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Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Benton

Supreme Court of Kentucky

October 23, 2014

KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION, MOVANT
v.
JOHN SCOTT BENTON, RESPONDENT

JOHN D. MINTON, JR., CHIEF JUSTICE. All sitting. All concur.

IN SUPREME COURT

OPINION AND ORDER

John D. Minton, Jr. CHIEF JUSTICE

The Board of Governors of the Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) has recommended that John Scott Benton be found guilty of two counts of misconduct and be suspended from the practice of law for 181 days and be referred to the Kentucky Lawyer Assistance Program (hereinafter " KYLAP" ).

Benton was admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky on October 11, 2002; his KBA member number is 89449; his bar roster address is 201 Price Road, #205, Lexington, Kentucky 40511.

KBA Case No. 19824 arises from a guilty plea entered by Benton in Fayette Circuit Court on February 17, 2012, to one count of second-degree wanton endangerment (reduced from an original felony count of first-degree wanton endangerment) and one count of fourth-degree assault, both of which are Class A misdemeanors. The charges relate to an altercation between Benton and his then girlfriend that occurred around 2:00 a.m. on May 14, 2011, near the corner of Short and Market Streets in Lexington. After Benton reportedly quickly and aggressively accelerated his car toward the victim, he exited his vehicle brandishing a semiautomatic handgun. According to witnesses, Benton then struck the victim in the head with either the pistol or a closed fist, knocking her unconscious.[1] Benton

Page 605

was sentenced to 12 month terms of imprisonment for both counts, to run concurrently, with the sentence probated for two years subject to various conditions, including that he be assessed for substance abuse and complete any recommended treatment, submit to physical examination and random drug testing, and continue with his recovery program.

On May 31, 2012, the Inquiry Commission filed a complaint pursuant to SCR 3.160(2), and Benton's counsel filed a response.[2]

On April 12, 2013, Probation Officer James Hamblin filed an affidavit with the circuit court stating that Benton had violated probation conditions by testing positive for marijuana, and requesting that his probation be revoked. The court found that Benton violated the conditions of his probation, but permitted him to continue probation under the same conditions. Benton was, however, required to serve two weekends at the Fayette County Detention Center for the violation.

On July 3, 2013, Officer Hamblin filed another affidavit stating that Benton had violated the conditions of probation by failing to report to his probation officer as directed, which Benton admitted was the result of having resumed using marijuana. Officer Hamblin again requested revocation, but the court allowed probation to continue with the same conditions while adding the requirement that, on August 16, 2013, Benton enter and complete the Hope Center Program.

On October 2, 2013, Officer Hamblin again filed an affidavit seeking revocation of Benton's probation for additional violations, including failure to complete the Hope Center Program due to discharge for noncompliance, failure to report an arrest to his probation officer,[3] and absconding probation supervision. Benton's whereabouts at that time were unknown.

On January 9, 2014, the Inquiry Commission issued a one-count charge of professional misconduct against Benton, alleging ...


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