SC: October 2016 Attorney Discipline Cases

Fred G. Greene, John Elias Dutra, Jeffrey Owens Moore, Maureen Ann Sullivan, Justin Neal O’Malley

ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE: 

A. Fred G. Greene v. Kentucky Bar Association 

2015-SC-000363-KB October 22, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Greene admitted to violating SCR 3.130(1.15)(a) and SCR 3.130(1.8)(a). He moved the Court under the negotiated sanction rule, SCR 3.480(2), to impose a 181-day suspension with 61 days of the suspension to be probated for one year, conditioned upon Greene incurring no further disciplinary charges within one year from the date of the Court’s order, maintaining his continuing legal education requirements, and paying his membership dues. The KBA did not object to Greene’s motion.

The Court noted that it had rejected a prior negotiated sanction proposed by Greene and agreed to by the KBA in this same disciplinary action and had remanded the case for further consideration. The Court reviewed the underlying facts leading to the disciplinary charges, which involved Greene’s failure to properly maintain his escrow account and borrowing $50,000 from a client, ostensibly to cover the deficiency in his escrow account. Greene admitted to violating both SCR 3.130(1.15)(a) and SCR 3.130(1.8)(a).

The Court also reviewed Greene’s multiple prior disciplinary sanctions for unprofessional conduct, including six separate private admonitions, a public reprimand and a thirty-day suspension. The Court ultimately concluded that the sanction proposed by Greene and agreed to by the KBA was adequate, noting that 7

the sanction period will amount to an actual suspension of 120 days or 4 months. Accordingly, the Court granted Greene’s motion to impose a 180-day suspension with 61 days probated, conditioned upon Greene incurring no further disciplinary charges, maintaining his continuing legal education requirements and paying his membership dues.

B. Kentucky Bar Association v. John Elias Dutra 

2016-SC-000386-KB October 20, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Dutra was charged with two disciplinary violations for failing to deposit an advance fee payment into an escrow account and abandoning his client, failing to return the client’s paperwork, and failing to properly withdraw from a case upon termination of representation. The Inquiry Commission’s charge was sent to Dutra by certified mail but acknowledgement of receipt was never returned. The following month, Dutra moved for a 21-day extension of time to respond to the Commission’s inquiry. His request was granted but no responsive pleading was ever filed.

The Commission ultimately submitted the matter to the Board of Governors as a default case. The Board unanimously found Dutra guilty of each charge and, after considering his prior disciplinary history, recommended that Dutra be suspended from the practice of law for thirty days and that he be required to repay his former client the sum of $1,550. The Board further recommended that Dutra’s suspension be probated for one year if he reimbursed the client within sixty days. The Supreme Court agreed with the Board’s recommendation and sanctioned Dutra accordingly.

C. Kentucky Bar Association v. Jeffrey Owens Moore 

2016-SC-000387-KB October 20, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. The Board of Governors considered two separate files against Moore, one containing a two-count charge and the other a three-count charge. The cases came before the Board as default cases under SCR 3.210 after Moore failed to respond to the charges. The Board unanimously found Moore guilty of all five counts and recommended that he be suspended from the practice of law for one year, to be served consecutively to his suspensions; that he be ordered to repay a loan to a client; that he be ordered to participate and comply with the Kentucky Lawyers Assistance Program; and that he be ordered to pay the costs of this action.

Neither the Office of Bar Counsel or Moore filed a notice of review so the Supreme Court exercised its authority under SCR 3.370(9) and adopted the recommendation of the Board. 8

D. Maureen Ann Sullivan v. Kentucky Bar Association 

2016-SC-000467-KB October 20, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. Sullivan moved the Court to impose a thirty day suspension from the practice of law, to be probated for two years on the condition that she not receive any new charges from the Inquiry Commission during the probationary period. She admitted violating the Rules of Professional Conduct, including SCR 3.130(1.4)(a)(5); SCR 3.130(1.15)(a); SCR 3.130(1.16)(d); SCR 3.130(5.5); and SCR 3.130(8.1)(b).

The KBA did not object to the proposed sanction, which was negotiated under SCR 3.480(2). Upon review of the facts and the relevant case law, the Supreme Court found the proposed discipline appropriate and sanctioned Sullivan accordingly.

E. Justin Neal O’Malley v. Kentucky Bar Association 

2016-SC-000483-KB October 20, 2016 

Opinion and Order of the Court. All sitting; all concur. The charges against O’Malley arose from his failure to repay fees to two clients after he failed to appear for their hearings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. He later admitted that he lacked sufficient funds to repay his clients. He further admitted that he lacked sufficient knowledge in the practice of bankruptcy law and agreed not to file any bankruptcy cases for five years. As a result, he was charged with violating SCR 3.130(1.1) (competency); SCR 3.130(1.16)(d) (duties upon termination of representation); SCR 3.130(3.4)(c) (disobeying an obligation to a tribunal); and SCR 3.130(8.4)(c) (dishonesty).

O’Malley was suspended from the practice of law in Marcy 2015 for thirty days and has not been reinstated. He moved the Supreme Court to impose a 181-day suspension from the practice of law for his admitted violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The KBA did not object to the proposed discipline, which was negotiated under SCR 3.480(2). In agreeing to the sanction, the KBA cited O’Malley’s extensive mitigating evidence, including physical and mental impairments and his cooperation with the Kentucky Lawyers Assistance Program.

Upon review of the facts and the relevant case law, the Court found the proposed discipline to be appropriate and suspended O’Malley from the practice of law for 181 days.