ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN DISCIPLINE
Original proceeding in discipline.
This is an original uncontested proceeding in discipline filed by the office of the Disciplinary Administrator against the respondent, Susan L. Harris, of Kansas City, Missouri, an attorney admitted to the practice of law in Missouri in 1995 and in Kansas in 1996. Respondent's license to practice law in the state of Kansas has been suspended since October 6, 2003, for failure to pay the annual attorney registration fee, failure to fulfill the minimum continuing legal education requirements, failure to pay the annual continuing legal education fee, and failure to pay the noncompliance continuing legal education fee.
On June 10, 2005, respondent was disbarred by order of the Missouri Supreme Court. Multiple very serious complaints had been filed by clients against the respondent. The disbarrment order was the result of the respondent's failure to file an answer to the resulting formal information charging her with violations of the Missouri Supreme Court Rules relating to attorney discipline.
On April 11, 2007, the office of the Disciplinary Administrator filed a formal complaint against respondent alleging that the respondent violated Rule 8.4 of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct (KRPC) (misconduct) (2007 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 559). The complaint arose from the Missouri disciplinary proceedings. A hearing was held on the complaint before a panel of the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys on May 31, 2007. The respondent did not appear.
Applying Kansas Supreme Court Rule 202 concerning reciprocal discipline (2007 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 257), and based on the documents filed in the Missouri disciplinary proceeding, the hearing panel concluded that the respondent violated KRPC 1.3 (diligence) (2007 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 398); KRPC 1.4 (communication) (2007 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 413); KRPC 1.16(d) (declining or terminating representation) (2007 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 487); KRPC 5.5(a) (unauthorized practice of law) (2007 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 539); KRPC 8.1(b) (disciplinary matters) (2007 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 553); and Supreme Court Rule 207(b) (duty to cooperate) (2007 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 288).
The panel unanimously recommended that the respondent be disbarred from the practice of law in the state of Kansas. The respondent did not file exceptions to the final hearing report.
THE MISSOURI DISCIPLINARY ACTION
Our Supreme Court Rule 202 provides in pertinent part:
"A final adjudication in another jurisdiction that a lawyer has been guilty of misconduct shall establish conclusively the misconduct for purposes of a disciplinary proceeding in this state." 2007 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 258.
Before proceeding further, certain aspects of the particular process resulting in respondent's Missouri disbarrment need to be set forth and discussed in conjunction with Rule 202.
The Missouri rules relative to discipline of attorneys are set forth in Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5. Highly summarized as pertinent here, the rules provide for a basic procedure similar to our Kansas procedure. When a complaint is filed, there is an investigation which may result in a formal information being filed against the respondent. See Missouri Supreme Court Rules 5.08, 5.09. The rules require the respondent to file a response to the information. See Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5.13. After a response is filed, a hearing will then be held before a disciplinary hearing panel. At the hearing, evidence is presented and the panel prepares a final hearing report as to the underlying facts, professional misconduct established, and recommended discipline. See Missouri Supreme Court Rules 5.14, 5.15, 5.16. This report is forwarded to the Supreme Court for ultimate resolution. See Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5.19.
In the case before us, an alternative procedural process was followed. Missouri Supreme ...