Sunday, February 23, 2020
One of the most useful educational tools in evaluating how a bar discipline regime works is providing public access to oral arguments.
The Kansas Supreme Court provide real time and archived links to all cases argued before it.
A recent argument is linked here.
The case involves a failed romantic relationship between a lawyer and his client. The fall out led to criminal charges filed by the lawyer against the client.
The alleged misconduct occurred at the criminal trial and related to Respondent's violation of a court-ordered sequestration.
One issue is whether paying a client's bail is a per se violation of Rule 1.8(e). Questions whether the court should find the violation (which apparently was uncontested) were raised by the court.
Respondent conceded the conflict of interest, even with respect to providing funds for bail. It is contested whether he knowingly violated a court order.
Kansas has one unusual feature to its arguments in discipline matters - the respondent often addresses the court in person. That did not take place here.
That feature makes the videos a particularly compelling educational tool.
Bar Counsel seeks a suspension of one year with fitness.
Several jurisdictions that score high on transparency - Ohio, Maryland and Illinois (which provides access but does not hear arguments in many bar cases) for example - make easy access to arguments a part of their program.
Among the many benefits, the public sees how judges conduct their business. Recently retired Chief Justice Nuss of the Kansas Supreme Court presided with the calm and thoughtful demeanor associated with the best of appellate judges.
Tennessee recently has provided such access. (Mike Frisch)