July 17, 2011
Cash Handled Improperly, Attorney Indefinitely Suspended
An attorney who had received $1,300 in cash from a client in a criminal matter but had failed to deposit the money or otherwise account for its disposition was indefinitely suspended by the Kansas Supreme Court. The cash was intended to be used for restitution.
The attorney's explanation to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel:
'Occasionally, I will place clients' monies—be that filing fees or diversion fees, or other such fees—into an envelope in their file, rather than to deposit, immediately, those sums into my trust account. This would be one of those instances. (Emphasis added.)'
"On April 14, 2010, the Respondent responded to a letter from the Disciplinary Administrator's office. In the letter, rather than explain where the $1,300.00 went, the Respondent quoted the language...above. The Respondent also stated:
'The investigator seemed skeptical of such an answer at the time; and perhaps he has shared that skepticism with you. In essence, you have a stipulation to the fact that the monies did not ever make it to my trust account at the bank; and you also have the fact that Mr. Corkins's account was provided these monies on the day that Judge Asher directed his inquiry to me. The appearance of impropriety, here, would seem to sustain the filing of your complaint on the basis of what you know, already. Can you elaborate further as to the reason for your communication to me?
'If you find me too evasive, or obtuse, then it is apparent that I need to seek out my attorney to advise me in this matter, sooner, rather than later; and I do respectfully request that I be given time to counsel at length with a disciplinary-complaints experienced attorney who can advise me as to my rights and my options in this matter at this stage of the proceeding. In fact, that attorney might well be able to negotiate and/or give professional input prior to the ultimate filing of the complaint. That is to say in quite a different and clumsy way: He might help write the complaint. Does your office ever approach matters in that fashion, say, via a stipulated complaint? I believe that we can see the potential advantages of such an approach, don't you?'
The court concluded that the misconduct was not an isolated incident (citing the first explanation) and was concerned that the attorney did not appreciate the seriousness of the misconduct.
The attorney made the payment on the client's behalf after a delay. (Mike Frisch)
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