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Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Pendleton

Supreme Court of Kentucky

February 19, 2015

KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION, MOVANT
v.
NATHANIEL T. PENDLETON, RESPONDENT

Released for Publication March 3, 2015.

Minton, C.J., Abramson, Cunningham, Keller, Noble and Venters, JJ., sitting. All concur.

OPINION

John D. Minton Jr., C.J.

Page 608

IN SUPREME COURT

OPINION AND ORDER

Respondent, Nathaniel T. Pendleton, KBA Member No 93224, was admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky on October 23, 2009, and his bar roster address is listed as 201 S. Broadway #1, Georgetown, Kentucky, 40324.

In three disciplinary files the Board of Governors (Board) unanimously found Respondent guilty of all counts charged in each file. For these violations the Board recommends by a vote of 17-2 that Respondent be permanently disbarred from the practice of law.

I. BACKGROUND

A. KBA File No. 21818

Respondent was suspended from the practice of law for nonpayment of bar dues on January 23, 2013, and has not been reinstated. Following his suspension, however, Respondent continued to practice law in Fayette and Woodford Counties, during which time he continued to represent clients and make appearances and file court documents on their behalf, including Daniel James Price, Andrew Wiggens, and Justin Lee Chaplin. Following the initiation of the complaint and charges in this file, Respondent failed to respond in any manner.

As a result of the above conduct Respondent was charged with violating SCR 3.130-5.5(a)[1] for practicing law on a suspended license; SCR 3.130-3.4(c)[2] for knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal; and SCR 3.130-8.1(b)[3] for knowingly failing to respond to a lawful demand for information by the KBA.

B. KBA File No. 22616

While his license was suspended, Respondent represented Daniel J. Price in a divorce proceeding in Woodford County and appeared in court on Mr. Price's behalf on February 5, 2013. Further, Respondent failed to communicate with Mr. Price and repeatedly cancelled appointments during the representation. Respondent also failed to file documents with the court in a timely manner. Mr. Price ultimately terminated the attorney-client relationship and requested his file from Respondent;

Page 609

however, Respondent failed to turn over the file or any documentation filed with the Court despite Mr. Price's numerous requests. Following the filing of the complaint and charges in this file, Respondent again failed to respond in any manner.

As a result of the above conduct, Appellant was charged with violating SCR 3.130-1.3[4] for failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client; SCR 3.130-1.4[5] for failing to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of the case and to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; SCR 3.130-1.16(d)[6] for failing to promptly return Mr. Price's file; SCR 3.130-5.5(a) for practicing law in violation of the applicable Supreme Court and KBA rules; and SCR 3.130-8.1(b) for failure to respond to the KBA's lawful demand for information.

C. KBA File No. 22616

Following Respondent's suspension from the practice of law, as noted above, Respondent was retained by Richard Hash to represent him in an uncontested divorce proceeding in Fayette County; however, Respondent never filed the dissolution petition to initiate the proceeding. Despite never having even initiated the proceeding, Respondent gave Mr. Hash an order purportedly granting his divorce, but which was actually an order relating to an entirely different divorce case. In an attempt to further cover-up his improper actions, Respondent later filed a divorce petition in Jessamine County and falsified the petition to reflect that it had been prepared and filed by another attorney. Upon investigation by the Inquiry Commission, the listed attorney advised that she did not file that Jessamine County petition and is not employed with the Pendleton Law Office. Following the filing of the complaint and charges in this file, Respondent failed to respond in any manner.

As a result of the above conduct Respondent was charged with violating SCR 3.130-5.5(a) for practicing law while his license was suspended; SCR 3.130-3.3[7]

Page 610

for making a false statement to a tribunal; SCR 3.130-3.4(b)[8] falsifying a court filing; SCR 3.130-8.1(b) failing to respond to the KBA's request for information; and SCR 3.130-8.4(c)[9] for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.

II. DISCIPLINE

Neither the KBA's Office of Bar Counsel nor Respondent have sought review by the Court under SCR 3.370(7),[10] and this Court declines to undertake review pursuant to SCR 3.370(8).[11] Therefore, the Board's recommendation is hereby adopted pursuant to SCR 3.370(9).[12]

ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED THAT:

1) Respondent, Nathaniel T. Pendleton, KBA Number 93224, 201 S. Broadway #1, Georgetown, Kentucky, 40324, is adjudged guilty of the above-described violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct;

2) Respondent is permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Kentucky;

3) Pursuant to SCR 3.390, Respondent shall, if he has not already done so, within ten (10) days from the entry of this Opinion and Order, notify all clients, in writing, of his inability to represent them; notify, in writing, all courts in which he has matters pending of his suspension from the practice of law; and furnish copies of all letters of notice to the Office of Bar Counsel. Furthermore, to the extent possible, Respondent shall immediately cancel and cease any advertising activities in which he is engaged; and 4) In accordance with SCR 3.450, Respondent is directed to pay all costs associated with these disciplinary proceedings against him, said sum being $693.20 for which execution may issue from this Court upon finality of this Opinion and Order.


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