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Forbush-Moss v. Kentucky Bar Assn.

Supreme Court of Kentucky

April 2, 2015

BETHANNI FORBUSH-MOSS, MOVANT
v.
KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION, RESPONDENT

Released for Publication April 14, 2015.

John D. Minton Jr., CHIEF JUSTICE. All sitting. All concur.

OPINION

IN SUPREME COURT

OPINION AND ORDER

Bethanni Forbush-Moss[1] (Moss) moves this Court to suspend her from the practice of law for sixty-one days, which suspension shall be probated for two years for the following admitted violations: failure to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information, Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 3.130(1.4)(a)(4); failure to deposit client's refundable funds into an escrow account, SCR 3.130(1.15)(e); failure

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to keep client's property separate from the lawyer's property, SCR 3.130(1.15)(a); and failure to surrender property and fees upon termination, SCR 3.130(1.16)(d).

The Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) states no objection to the proposed discipline, which was negotiated pursuant to SCR 3.480(2). Finding the suspension from the practice of law for sixty-one days, which suspension shall be probated for two years to be the appropriate discipline for her misconduct, we grant Moss's motion.

I. BACKGROUND.

The KBA's Inquiry Commission charged Moss with violating the aforementioned Supreme Court Rules stemming from interactions with her former client, Bill Thomas (Thomas). On April 29, 2013, Thomas retained Moss to represent him in divorce proceedings, and she charged a four thousand dollar retainer to his credit card. Moss did not use a fee agreement or deposit the retainer into an escrow account. On July 3, 2013, Thomas terminated Moss and requested an itemized statement and any refund due. On July 12, 2013, Thomas sent Moss an email reiterating his request. Then on July 16, 2013, Moss replied by email, stating that his statement would be completed by the end of the month, and any refund due would be returned at that time.

Over the next several months, Thomas sent Moss multiple emails seeking a statement and refund of the unearned fee. Moss provided Thomas an itemized statement dated November 30, 2013 but refunded no money. On December 5, 2013, a bar complaint was filed against Moss for failure to turn over a statement or a refund. On December 9, 2013, Moss emailed Thomas to remind him that a voicemail had been left on his provided phone number and that his statement had been mailed the week prior. On December 10, 2013, Moss refunded Thomas the unearned fee totaling $1,701.73.

On December 13, 2013, Moss received the Complaint and filed a response by January 3, 2014. On April 8, 2014, after corresponding with KBA's counsel, Moss received a final letter asking for clarification of Moss's previous answers and the account numbers for her escrow and general operating accounts. The KBA's counsel stated that a failure to respond to questions regarding her escrow account would indicate that Moss did not have one, which would be a violation of Moss's duty to respond to a lawful demand for information during a disciplinary proceeding. Moss responded to KBA's counsel's first two questions but failed to provide her account information.

On May 13, 2014, the KBA's Inquiry Commission charged Moss with five violations ...


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