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In re Petzold

October 26, 2007

IN THE MATTER OF FREDERICK J. PETZOLD, RESPONDENT.


Per curiam.

ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN DISCIPLINE

Indefinite suspension.

This is an original uncontested proceeding in discipline filed by the Disciplinary Administrator against respondent, Frederick J. Petzold, an attorney admitted to the practice of law in Kansas in July 1965. The respondent's last registration address filed with the Clerk of the Appellate Courts of Kansas is in Overland Park, Kansas.

A hearing was held before a panel of the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys on October 19, 2006. In its final hearing report, the panel concluded that the respondent had violated KRPC 1.16(a)(1) (2006 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 448) (declining representation), KRPC 5.5(a) (2006 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 494) (unauthorized practice of law), and Kansas Supreme Court Rule 211(b) (2006 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 284) (requiring service of answer to complaint within 20 days). The hearing panel unanimously recommended that the respondent be indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in the State of Kansas.

The panel's findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendations for discipline are reproduced in part as follows:

"FINDINGS OF FACT

"2. The Respondent was admitted to the practice of law in the state of Kansas on July 1, 1965. On November 20, 1980, the Kansas Supreme Court suspended the Respondent for failing to pay the annual registration fee. On July 9, 1984, the Court reinstated the Respondent's license to practice law.

"3. On January 6, 1993, the Court, again, suspended the Respondent's license to practice law. The Court suspended the Respondent's license to practice law in 1993 because he failed to comply with the annual CLE requirements. On November 9, 1994, the Court reinstated the Respondent's license to practice law.

"4. On November 5, 1996, the Court suspended the Respondent's license for a third time. The Court suspended the Respondent's license because he failed to pay the annual registration fee, he failed to pay the annual CLE fee, and he failed to comply with the annual education requirements. Thereafter, on November 24, 1997, the Court, again, reinstated the Respondent's license to practice law.

"5. On November 4, 1999, the Court suspended the Respondent's license once again. The Court suspended the Respondent's license because the Respondent failed to pay the annual registration fee, the Respondent failed to comply with the annual education requirements, and the Respondent failed to pay the CLE late fee. The Respondent's license remains suspended.

"6. On August 11, 2005, the Respondent sent a demand letter, in behalf of Rustie Ann Miller, to the City of Holton, Kansas, to the Mayor of Holton, Kansas, to the City Manager of Holton, Kansas, to the Police Chief of Holton, Kansas, and to Jay Budde, a Police Officer employed by Holton, Kansas.

"7. The Respondent's letter provided, in part, as follows:

'I represent Rustie Ann Miller of Holton, Kansas, in connection with her claim for damages for the deprivation of her civil rights by the illegal actions, all under color of state law, taken by: (1) Police Officer Jay Budde, by the inappropriate use of his handgun in her presence; (2) By said Officer's assault of my client by his intentional swerving of his patrol car at her while she was driving in the opposite direction in her vehicle; (3) By said Officer stopping and issuing to my client a harassing warning ticket; (4) For further damages on account of the city's reckless failure to prevent further incidents subsequent to Officer Budde's aforementioned inappropriate use of his handgun; and (5) For further additional damages on account of the city's reckless hiring of Officer Budde when a routine check on his previous employment would have shown him to be a problem officer with numerous serious incidents.

'We view these illegal actions to be of a most serious nature for which compensatory and punitive damages would be awarded with attorney's fees.

'Accordingly, demand is hereby made for the payment to my client in the amount of $650,000.00. In the event that the undersigned does not receive an affirmative reply to this demand within ten (10) weekdays from your receipt of this letter with satisfactory assurance of prompt payment, suit will be immediately [filed] in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, where a much larger amount of compensation and punitive damages and attorney's fees will be sought.'

"8. On the second page of the Respondent's letter, he included a heading identifying himself as an 'Attorney at Law.'

"9. On August 16, 2005, the Respondent called Marlin A. White, City Attorney for Holton, Kansas, regarding his demand letter. The Respondent inquired as to what action the city might be taking regarding his letter. Following the Respondent's telephone call, Mr. White called the Disciplinary Administrator's office to determine whether the Respondent was licensed to practice law. At that time, Mr. White was informed that the Court suspended the Respondent's license in 1999.

"10. Also on August 16, 2005, Mr. White forwarded a copy of the Respondent's letter along with a letter of complaint regarding the Respondent's unauthorized practice of law to the Disciplinary Administrator's office.

"11. The Respondent terminated his representation of Ms. Miller after advising her that her damages were insignificant. The Respondent never advised Ms. Miller that ...


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