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In re Schneider

Supreme Court of Kansas

November 9, 2017

In the Matter of Lawrence E. Schneider, Respondent.

         ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN DISCIPLINE Original proceeding in discipline. Published censure.

          Penny Moylan, Deputy Disciplinary Administrator, argued the cause, and Stanton A. Hazlett, Disciplinary Administrator, was with her on the formal complaint for the petitioner.

          Lawrence E. Schneider, respondent, argued the cause pro se.

          Per Curiam

         This is an original proceeding in discipline filed by the office of the Disciplinary Administrator against the respondent, Lawrence E. Schneider, of Topeka, an attorney admitted to the practice of law in Kansas in 1977.

         On September 7, 2016, the office of the Disciplinary Administrator filed a formal complaint against the respondent alleging violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct (KRPC). The respondent filed an answer on October 3, 2016. A hearing was held on the complaint before a panel of the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys on November 8, 2016, where the respondent was personally present. The hearing panel determined that respondent violated KRPC 1.3 (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 290) (diligence), and 1.4(b) (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 291) (communication).

         Upon conclusion of the hearing, the panel made the following findings of fact and conclusions of law, together with its recommendation to this court:

          "Findings of Fact

         . . . .

         "7. Throughout the respondent's career, he has been a solo practitioner. Over time, his practice has become focused primarily in the area of bankruptcy law.

         "8. In April, 2011, the Kansas legislature enacted K.S.A. 60-2315, which allows a debtor in bankruptcy to claim, as exempt, federal and state earned income tax credits.

         "A.J. and M.J.

         "9. On January 29, 2013, the respondent filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition on behalf of A.J. and M.J., husband and wife. At that time, the respondent's practice was to not list a possible federal and state earned income tax credit exemption on the schedule C to the bankruptcy petition. Rather, the respondent's practice was to amend the schedule C if a client received a federal or state earned income tax credit exemption. The respondent acknowledges that his practice was not the best practice. However, the respondent points out that a debtor may amend a schedule any time prior to discharge.

         "10. In this case, as a result of the respondent's practice, the respondent did not list the debtors' federal and state earned income tax credit exemption on the schedule C filed with the chapter 7 bankruptcy petition.

         "11. On April 8, 2014, the bankruptcy trustee filed a motion for the debtors to turn over their 2012 income tax refunds in the amount of $2, 999.50. The respondent failed to file a response to the motion. On May 15, 2014, the court granted the trustee's motion and ordered the debtors to provide the trustee with their income tax refund in the amount of $2, 999.50.

          "12. On May 17, 2014, the respondent filed an amended schedule C to the bankruptcy petition. The amended schedule C listed $2, 991.00 as exempt federal and state earned income tax credit.

         "13. The debtors did not pay the income tax refunds in the amount of $2, 999.50 to the trustee as ordered by the court.

         "14. On July 1, 2014, the trustee filed a motion asking that the court order the debtors and the respondent to appear and show cause why the debtors should not be held in contempt for failing to comply with the court's May 15, 2014, order. The court issued an order to show cause.

         "15. The respondent and the trustee established a monthly payment plan and the respondent personally paid the $2, 999.50 to the trustee in full.

         "J.R. and I.R.

         "16. On June 24, 2013, the respondent filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition on behalf of J.R. and I.R., husband and wife. Again, based on his pattern and practice, the respondent did not list the debtors' possible 2013 federal and state earned income credit exemption on the schedule C to their bankruptcy petition. On March 20, 2014, the bankruptcy court entered a discharge order, discharging the debtors' debts.

         "17. On April 18, 2014, the bankruptcy trustee filed a motion requesting authority to allocate $1, 994.52 of the debtors' $5, 160.00 2013 federal and state income tax refund. On May 6, 2014, the respondent filed a response to the trustee's motion, arguing that $4, 068.00 of the debtors' state and federal income tax refunds were exempt as earned income credit.

         "18. On May 9, 2014, the respondent filed an amended schedule C to the bankruptcy petition, listing $4, 068.00 of the debtors' income tax refunds as exempt federal and state earned income credit. On May 15, 2014, the trustee filed an objection to the amended schedule C, arguing that the debtors' inexcusable delay in claiming the exemption caused prejudice to the trustee and that the claimed exemption should therefore be denied as waived.

         "19. Later, the respondent and the trustee entered into a compromise and settlement whereby the ...


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