Friday, May 18, 2012
The Kansas Supreme Court Court has suspended an attorney for one year, primarily for misconduct with respect to his representation of a husband and wife in connection with a fire at their home.
The wife had set the fire for insurance purposes. The attorney represented her in the criminal matter. He also represented the husband in researching whether he could qualify as an "innocent spouse" in the insurance claim.
The court here was quite concerned that he continued to assert in the disciplinary matter that there was no conflict of interest in the multiple representation, particularly in light of the wife's request that certain information not be disclosed to her husband.
The attorney also had billed for a two-hour conference with the county attorney that never occurred. The court rejected his contention that the evidence must be "undisputed" to permit a finding of misconduct. Such an approach would permit an attorney to avoid discipline by adopting a "deny, deny, deny" strategy.
The bill for two-hour conference was caught by a partner who had reviewed the attorney's pre-bill. As a result, the bill was not sent.
The court stated that the dishonest billing conduct was sanctionable "regardless of whether the mark learns of the con...It matters not that [the partner] prevented the lie from reaching its intended target." (Mike Frisch)