December 3, 2012
Bar Counsel Chided By Kentucky Supreme Court
With pointedly admonitory language to Bar Counsel, the Kentucky Supreme Court imposed a suspension of 181 days of an attorney who had failed to appear in courts on behalf of himself and others.
The court's concerns were procedural in nature and related to Bar Counsel's approach:
While KBA disciplinary proceedings are frequently treated as prosecutorial in nature, they are not criminal proceedings. Rather, they are civil disciplinary matters carried out by an agency of this Court. Bar Counsel seems to conflate disciplinary proceedings with criminal plea bargains or guilty pleas, or civil settlement agreements, whereby the judge maintains a role throughout the negotiation process, including approval of the parties' agreement. We caution Bar Counsel not to conflate a Trial Commissioner with a trial court, nor Bar Counsel with a prosecutor. While there are some similarities, the rules indicate neither is identical in function or authority.
We need not remind Bar Counsel that it is the province of this Court, not Bar Counsel, to interpret its own rules.
Notwithstanding its procedural concerns, the court found that the disposition was not "patently unfair" and ended three years of ongoing investigations. (Mike Frisch)
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