January 22, 2010
Suspension For Confidentialty Violations
The former city and county attorney for Wakeeney, Kansas has been suspended for 90 days by the Kansas Supreme Court. He was found to have repeatedly disclosed attorney-client confidential information obtained through his dealings with city and county officials and also to have violated his ethical duties to his organization client. The disclosures were to two individuals and in a newspaper letter to the editor.
According to the court:
The respondent knowingly violated his duty to his client causing actual injury. His conduct was motivated by anger and selfishness. On more than one occasion he publicly revealed confidential information obtained while representing a client. Through his efforts some of this information surfaced in a local newspaper. The respondent through his special prosecuting attorney was able to initiate an inquisition concerning activities of certain city officials. The inquisition was subsequently dismissed by the district court. Within the community of Wakeeney, respondent's client suffered injury and certainly the reputations of some council members were damaged by the misconduct...
The attorney's anger was a result of inquiries into whether he was eligible to participate in a public employee's retirement system. He then disclosed concerns about illegal conduct by the Mayor and the City Administrator, who were his clients. Thereafter, he was removed from participation in the retirement plan. Further confidentiality breaches followed. The Mayor and others filed bar complaints after the Mayor had lost his bid for reelection.
The Disciplinary Administrator had recommended a published censure. A minority of the court would impose greater discipline. (Mike Frisch)
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