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Kentucky Bar Association v. Robertson

Supreme Court of Kentucky

June 20, 2013

KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION, MOVANT,
v.
DANIEL KEITH ROBERTSON, RESPONDENT

OPINION AND ORDER

Daniel Keith Robertson, KBA No. 93479, was admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky on April 19, 2010, and his bar roster address is listed as 360 Indian Lake Court, P.O. Box 402, Hawesville, Kentucky, 42348. The Board of Governors (Board) unanimously found Robertson guilty of violating SCR 3.130-1.3, SCR 3.130-1.4(a)(3)&(4), SCR 3.130-1.16(d), and SCR 3.130-8.1(b). For these violations the Board recommends Robertson: 1) be suspended from the practice of law for 181 days, 2) refund all fees to the client, 3) attend the Ethics and Professionalism Enhancement Program (EPEP), 4) be referred to Kentucky Lawyers Assistance Program (KYLAP) and 5) pay all associated costs.

I. BACKGROUND

On May 18, 2012, Jennifer Smith retained Robertson to perform legal work, for which Smith's aunt provided him with a $2, 500 check as a retainer. Thereafter, despite numerous attempts to contact Robertson by phone and text message, Smith was unable to get in touch with him. Robertson also failed to appear for an appointment with Smith on July 11, 2012. Therefore, on July 19, 2012, Smith forwarded a certified letter to Robertson requesting a full refund. Again, Smith received no response. A Bar Complaint was issued against Robertson, and a certified mail return receipt was received bearing what appeared to be his signature, indicating service of the Charge. However, Robertson failed to file an Answer.

II. CHARGE

The Inquiry Commission (Commission) issued a charge against Robertson alleging four counts: 1) Count I charges Robertson with violating SCR 3.13G-1.3, [1] 2) Count II charges Robertson with violating SCR 3.130-1.4(a)(3) and (4), [2] 3) Count III charges Robertson with violating SCR 3.130-1.16(d), [3] and (4) Count IV charges Robertson with violating SCR 3.130-8.1(b).[4]

III. BOARD'S RECOMMENDATION

The Board voted 18 to 0 to find Robertson guilty of all charges, and taking into consideration his prior disciplinary actions, [5] they recommend that he: 1) be suspended from the practice of law for 181 days, 2) refund all fees to the client, 3) attend EPEP, 4) be referred to KYLAP, [6] and 5) pay all associated costs of this proceeding, totaling $218.05.

IV. ADOPTION OF BOARD'S RECOMMENDATION

Pursuant to SCR 3.370(9), [7] this Court adopts the unanimous recommendation of the Board given: 1) the severity of Robertson's violations, 2) his prior disciplinary record, and 3) the fact that he has failed to respond to any prior correspondence. See Kentucky Bar Association v. Cawood, 366 S.W.3d 923 (Ky. 2012) (adopting the Board of Governors recommendation for 181 day suspension for improper handling of client funds and failure to respond to requests for information regarding pending complaints); Kentucky Bar Association v. Adair, 155 S.W.3d 43 (Ky. 2005) (holding that a 181-day suspension was appropriate for failure to communicate with clients, failure to return a retainer fee, and failure to respond to a Bar Complaint). Agreeing that the Board's recommended sanction is appropriate, it is ORDERED that:

1. Roberston is found guilty of the above-described and admitted violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and thus suspended from the practice of law for 181 days; and
2. Robertson will attend, at his expense, the next scheduled EPEP offered by the Office of Bar Counsel (OBC), separate and apart from his fulfillment of any other continuing education requirement, within twelve (12) months after entry of this Court's order approving the motion; and
3. Robertson will not apply for CLE credit of any kind for this program. He will furnish a release and waiver to the OBC to review his records in the CLE department that might otherwise be confidential, such release to continue in effect until one year after he completes EPEP, in order to allow the OBC to verify that he has not reported any such hours to the CLE Commission; and
4. Robertson is ordered to return all unearned fees to Smith; and
5. Robertson is referred to KYLAP and shall make an appointment with them immediately upon the filing of this Order; and
6. In accordance with SCR 3.450, Robertson is directed to pay all costs associated with these disciplinary proceedings against him, said sum being $218.05, for which execution may issue from this Court upon finality of this Opinion and Order.

All sitting. All concur.


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