In the Matter of Jeffery A. Sutton, Respondent.
PROCEEDING IN DISCIPLINE
Stanton A. Hazlett, Disciplinary Administrator, argued the
cause, and Michael R. Serra, Deputy Disciplinary
Administrator, was with him on the formal complaint for the
Trey Pettlon, of Law Office of Pettlon & Ginie, of
Olathe, argued the cause, and Jeffery A. Sutton, respondent,
argued the cause pro se.
an uncontested original proceeding in discipline filed by the
office of the Disciplinary Administrator against respondent,
Jeffery A. Sutton, of Basehor, an attorney admitted to the
practice of law in Kansas in 1989.
September 7, 2016, the office of the Disciplinary
Administrator filed a formal complaint against respondent,
alleging violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional
Conduct (KRPC). After the granting of a motion for an
extension of time to file an answer, respondent filed an
answer on October 19, 2016. A hearing was held on the
complaint before a panel of the Kansas Board for Discipline
of Attorneys on November 10, 2016, at which the respondent
appeared personally and by counsel. The hearing panel
determined that respondent violated KRPC 1.4(b) (2017 Kan.
S.Ct. R. 291) (communication); 8.4(c) (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R.
379) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud,
deceit, or misrepresentation); and 8.4(d) (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R.
379) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration
conclusion of the hearing, the panel made the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law, together with its
recommendation to this court:
of Fact . . . .
A.C. retained the respondent to represent her in a divorce
proceeding, filed in Jefferson County, Kansas. The parties
were able to resolve many issues, however, the parties could
not come to an agreement about where the children would
attend school. On May 6, 2015, the court heard the case,
ordered that the children primarily reside with A.C., the
mother, and ordered that the children continue attending
school in McLouth, Kansas, where the father, B.D., resides.
Opposing counsel prepared a journal entry memorializing the
court's decision. Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 170, the
journal entry was provided to the respondent. The respondent,
however, did not sign the journal entry. Eventually, on June
18, 2016, the court entered the journal entry without the
On June 24, 2015, the respondent filed a motion to modify the
parenting plan. In the motion, the respondent acknowledged
the court's order 'that the children will continue in
their schooling at the McLouth (USD 342) School
District.' The respondent informed the court that the
mother was getting remarried and was buying a house in
Tonganoxie. Finally, the respondent requested that the court
enter an order allowing the children to attend school in the
Tonganoxie School District.
On August 6, 2015, the mother enrolled the children in school
at the Tonganoxie Elementary School.
On August 12, 2015, the father contacted the McLouth
Elementary school by telephone to inquire about the
children's enrollment for the upcoming school year.
Jerome Johnson, the school principal, told the father that
the children were not enrolled at McLouth Elementary School.
The father then called the Tonganoxie Elementary School to
inquire about the children's enrollment. The father was
told that the children had been enrolled at the Tonganoxie
On August 13, 2015, father's counsel filed a response to
the respondent's motion to modify the parenting plan. On
that same day, father's counsel filed a motion to enforce
parenting time. The court scheduled a hearing on the pending
motions for September 9, 2015.
On August 19, 2015, the mother sent an electronic mail
message to the father which provided as follows:
'I wanted to give you all the information you will need
in regards [sic] to the current school year. The
kids are enrolled and will be attending Tonganoxie Elementary
school. They start tomorrow. School starts at 7:55 am to 3:10
pm I hope you will take the time to review what the school
has to offer the kids ie. [sic] computer labs,
science lab, etc. They are very excited about the new school
year. If there are any issues with picking them up on Friday
or dropping them off on Monday at Tonganoxie Elementary
School please let me know. This is in the best interest of
the kids. Tonganoxie has so much to offer the kids. . .
On August 19, 2015, the father enrolled the children in the
McLouth Elementary School.
On August 21, 2015, the father sent the mother an electronic
mail message, which provided as follows:
'I want to inform you that I will be taking
[sic] kids to McLouth for school Monday where they
are enrolled and [sic] court order states they shall
attend, file stamped June 18 2015 I will not be able to go
along with what you have done as its [sic] not in
the best interest of [sic] kids and in violation of
a court order.'
On August 23, 2015, the mother sent the father an electronic
mail message, which provided as follows:
'. . . I request that you speak with Mr. Hall ie.
[sic] there is no current order that the children go
to McLouth. . . . If you take them to McLouth tomorrow that
is going to destroy them.'
On August 24, 2015, the respondent sent a letter to Mr.
Johnson. In the letter, the respondent stated:
'This letter will serve to advise you that I represent
[A.C.] concerning the enrollment of her children  in the
Tonganoxie School District. As you should know, the children,
along with their mother, recently took up residence [in]
Tonganoxie, Kansas 66086, which is located within the
boundaries of USD 464. As a consequence of this new
residence, my client has filed an application with the
District court [sic] that has jurisdiction over this
matter seeking to have a determination made about the
district where the children will attend school moving
forwards [sic]. Because my client's motion is
pending, it is scheduled for a hearing on September 9, 2015,
there is no order to resolve where they will be attending
school. As I am sure you are aware, Kansas law provides that
a student attend the school district of residency, which is
why, pending a decision being made by the Court, that the
children are enrolled in USD 464.'
the respondent sent a nearly identical letter to the
principal at the Tonganoxie Elementary School. The respondent
acknowledged that the letters are not accurate and that a
valid court order was in effect. The respondent explained
that he did not carefully read the letters prior to sending
them out. The respondent stated that he intended to inform
the principals that a ...