Friday, July 15, 2022

Hands On Representation Draws Stayed Suspension

The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered a stayed one year suspension and 18 months probation for a defense attorney's representation of an incarcerated client.

Among the stipulated findings

On February 20, 2020, Respondent spoke to Client G.O. prior to the designated court hearing time. During this conversation, Client G.O. was in custody, escorted by two law enforcement officers, and seated in the jury box waiting for his hearing. G.O. was in handcuffs and ankle shackles. The deputies each were equipped with a body camera and audio.

On February 20, 2020, Respondent can be seen on the body camera video of an officer entering the court room and approaching Client G.O. who is cuffed and seated in the jury box.
a. Respondent placed documents on the jury box railing as he talked to Client G.O. about waiving his preliminary hearing and setting a plea date for a plea to criminal threat a felony. Client G.O. did not understand or want to waive his preliminary hearing and did not want to plead to a felony.
b. After a period of time, Respondent can be heard using expletives in his conversation with Client G.O. and appeared to be frustrated and irritated with Client G.O.
c. Client G.O. can be heard on the video stating in part to Respondent, '. . . you should tell me, you work for me, I don't know . . . .'
d. Respondent reached over the jury box railing and touched Client G.O. by grabbing his shoulder/arm to pull him closer to speak in an aggressive fashion.
e. The interaction between Respondent and his client alarmed officers. One officer immediately intervened physically and moved to stand between Respondent and Client G.O. to provide a physical barrier to protect Client G.O. from Respondent. The officer stated to Respondent, 'No, negative, no, step away from him, no, leave, I've had enough, you've cussed him out, you're not allowed to touch him, go out to the hallway and cool down.'

The court

We adopt the findings and conclusions set forth by the parties in the summary submission and at oral argument. A minority of the court, after reviewing the body camera footage, would find that the undisputed evidence does not establish a violation of KRPC 8.4(d) and 8.4(g).

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


Post a comment