association’s Office of Bar Counsel filed a petition for reciprocal discipline under SCR 3.435. Seeing no reason why Clifton should not be subjected to identical discipline in Kentucky, the Supreme Court granted the petition and publicly reprimanded him.

E. Kentucky Bar Association v. Robert Hansford Hoskins 

2016-SC-000477-KB December 15, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Hoskins’ license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely, subject to reinstatement by the Supreme Court of Ohio, due to his misconduct and violation of multiple ethics rules in several cases. The Kentucky Bar Association’s Office of Bar Counsel filed a petition for reciprocal discipline under SCR 3.435. The Supreme Court noted that it does not ordinarily impose indefinite suspensions unless an attorney fails to answer a charge. In this case, Hoskins did answer the charges in Ohio but failed to participate in the proceedings in Kentucky. Nevertheless, the Court held that there was no reason why Hoskins should not be subjected to identical discipline in Kentucky and suspended him indefinitely.

F. Kentucky Bar Association v. Delbert Keith Pruitt 

2016-SC-000487-KB December 15, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Pruitt was charged with several counts of misconduct relating to his representation of a client in a felony case. Specifically, the Inquiry Commission charged Pruitt with failing to act with reasonable diligence in representing his client; failing to keep his client updated about her case and failing to respond to her requests for information; failing to timely return any unearned portion of a fee upon termination; and failing to response to the bar complaint. The matter was eventually submitted to the Board of Governors as a default case under SCR 3.201(1). A majority of the Board found Pruitt guilty of all four charges. After considering Pruitt’s disciplinary history and his lack of interest in defending himself against the current charge, the Board recommended a 61-day suspension.

Neither the Office of Bar Counsel nor Pruitt sought review by the Court under SCR 3.370(7) and the Court declined to undertake review under SCR 3.370(8). 12

Accordingly, the Court adopted the Board’s decision in full and suspended Pruitt from the practice of law for 61 days.

G. Kentucky Bar Association v. Jason Elias Dutra 

2016-SC-00490-KB December 15, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Dutra was found guilty of nine counts of misconduct in three separate disciplinary files. All of the charges related to mishandling of client funds. Dutra never filed answers to the charges and the matter was eventually submitted to the Board of Governors as a default case under SCR 3.210. The Board unanimously found Dutra guilty of all counts and, after considering his discipline history, recommended permanent disbarment. Neither the Office of Bar Counsel nor Dutra sought review and the Court declined to undertake review. Accordingly, the Court adopted the Board’s decision in full and permanently disbarred Dutra from the practice of law in Kentucky.

H. Kentucky Bar Association v. Genon Ginn Hensley 

2016-SC-000491-KB December 15, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Hensley was charged with several counts of misconduct stemming from four separate disciplinary files. The charges against Hensley arose from a misdemeanor conviction for failing to maintain automobile liability insurance and from three separate instances of failing to properly represent clients in bankruptcy matters. Hensley was served with all of the charges via certified mail but did not file an answer in any of the four cases. The Board of Governor voted to find Hensley guilty of all but one count and, after considering her history of discipline, a majority voted to recommend that Hensley be suspended from the practice of law for 181 days.

Neither the KBA’s Office of Bar Counsel nor Hensley sought review by the Supreme Court under SCR 3.370(7) and the Court declined to undertake review under SCR 3.370(8). Accordingly, the Board’s recommendation was adopted under SCR 3.370(9) and Hensley was suspended from the practice of law for 181 days.

I. Kentucky Bar Association v. James Neal Tilson 

2016-SC-000532-KB December 15, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Tilson was suspended from the practice of law in Arizona for three years and the Kentucky Supreme Court imposed identical reciprocal discipline. Shortly thereafter, additional disciplinary proceedings against Tilson resulted in his permanent disbarment in Arizona. The Kentucky Bar Association’s Office of Bar Counsel filed a petition for reciprocal discipline under SCR 3.435. Seeing no reason why Tilson should not be subjected to identical discipline in Kentucky, the Supreme Court granted the KBA’s petition and permanent disbarred Tilson from the practice of law. 13

J. Brian Thomas Canupp v. Kentucky Bar Association 

2016-SC-000623-KB December 15, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Canupp asked the Court to enter an order resolving the pending disciplinary proceeding against him by imposing a public reprimand. The charges against Canupp arose from his representation of a client in a wrongful death matter. Canupp admitted that his conduct violated the disciplinary rules as alleged in the charge. He reached an agreement with the Office of Bar Counsel to resolve this matter and asked the Court to enter an order in conformity with their negotiations. The Office of Bar Counsel did not object to Canupp’s motion. After reviewing the allegations, the admitted facts, comparable cases, and Canupp’s previous disciplinary record, the Court concluded that the proposed sanction was appropriate and publicly reprimanded Canupp.

K. Jeremy Joseph Gubin v. Kentucky Bar Association 

2016-SC-000624-KB December 15, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Gubin was arrested and charged with felony first-degree possession of a controlled substance. He pled guilty and was sentenced to three years of supervised diversion and several conditions, including the condition that he not practice law during the period of diversion. Based on his conviction, Gubin was charged by the Inquiry Commission with having violated SCR 3.130-8.4(b), which state 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. Gubin admitted that his conduct violated the rule and reached an agreement with the Office of Bar Counsel to resolve this matter. He petitioned the Supreme Court to enter an order in conformity with the negotiated sanction, which would suspend him from the practice of law for a period of three years and require him to maintain participation in KYLAP and remain illegal-drug and alcohol free during his suspension. The Office of Bar Counsel did not object to Gubin’s motion and asked that it be granted. After reviewing the allegations, the admitted facts, the comparable cases and Gubin’s previous disciplinary history, the Court concluded that the negotiated sanction was adequate and suspended Gubin from the practice of law for three years, with conditions.