OPINION AND ORDER
Joseph Baron Hammons, was admitted to the practice of law in
the Commonwealth of Kentucky on May 1, 2010. His Kentucky Bar
Association (KBA) number is 94674, and his bar roster address
is 100 Westwood Dr., Flat Lick, KY 40935-6170.
to SCR 3.480(2), Hammons moves this Court to enter a
negotiated sanction imposing a 181-day suspension, with 30
days to serve and the balance probated with conditions, for
violations of the Supreme Court Rules (SCR) as charged in KBA
Files 23492 and 23807. The KBA has no objection to the
negotiated sanction and requests the Court to grant
Prewitt hired Hammons and paid him $1, 300 to represent him
in a pending lawsuit Prewitt had filed against his brother.
Hammons' fee was to be $100 per month and $300 per court
appearance. Hammons made one court appearance to argue a
summary judgment motion on behalf of Prewitt, but the motion
was unsuccessful. Summary judgment against Prewitt was
entered on December 30, 2014.
the adverse judgment, Hammons sent Prewitt a bill reflecting
that he had billed him for seventeen months of work covering
the period of September 2013 through January 2015; however,
other than the one court appearance, that should have carried
a $300 fee, no other work was performed. Hammons' cover
letter indicated Prewitt's file was enclosed; however,
the entire file was not provided.
asked by the Office of Bar Counsel about what he had sent
Prewitt, among other things, Hammons provided a copy of a
photo of an envelope addressed to Prewitt that had been
postmarked and bar coded. The return address on the envelope
was not Hammons', but Hammons said the photo of the
envelope was to "show where I mailed him the letter with
the bill for services." He said the copy was made at the
post office. In fact, the envelope was mailed to Prewitt on
November 6, 2014, by attorney Brandon Cartwright, one of the
other attorneys who represented him during his lawsuit
against his brother. The envelope had originally contained a
copy of Cartwright's Motion to Withdraw.
admits that his conduct as described above violated SCR
3.l30(l.5)(a), which prohibits the charging, or collection
of, an unreasonable fee; SCR 3.l30(l.l6)(d), which requires
the return of papers and property to which the client is
entitled upon termination of the representation; and SCR
3.130(8.1)(a), which provides that an attorney shall not
"knowingly make a false statement of material fact"
during a disciplinary investigation.
represented Justin Asher in a criminal case in Knox County.
An Agreed Order was entered on December 31, 2014, that
appeared to be signed by Judge John P. Chappell and Assistant
Knox County Attorney Chris Mills. Both denied signing this
Order. The Order purported to modify Asher's bond from
the terms set on November 23, 2014, at $750 full cash, with
three days jail credit, to a $5, 000 third-party surety bond.
Subsequently, on December 31, 2014, a Bond Assignment was
entered assigning Asher's bond to Hammons. As a result, a
check was issued to Hammons in the amount of $450.
states he does not recall signing the names to the order, but
he acknowledges that at the time he was suffering heavily
from an addiction to prescription medications, which impairs
his memory from events occurring during this period.
Nevertheless, Hammons acknowledges that he benefitted
financially from the order and understands that evidence of
his involvement in the forgery, whether he perpetrated it or
not, is strong. For that reason, Hammons acknowledges that
his conduct violated SCR 3.l30(8.4)(c), which provides that
it is misconduct for a lawyer to "engage in conduct
involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or
noted, Hammons admits he engaged in the above conduct and
violated the listed ethical rules. Therefore, we agree with
the parties that Hammons's conduct amounted to violations
of the charged counts of professional misconduct.
parties agree the appropriate sanction for these ethical
violations is a negotiated sanction imposing a 181-day
suspension, with 30 days to serve and the balance probated
with conditions. As noted by Bar Counsel, this sanction is
supported by the discipline imposed for similar violations in
Brady v. Kentucky Bar Assn., 377 S.W.3d 549
(Ky. 2012), and Kentucky Bar Assn. v.
Womack, 269 S.W.3d 406 (Ky. 2008). In our agreement
with this discipline, we further note that Hammons'
conduct was associated, in part, with a substance abuse
problem, and we credit Bar Counsel's representation that
has agreed to a stringent Supervision Agreement, the
particulars of which he worked closely with the KYLAP
Director to reach. That process has taken a considerable
amount of time, as is evident by Movant's signature date
on his motion. This agreement had to be part of any
consensual resolution and, the KBA submits, adds a greater
level of assurance that the public will be protected when and
if Movant is able to return to the practice of law. His
willingness to enter into this agreement also ...