OPINION AND ORDER
Edward Bennett has moved this Court to impose a public
reprimand, subject to conditions, for violations of Supreme
Court Rules ("SCR") 3.130(1.3),  3.130(1.4)(b),
3.l30(1.16)(d),  as charged by the Inquiry Commission. The
Kentucky Bar Association ("KBA") make no objection
because the parties have agreed to a negotiated sanction
under SCR 3.480(2) to resolve this matter. Finding the
agreed-to sanction appropriate, this Court hereby ORDERS
Bennett to be publicly reprimanded for the violations he
committed, subject to the conditions specified in this
Opinion and Order.
spring of 2016, Carlos Adiel-Apolinar retained Bennett to
represent him in his Immigration and Customs Enforcement
("ICE") proceedings, paying him $2, 000. Bennett
told Adiel-Apolinar that he would file the necessary
pleadings and a motion to transfer venue to the Louisville
Hearing Room of the Memphis Immigration Court so that
Adiel-Apolinar would not have to appear for a June 15 hearing
scheduled to take place in Chicago, Illinois. Adiel-Apolinar
relied on what Bennett told him and did not go to the hearing
in Chicago. Bennett completely forgot about the hearing,
however, and did not take any steps to seek transfer of it.
Having failed to show up to the hearing, the Immigration
Judge ordered Adiel-Apolinar removed in absentia.
having posted bond, his bond obligor was served a notice to
deliver him to the ICE Chicago Field Office on July 21, 2016,
for removal. When Adiel-Apolinar notified Bennett of this
development, Bennett replied that he had forgotten about the
court date and was going to file a motion to reopen the case.
Bennett did file a motion to reopen removal proceedings on
July 11, 2016. The Immigration Court denied the motion for
several reasons, including that it did not contain an
affidavit or any other supporting documentation.
filed a second motion to reopen on October 16, 2016. That
motion included Adiel-Apolinar's affidavit, which
Adiel-Apolinar signed even though it was written in English
and he did not understand it. Several weeks later, the
Immigration Court denied the second motion to reopen for
several reasons, including that it was not timely filed.
told Adiel-Apolinar he would have to file an appeal but did
not adequately explain to him why. On December 1, 2016,
Bennett filed an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals
("BIA") seeking to overturn the Immigration
Judge's Order of Removal and reopen the immigration case.
Bennett received a briefing schedule from the BIA notifying
him that his brief was due January 9, 2017. Bennett failed to
calendar the due date for the brief and never filed one.
February 28, 2017, the BIA entered an order affirming the
lower court's Order of Removal. Adiel-Apolinar was
notified by mail that his appeal had been denied because no
brief had been filed. Adiel-Apolinar had been consulting
another attorney, with Bennett's knowledge and
cooperation, since mid-2016. That attorney explained to
Adiel-Apolinar what had happened in his case, and in March of
2017, Adiel-Apolinar terminated Bennett's representation.
Bennett finally refunded the entire $2, 000 fee on October 8,
September 17, 2018, the Inquiry Commission filed a
three-count Charge against Bennett, asserting violations of
SCR 3.130(1.3), 3.130(1.4)(b), and 3.130(1.16)(d), all to
which Bennett has admitted his guilt. Bennett and the KBA now
request this Court to adopt the recommended discipline of a
public reprimand, subject to specified conditions.
Bennett has been publicly reprimanded by this Court before.
In Bennett v. Kentucky Bar Ass'n, the client,
Ortencia Quintara Orozco, retained Bennett to assist her in
obtaining an adjustment of her immigration
status. Because of Bennett's incompetence in
the field of immigration law, however, Orozco's
application was rejected. Orozco then attempted to discuss the
matter with Bennett, but he never spoke with
in the case at hand, Bennett admitted his guilt and
negotiated a sanction with the Office of Bar Counsel under
SCR 3.480. Bennett received only a public reprimand
and was ordered to pay all costs associated with his
considers the recommended discipline in this case appropriate
because it involves some of the same rule violations as
Bennett's earlier disciplinary case. Moreover,
Bennett's conduct in this case appears to have occurred
somewhat contemporaneously with his conduct in his earlier
disciplinary case and while it was pending.
incompetent representation put Adiel-Apolinar at risk of
removal from this country. And, while it can be said that
inexperience in the field of immigration law led to
some of the issues arising in his representation of
Orozco and Adiel-Apolinar, such inexperience cannot be said
to be the sole cause of the issues arising in both cases. For
example, it does not take an expert in the field of
immigration law to adhere to briefing deadlines-Bennett's
failure to file a brief in Adiel-Apolinar's appeal had
nothing to do with his inexperience as an immigration-law
attorney because he received a briefing schedule from the BIA
and failed to calendar the due date, Nevertheless, this Court
finds the agreed-to sanction appropriate in this case. The
KBA attempts to analogize Bennett's case with prior cases
from this Court, all of which we find inapposite. Instead, we
find our sentiment in Teater v. Kentucky Bar
Ass'n to be the most applicable in this case:
We are troubled by Teater's repeated failure properly and
zealously to represent and communicate with his clients.
Based on Teater's unfortunate pattern of misconduct,
including the seeming inefficacy of the two earlier private
reprimands, one could convincingly argue that Teater's
current misconduct warrants imposition of sanctions greater
than a public reprimand. But Teater has acknowledged his
misconduct and has taken steps to rectify matters with his
former clients. Our precedent supports the issuance of a
public reprimand for similar acts of professional misconduct.
And the KBA has agreed to Teater's motion for the
imposition of a public reprimand. So we will grant
has admitted his guilt. His inadequate representation of
Adiel-Apolinar included the missing of court dates, which
Bennett attempted to remedy by filing motions asking the
lower court for relief. Bennett's inadequate
representation additionally did somewhat involve inexperience
with immigration law, which also contributed to his prior
disciplinary proceeding, the conduct in both instances having
apparently overlapped. Unlike in Bennett's earlier
disciplinary case, Bennett will undergo CLE training on
immigration law. Moreover, Bennett has not exhibited the same
pattern of misconduct to the extent that Teater did, which
included four instances of failing properly and zealously to
represent and communicate with clients, and for which this
Court determined a public reprimand to be
appropriate.Finally, the KBA offers no objection to
the proposed discipline.
such, the Court having considered the motion, and, being
otherwise fully and sufficiently advised, ...