ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN DISCIPLINE
This is an original uncontested proceeding in discipline filed by the Disciplinary Administrator's office against Respondent, Peter J. Antosh, a Dodge City attorney licensed to practice law in Kansas since December 2003.
The formal complaint charged Respondent with violating Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct (KRPC) 1.7(a) (2006 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 411) (conflict of interest, adverse clients); KRPC 8.4(b) (2006 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 510) (criminal act reflecting adversely on fitness as lawyer); and KRPC 8.4(d) (misconduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
Respondent appeared in person and through counsel at his disciplinary hearing, and he stipulated to the facts and ethical violations set out in the formal complaint. The hearing panel filed its final hearing report in April 2007.
"In a disciplinary proceeding, this court considers the evidence, the findings of the disciplinary panel, and the arguments of the parties, and determines whether violations of KRPC exist and, if they do, what discipline should be imposed. Any attorney misconduct must be established by substantial, clear, convincing, and satisfactory evidence. [Citations omitted.]
"This court views the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendations made by the disciplinary panel as advisory, but gives the final hearing report the same dignity as a special verdict by a jury or the findings of a trial court. Thus, the disciplinary panel's report will be adopted where amply sustained by the evidence, but not where it is against the clear weight of the evidence. [Citations omitted.]" In re Lober, 276 Kan. 633, 636-37, 78 P.3d 442 (2003).
The hearing panel made the following findings of fact based on two incidents of Respondent's misconduct.
The first incident involved a protection from abuse action filed January 9, 2006, by Dina Ramirez-Ortiz against her husband, Mauricio Albino-Ortiz. On that same day, District Judge E. Leigh Hood issued a temporary order of protection. A hearing on the PFA petition was set for January 18, 2006.
Albino-Ortiz met with Respondent on January 12 regarding the PFA. He paid Respondent a fee of $100 for the initial consultation. Respondent agreed to represent Albino-Ortiz on the PFA, provided an additional fee of $200 was paid.
Ramirez-Ortiz, who speaks only Spanish, believed that she needed to arrange to have an interpreter present at the hearing on the PFA. Because Respondent is fluent in Spanish, Ramirez-Ortiz contacted Respondent's office to hire Respondent to communicate with the court for her. She paid Respondent $200. Respondent's office staff arranged for Ramirez-Ortiz to meet with Respondent on January 17.
On January 17, Respondent met with Ramirez-Ortiz, believing she had retained him to mediate a resolution of the case between her and Albino-Ortiz. During their meeting, Respondent attempted to persuade Ramirez-Ortiz to dismiss the PFA petition, on the condition that Albino-Ortiz participate in an anger management class.
Later that same day, Respondent met with Judge Hood. Respondent advised the judge that he believed the parties had reached an agreement or would soon reach an agreement, and that there would be no further need for the temporary PFA order. From their conversation, the judge believed Respondent represented Ramirez-Ortiz.
On January 18, the district court called the case for hearing. Respondent was not present; he was in Edwards County appearing in court on behalf of another client. The Edwards County hearing ...