Archive for the ‘attorney suspension’ Category

Former Kansas AG Phill Kline is suspended from law practice for at least 3 years

October 22, 2013


Rejecting an attorney discipline administrator’s call for disbarment of a former Kansas attorney general, the state’s supreme court on Friday indefinitely suspended attorney Phill Kline.

Now working as a visiting law professor at Liberty University in Virginia, Kline is expected to be able to continue in his job there even if he does not have a law license, the Kansas City Star reports. He can reapply for bar admission in three years.

Kilne’s lawyer, Thomas Condit, called the 154-page ruling by the state’s top court “not an acceptable result” and said he and his client are exploring their options for further action. Condit said “there was never any deliberate dishonesty” on Kline’s part and said the disciplinary action resulted from “cherry picking” comments that Kline made over a period of more than five years and taking them out of context.

At issue in the case was Kline’s conduct both as AG and Johnson County district attorney concerning investigations of abortion clinics operated by the late George Tiller in Wichita and by Planned Parenthood in Overland Park. Kline accused the two clinics of violating state law concerning abortions and shielding pedophiles by not reporting when underage girls sought abortions. Kline sought medical records.

He brought a criminal case against Planned Parenthood in 2007, which a subsequent AG opted not to pursue. It charged the clinic with falsifying records and providing illegal abortions, reports the Associated Press. Tiller was acquitted by a jury in 2009 on all 19 counts in a misdemeanor case alleging that he illegally performed late-term abortions. The physician was murdered later in 2009 while he was attending church in Wichita with his wife.

Tiller’s lawyer and the forewoman of a Johnson County grand jury investigating Planned Parenthood accused Kline of misleading the court and mishandling evidence, resulting in the legal ethics case against him. Kline has complained that the case was politically motivated, fueled by those who object to his views on abortion.

Although the supreme court did not agree with all of the conclusions of a three-member disciplinary panel, it found that Kline had violated 11 legal ethics rules and what it called a pattern of misconduct with a selfish motive. The supreme court also expressed concern that Kline has not acknowledged his wrongful actions.

Among other misconduct, Kline failed to properly advise a grand jury about applicable law, gave false and misleading information to courts about the handling of patient medical records from abortion clinics and instructed his staff to attach sealed documents to a public filing, in violation of a court order, the supreme court found.

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Former Kansas AG Phill Kline is suspended from law practice for at least 3 years

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Suspended Florence lawyer indicted on federal charges

August 29, 2013

The United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina announced Wednesday that William Rivers, III of Florence has been charged in a three count indictment with Mail Fraud.

The indictment says between October 2006 to November 2012 Rivers and his late law partner John Schurlknight failed to tell clients when their cases had been settled and failed to pay the clients’ medical providers, but instead forged clients’ signatures on releases and kept all of the money received in the clients’ settlement.

Rivers and Schurlknight were partners at the Schurlknight and Rivers Law Firm in Florence, which is no longer in operation.

Rivers was suspended from practicing law by the South Carolina Supreme Court last December following complaints filed by former clients about missing money.

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Suspended Florence lawyer indicted on federal charges

Court: Iowa lawyers overbilled ill Vietnam veteran

June 18, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Lawyers who billed a mentally ill Vietnam War veteran $125 per hour for “services,” such as attending his birthday parties and taking him shopping, will have their licenses suspended for 18 months, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday.
 
Keota law partners Donald Laing and Scott Railsback falsely claimed too many hours for providing conservator services to John KIein over three decades and charged excessive rates for services that didn’t require legal training, the court ruled. The attorneys received $178,000 in excess fees while managing Klein’s assets — even while he complained that they didn’t give him enough money to buy cigarettes and energy drinks.
 
“They turned everything into a profit for themselves,” said Oskaloosa attorney Garold Heslinga, who exposed the excess after suing Laing and Railsback on behalf of Klein in 2008. “They charged him to go visit him on his birthday. They charged him for going to Iowa City to buy presents to give some woman. It was just ridiculous.”
 
He said the discipline should have come “a long time ago,” and now may have little impact. The pair’s former law firm has changed hands, and a secretary said Friday they’ve retired. Their phone numbers were disconnected.
 
Laing was appointed Klein’s conservator in 1974 after Klein inherited valuable farmland and property. Then 24, he did not have a legal guardian at the time. Klein, who had a history of paranoid schizophrenia, depression and substance abuse, later inherited additional land and money worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
 
The court said that Klein’s illness and volatile behavior posed significant and time-consuming challenges for Laing and Railsback, who helped relocate Klein to residential care facilities in California, Colorado and Connecticut. When Klein lived on his own, he had trouble with crime, relationships and money management.
 
Klein, now 63 and living independently in Iowa, admitted that the men were very helpful over the years, even if they were tight-fisted.
 
The court credited Laing and Railsback for assisting Klein in the absence of relatives but found the two ultimately took advantage of the relationship through indefensible charges.
 
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Court: Iowa lawyers overbilled ill Vietnam veteran

TN: Attorney John E. Clemmons Suspended After $50,000 Taken From Disabled Ward

April 16, 2013

A prominent Nashville attorney has been temporarily suspended from the practice of law following the discovery that he paid himself $50,440 from the estate of a ward in a nursing home without the approval of a judge.
The state Supreme Court concluded that allowing John E. Clemmons to continue practicing law “poses a threat of substantial harm to the public.”

Clemmons’ actions came when he was serving as conservator of the Rutherford County man, a legal arrangement overseen by a judge when a person is determined unable to handle their own affairs, often for medical reasons, and an outside person is given that authority.

Clemmons, who has also served as a conservator in cases in Nashville, has been ordered to inform all of his current clients of the suspension and cease any legal representation by May 2. He is barred from taking on any new cases and must return any property in his possession belonging to existing clients.

In its petition to the state Supreme Court, the Board of Professional Responsibility cited the findings of Rutherford County Chancery Court officials who discovered that Clemmons had been making regular payments to himself without submitting a request to the court as required.

The court also found that Clemmons was unable to account for an additional $16,500 expended from the ward’s estate.

The unauthorized payments were in addition to $7,780 in fees which were approved by the court. But even in the approved fees the judge questioned Clemmons request.

“The court was concerned that the conservator sought to recover compensation at the rate of $200 an hour for services which are more appropriately charged by a paralegal or untrained persons at a far less hourly rate,” court records show.

In an affidavit filed along with the complaint, Rutherford County clerk and master John A.W. Bratcher detailed conversations with Clemmons in which the Nashville attorney admitted paying himself without authorization and offered alternative ways he could pay back the money.

“Mr. Clemmons admitted that he did write checks to himself without court approval but that he had two to three proposals on how he can pay the money back,” the affidavit states.

“Mr. Clemmons, the affidavit states, “indicated that he did not wish to be removed as conservator and that he hoped that this would not be reported to anyone else. He said that he was willing to do everything that he could to get the matter corrected.”

Among the repayment plans proposed by Clemmons were the sale of 100 acres of family property in Davidson County and the use of future Social Security benefits earned by he and his wife.

Bratcher recommended that Clemmons be removed immediately and disclosed that he was reporting the matter to District Attorney General Bill Whitesell and the Board of Professional responsibility. Whitesell did not respond to a request for comment.

Chancellor Robert E. Corlew 3rd removed Clemmons as the conservator of Russell Church on March 5 of this year citing the $50,400 in unauthorized payments, the $16,500 in withdrawals “with no explanation” and Clemmons failure to obtain a bond as required by the court.

Corlew ordered that a new conservator, Mark Polk, take immediate steps to seize all the bank and investment accounts of the ward. Polk said Thursday he is still in the process of reviewing the bank and other records of the conservatorship and will be reporting his findings back to the chancery court.

Bratcher said that Clemmons had no additional cases pending in Rutherford Chancery Court. Tim Townsend, spokesman for the Davidson probate court said Judge Randy Kennedy had removed and replaced Clemmons from the four cases in which he was currently serving as a conservator or administrator. He said Kennedy also had appointed another attorney to determine whether Clemmons had any role in any other pending cases involving state Corrections Department inmates..

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Lawyer’s License Suspended After $500,000 Taken From Disabled Client

OH: Warren Lawyer is Suspended for 18 Months

December 3, 2012

The Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday suspended the law license of Warren attorney John H. Large for two years, with the final six months of that term stayed on certain conditions.

The court announced on its website the suspension was for professional misconduct in his dealings with three different clients and for making misrepresentations of fact in seeking reinstatement from a prior disciplinary suspension.

In a 7-0 opinion, the court adopted January findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline that after accepting fee advances from three clients, Large improperly deposited those unearned funds into his law office checking account rather than into a client trust account as required by state disciplinary rules.

The board forwarded to the Supreme Court seven aggravating factors against Large, including his prior one-year suspension for failing to pay income taxes and report employee wages in 2009 and testimony that the board said lacked truthfulness during his hearing. The previous one-year suspension followed a federal court case in which Large was found guilty of failing to pay the taxes from 2000 to 2004. He was sentenced to four years probation, six months in a halfway house, six months house arrest and ordered to pay $88,000 in restitution.

The board cited selfish motives when Large filed a divorce action for a woman in Lake County after she had fired him and after he received a $2,000 retainer. Large attempted to continue the relationship despite the client’s desire to terminate, according to a report.

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Warren Lawyer is Suspended for 18 Months

State Bar notifies judges of attorney Kip Lamb’s suspension

September 28, 2012

The Commission for Lawyer Discipline, an arm of the State Bar of Texas, recently filed a letter notifying Jefferson County district judges of the suspension of Beaumont attorney Kip Lamb.

As previously reported, the petition to suspend the attorney’s practice was filed July 10 in Jefferson County District Court.

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, granted the petition on July 25, court records show.

On Sept. 6 the commission filed a letter, asking District Clerk Lolita Ramos to disseminate the information to the Jefferson County District Judges.

According to the petition, on April 14, 2008, Lamb received $1,094,611.02 into his trust account as his client’s (New Life Tabernacle Church) portion of a settlement.

Lamb later transferred the funds to other bank accounts for his own personal use and his law firm’s use, the petition states.

“In this case, (Lamb’s) conduct is unbecoming of a lawyer and will unquestionably place any client or prospective client at risk … of having their settlement misappropriated,” the petition states.

“Accordingly, (Lamb) must be suspended from the practice of law pending a final disposition of the disciplinary proceedings currently pending against him.”

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State Bar notifies judges of attorney Kip Lamb’s suspension