Thursday, August 29, 2013

Former Kentucky Bar President Reprimanded

The reports that a former president of the Kentucky Bar Association has been reprimanded:

The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday publicly reprimanded a former Kentucky Bar Association president for “brazen misrepresentations” it said harmed the integrity of that office, and for conflicts of interest in the Northern Kentucky priest-abuse litigation.

Barbara D. Bonar, whose yearlong term as KBA president ended in July 2009, agreed to the sanction to avoid the possibility of a suspension or disbarment.

Bonar admitted that she made a “series of misrepresentations” when she falsely claimed she had removed four members from the KBA’s ethics committee because she thought their terms had expired, according to the order.

In fact, none of their terms had expired, and all four had ties to Cincinnati lawyer Stan Chesley, whose firm Bonar sued unsuccessfully for fees in the Diocese of Covington case.

The order says Bonar falsely claimed not to have a list showing when the terms expired. It also says Bonar claimed she’d removed one bar member because she had been told that person was untrustworthy.

Bonar, who practices in Covington, did not respond to a phone call and an email.

In a 6-0 opinion, the court said Bonar’s misconduct as bar president was unprecedented and “deeply troubling.”

Bonar told The Courier-Journal in 2008 that she had replaced the committee members to achieve greater “diversity.”

The court said that Bonar‘s misconduct in the diocese case was more serious, but that it didn‘t result in any financial harm to members of the class who sued the Church.

The newspaper reported in October 2008 that Bonar tried to block the $84 million settlement of that case so she could extract a larger fee for herself.

Affidavits in her disciplinary case showed that Bonar, working behind the scenes, helped write an objection to the settlement for a former client and tried to drum up negative news stories to derail it — even though she had been a lead lawyer for the 380 victims.

Bonar sued Chesley’s firm for half of the $18.5 million in attorneys’ fees ordered in the case but a judge said she wasn’t entitled to anything because she had committed numerous ethical violations.

Chesley was disbarred in March for taking an excessive fee — $7.6 million more than he was owed — in Kentucky’s fen-phen case.

The KBA hired an outside lawyer to investigate Bonar but refused to make public his report or disclose how much he was paid to produce it.

Bonar is the second former bar president to be sanctioned after leaving office.

Steve Catron, who was president in 2003, was permanently disbarred for mishandling more than $500,000 in public funds in Bowling Green, where he practiced.

The court order is linked here. (Mike Frisch)

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Does anyone besides me think this was too light?

Posted by: Rick Underwood | Sep 1, 2013 2:53:27 PM

In response to Rick's question, I think that the sanction is a pathetic and wholly inadequate response to the attorney's misuse of office and other ethical violations.

Posted by: Mike Frisch | Sep 2, 2013 5:43:29 AM

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