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Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Venter

Supreme Court of Kentucky

June 11, 2015

KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION, MOVANT
v.
REBECCA COX VENTER, RESPONDENT

Released for Publication June 23, 2015.

OPINION

IN SUPREME COURT

OPINION AND ORDER

John D. Minton Jr., CHIEF JUSTICE.

Rebecca Cox Venter was admitted to the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky on October 13, 1995. Her Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) number is 86006 and her bar roster address is 105 Glades Street, Berea, Kentucky 40403. The KBA's Board of Governors considered a total of thirteen charges in three separate files against Venter; all of the counts reached the Board as default cases pursuant to SCR 3.210. Of the thirteen charged counts, the Board found Venter guilty of eleven and not guilty of two. The Board unanimously agreed upon disciplinary action including a 181-day suspension from the practice of law, restitution payments, Kentucky Bar Lawyer's Assistance Program (KYLAP) evaluation and assistance, and that Venter should complete the Ethics and Professional Enhancement Program (EPEP) prior to applying for reinstatement to the practice of law.

Pursuant to SCR 3.370(7), after the Board of Governors files its decision with the Disciplinary Clerk, either Bar Counsel or the Respondent may file with this Court a notice of review. If neither party files a

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notice of review (as is the case here), this Court has two options: 1) under SCR 3.370(8) we may inform Bar Counsel and Respondent that we will review the decision and order the parties to file briefs or 2) under SCR 3.370(9) we may enter an order adopting the decision of the Board. Given the multitude and gravity of Venter's violations and the fact that she has failed to respond to any communication, we exercise our authority under SCR 3.370(9) and adopt the decision of the Board.

I. BACKGROUND

The charges leveled against Venter are broken down into three separate KBA files. Each of these files represents a separate Inquiry Commission Complaint filed against Venter. She failed to file responses to any of the charges.

A. KBA File 22266

The events related to this KBA file involve Venter's commission of several crimes and her failure to appear in court on behalf of a client. First, Venter was charged with (and eventually pled guilty to) the Class B misdemeanor of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs. Almost five months later, she failed to appear in district court on behalf of her client for a pretrial conference. Eight months after that, Venter was charged with public intoxication. A few days after the public intoxication charge, Venter was charged yet again for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. On this occasion, two minor children were accompanying Venter in her car when she struck two other occupied vehicles. As a result of this incident, Venter was also charged with four counts of wanton endangerment, failure to maintain insurance, license not in possession, and leaving the scene of an accident.

Due to Venter's commission of the above-referenced crimes, the Board of Governors unanimously found her guilty of violating SCR 3.130-8.4(b), which provides: " [i]t is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: . . . (b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects." For failing to appear in court on behalf of her client, the Board also found Venter guilty of violating SCR 3.130-1.3 by a vote of 19-1; that rule provides: " A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client." The final count in this KBA file involved Venter's failure to respond to the KBA in this matter in violation of SCR 3.130-8.l(b). That rule provides in pertinent part: " a lawyer in connection with a . . . disciplinary matter, ...


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