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Horton v. Kentucky Bar Association

Supreme Court of Kentucky

March 22, 2018

MELANIE A. F. HORTON MOVANT
v.
KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION RESPONDENT

          OPINION AND ORDER

         Pursuant to SCR 3.480(3), [1] Movant, Melanie A. F. Horton, moves this Court to enter an order permanently disbarring her from the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Horton's Bar Membership Number is 88701 and her bar roster address is P.O. Box 29, Pikeville, Ky., 41502. The Office of Bar Counsel filed a response supporting Horton's motion. '

         For the reasons stated below, we grant Horton's motion requesting permanent disbarment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Horton's motion involves allegations of professional misconduct contained in eight KBA Case files: File 23116, File 23280, File 23504, File 23572, File 23616, File 23656, File 23679, and File 24115.

         File 23116

         In May and June 2014, Horton presented two checks against insufficient funds at her local bank relating to her client trust account, and the bank notified the KBA of the misconduct. The Inquiry Commission sent a letter to Horton concerning the matter, but she failed to respond. As a result of this conduct, Horton was charged with violating SCR 3.130(8.1)(b) (failure to respond to a disciplinary matter); SCR 3.130(8.4)(c) (engaging in dishonesty); and SCR 3.175(1)(a) (failure to inform the KBA of her current address). Horton admits to each of these violations.

         File 23280

         In September 2014, Horton presented four checks against insufficient funds in her client trust account, and the bank notified the KBA. The KBA subpoenaed her bank records which disclosed that checks totaling $249, 128.50 had recently been written from her client trust account principally to cash, herself, her husband, and her child, and another $36, 764.72 had been written on the account for personal expenses. Upon the KBA's inquiry into this report from the bank, Horton failed to respond.

         As a result of this conduct, Horton was cited for violations of SCR 3.130(8.1)(b) (failure to respond to the KBA) and SCR 3.130(8.4)(c) (engaging in dishonesty). Horton admits to each of these violations.

         File 23504

         Russell and Bethel Cures retained Horton to represent them in a personal injury case. Horton did not execute a fee agreement with the Cures, but the Cures agreed to give Horton one-third of any settlement. During the representation the Cures had difficult contacting Horton. The case settled, but Horton failed to pay the Cures the full amounts they were entitled to and, further, withheld funds to pay medical bills which were then not paid. Horton also failed to execute the proper paperwork to perfect the settlement resulting in the filing of a court action against Horton by the insurance company.

         As a result of Horton's conduct in the Cures matter, the KBA filed y charges against Horton alleging violations of SCR 3.130(1.3) (requiring diligent representation of a client); SCR 3.130(1.4)(a)(3) and (4) (requiring an attorney to keep a client informed about the case and to promptly respond to requests for information); SCR 3.130(1.5)(c) (requiring a contingency fee agreement to be written); SCR 3.130(1.15)(b) (requiring the prompt delivery of funds to a client, any funds he is entitled to receive); SCR 3.130(8.1)(b) (failure to respond to the . KBA); and SCR 3.130(8.4)(c) (engaging in dishonesty). Horton admits to each of these violations.

         File 23572

         In December 2014, Horton again presented checks drawn on her client trust accounts against insufficient funds, and the bank notified the KBA of the transaction, and Horton failed to respond to the KBA's inquiries. As a result, the KBA charged Horton with violating SCR 3.130(8. 1)(b) (failure to respond to ...


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