Released for Publication April 14, 2015.
Minton, C.J.; Abramson, Cunningham, Keller, Noble and Venters, JJ., concur. Barber, J., not sitting.
IN SUPREME COURT
OPINION AND ORDER
John D. Minton Jr., CHIEF JUSTICE.
The Board of Governors (the Board) of the Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) recommends this Court suspend Clyde F. Johnson (Johnson) from the practice of law for five (5) years; and that we order Johnson to make full restitution to his clients in the matters before this Court. Finding sufficient cause to do so, we adopt the Board's recommendations. Johnson, whose KBA number is 84172 and whose bar address is 181 East Court Street, P.O. Box 763, Prestonsburg, Kentucky 41653-0763, was admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky on October 17, 1991.
A. Procedural History and Charges.
The Board's recommendation stems from three separate charges, all of which involve Johnson's failure to perform any legal work for clients after entering into retainer agreements and taking retainer fees. At the outset, we note that, on June 24, 2013, Johnson absconded from Floyd County, Kentucky where he resided and practiced law. The Kentucky State Police designated Johnson as a missing person, and the Floyd Circuit Court appointed a curator for Johnson's practice. The curator filed a report in response to one of the charges, KBA File 22172, stating that he believes " Clyde Johnson is alive, voluntarily left and has taken measures to conceal his whereabouts." It appears from a newspaper article in the record that Johnson has absconded to Texas. Johnson has not filed any responses to the charges.
1. KBA File No. 22172.
On February 20, 2014, the Inquiry Commission filed a one-count charge against Johnson for violation of SCR 3.130-1.16(d) which states in pertinent part, " [u]pon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client . . . and refunding any advance payment of fee or expense that has not been earned or incurred."
This charge arose from Johnson's representation of two clients in a quiet title action. On May 15, 2013, the clients executed a retainer agreement and paid Johnson an initial consultation fee of $150 and a $1,500 retainer fee. Johnson disappeared on June 24, 2013, without having performed any legal work and without having refunded the retainer fee. The clients filed a complaint with the KBA, which the KBA forwarded to Johnson. When Johnson did not respond, the Inquiry Commission filed the above referenced charge, which it unsuccessfully attempted to serve on Johnson. Therefore, the Commission served the Executive Director of the KBA pursuant to SCR 3.175(2). Johnson has not responded to the charge.
2. KBA File No. 22232.
On January 17, 2014, the Inquiry Commission filed a three count charge against Johnson for violating: (1) SCR 3.130-1.3 which states, " [a] lawyer shall act with ...