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IN RE WOOD
July 13, 1990.
In the Matter of WILLIAM R. WOOD, Respondent.
This is an original proceeding in discipline filed
by the office of the disciplinary administrator against William
R. Wood, of Wichita, an attorney admitted to the practice of law
in Kansas. The complaint filed against respondent alleges
violations of Model Rules of Professional Conduct 3.3 (1989 Kan.
Ct. R. Annot. 238); 3.4 (1989 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 241); 3.5 (1989
Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 243); 4.1 (1989 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 249); 4.4
(1989 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 251); 8.4(a), (b), (c), (d), and (g)
(1989 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 268); and Supreme Court Rule 207 (1989
Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 125).
A formal hearing before the panel of the Kansas Board for
Discipline of Attorneys was held on November 30, 1989, at the
Kansas Judicial Center, Topeka, Kansas. Respondent appeared in
person and by counsel. By answer, respondent recognized that he
had violated Supreme Court Rule 226 Model Rules of Professional
Conduct (1989 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 190) but not to the extent
alleged in the formal complaint.
The facts which are the basis for the complaint against
respondent are included within the panel report. No exceptions to
the report were filed by the respondent. The complaint arises out
of a meeting held in respondent's office to discuss complainant's
intention to place the name of respondent's "best friend" on the
birth certificate of the child born to the complainant. The
complainant maintained that respondent's friend is the father of
the child. The panel made the following findings of fact:
1. "Respondent, William R. Wood, is an attorney at
law, registration number 06858, with his last
registration address with the Clerk of the Appellate
Courts> of Kansas being P.O. Box 126, Wichita, Kansas
"2. There is no significant dispute between the
parties that the meeting of November 25, 1988, took
place and that during the course of the meeting
respondent did take a handgun from his drawer and use
it to demonstrate a point he was trying to make.
Likewise there is no dispute that respondent did not
point the gun at Ms. O'Mara or threaten her with it.
"3. There also is no dispute that respondent
prepared the letter and affidavits submitted to the
Disciplinary Administrator stating that no gun was
used during the meeting. Although the affidavits were
apparently not properly executed, the respondent does
not deny that they were submitted with the
expectation that they would be relied upon as
"4. The respondent admits that the letter and
affidavits were false and that he initially lied to
"5. Ms. O'Mara ultimately filed a paternity action
against Mr. Holt, and an order determining paternity
The panel unanimously concluded that respondent's actions
violated MRPC 8.1 (1989 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 266) and 8.4(c) by
knowingly preparing and submitting false affidavits to the
disciplinary administrator and lying to the investigating
attorney. The panel further concluded that there was not clear
and convincing evidence to support a finding that respondent
violated the additional provisions as alleged in the complaint.
The panel unanimously recommended that the respondent be publicly
censured pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 203(a)(3) (1989 Kan. Ct.
R. Annot. 120). In making the recommendation, the panel sought
guidance from the American Bar Association Standards for Imposing
Lawyer Sanctions. In addition, the panel took into consideration
the following mitigating factors:
"1. Mr. Wood has had a long and successful career
in Wichita, as evidenced by the letters of support
introduced into evidence;
"2. Mr. Wood was suffering some health problems at
the time of the commission of the violations;
"3. Mr. Wood admitted his wrongdoing during the
hearing and cooperated with the panel; and
"4. Mr. Wood has virtually ceased to practice law."
After a careful review of the record, we are of the opinion
that the serious nature of respondent's conduct in attempting to
cover up his unprofessional actions warrants more than public
censure. The respondent's actions in this regard were intentional
to perpetrate a fraud upon this court. The panel, discussing the
ABA Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions, noted:
"The standards in Section 6.1 deal specifically with
the making of false statements, fraud, and
misrepresentations by attorneys. 6.11 recommends
disbarment if the lawyer, `with the intent to deceive
the court makes a false statement, submits a false
document, or improperly withholds material
information, and causes serious or potentially
serious injury to a party, or causes a significant or
potentially significant adverse effect on the legal
proceeding.' The recommended sanction is reduced to
suspension by 6.12 if a lawyer `knows that false
statements or documents are being submitted to the
court or that material information is improperly
being withheld, and takes no remedial action, and
causes injury or potential injury to a party to the
legal proceeding, or causes an adverse or potentially
adverse effect on the legal proceeding.' If the
actions of a lawyer are merely negligent, a reprimand
is the recommended sanction (6.13)."
We do not agree with the panel's conclusion that respondent's
conduct falls somewhere between § 6.12 and § 6.13. We conclude
that respondent's actions fall somewhere between § 6.11 and §
6.12, and, after considering the mitigating factors, we are of
the opinion that respondent should be disciplined by suspension
from the practice of law for a period of one year from the
effective date of this opinion.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that William R. Wood be and he is
hereby suspended from the practice of law in the State of Kansas
for a period of one year from the 13th day of July, 1990.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that respondent shall comply with the
provisions of Supreme Court Rule 218(a) (1989 Kan. Ct. R. Annot.
138), and, at the end of the one-year suspension, respondent will
be reinstated upon furnishing proof of compliance thereof to the
Clerk of the Appellate Courts.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the costs of the proceedings be
assessed to the respondent and that this order be published in
the official Kansas Reports.
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