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Kentucky Reprimands Attorney Who Negotiated For Withdrawal of Ethics Complaint

KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION v. UNNAMED ATTORNEY, No. 2012–SC–000388–KB., December 19, 2013 – KY Supreme Court | FindLaw.

The Supreme Court of Kentucky has issued a private reprimand to an “Unnamed Attorney” as a result of that attorney’s conduct in settling a case. Specifically, the Kentucky Supreme Court found that Unnamed Attorney was retained to represent another attorney in a disciplinary matter. Unnamed Attorney negotiated a settlement of the dispute between his attorney client and the complaining witness, referred to as Jane Doe. The terms of the settlement included a payment of $30,000 to Jane Doe. Additonally, Unnamed Attorney inserted the following provision in the settlement agreement:

Specifically, paragraph 4 of the settlement agreement stated:

Withdrawal of Bar Complaint. [Jane Doe] agrees to take all action legally necessary to immediately withdrawal [sic] of the Bar Complaint and agrees to the extent permitted by law, to refuse to voluntarily assist or to voluntarily provide information to the KBA or anyone else, regarding the Bar Complaint unless directed to do so pursuant to subpoena, court order or other binding authority.

The Supreme Court of Kentucky held that that provision violated Rule 3.4(g) of the Rules Of Professional Conduct.

“A lawyer shall not request a person other than a client to refrain from voluntarily giving relevant information to another party unless:

(1) the person is a relative or agent who supervises, directs or regularly consults with the client concerning the matter or has authority to obligate the client with respect to the matter;

(2) the lawyer reasonably believes that the person’s interests will not be adversely affected by refraining from giving such information.”

(Illinois has a slightly different formulation of the Rule. See Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct Rule 3.4(f)).

The Kentucky Supreme Court held that the lawyer violated the rule by attempting to interfere with a disciplinary proceeding and that he would receive a private reprimand.

Edward X. Clinton, Jr.