In the Matter of Matthew B. Works, Respondent.
proceeding in discipline. Two-year suspension, stayed pending
successful completion of a three-year period of probation.
Stanton A. Hazlett, Disciplinary Administrator, argued the
cause, and Michael R. Serra, Deputy Disciplinary
Administrator, was on the formal complaint for the
J. Ambrosio, of Ambrosio & Ambrosio, Chtd., of Topeka,
argued the cause, and Matthew B. Works, respondent, argued
the cause pro se.
ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN DISCIPLINE
an original proceeding in discipline filed by the office of
the Disciplinary Administrator against the respondent,
Matthew B. Works, of Topeka, an attorney admitted to the
practice of law in Kansas in 1982.
August 14, 2015, the office of the Disciplinary Administrator
filed a formal complaint against the respondent alleging
violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct
(KRPC). On September 28, 2015, the respondent filed a motion
for additional time to file an answer and a motion to
continue the hearing; both motions were granted by the
hearing panel. An amended formal complaint was filed October
7, 2015. The respondent filed an answer on October 29, 2015,
admitting all facts and rule violations. A proposed probation
plan was filed on January 7, 2016. A Joint Stipulation was
filed on February 16, 2017. A hearing was held on the
complaint before a panel of the Kansas Board for Discipline
of Attorneys on February 22, 2017, where the respondent was
personally present and represented by counsel. The hearing
panel determined that respondent violated KRPC 1.2(c) (2017
Kan. S.Ct. R. 288) (scope of representation); 1.3 (2017 Kan.
S.Ct. R. 290) (diligence); 1.4(a) (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 291)
(communication); 1.16(d) (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 331)
(termination of representation); and 3.2 (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R.
341) (expediting litigation).
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
. . . .
"Representation of Y.P.
"12. On February 8, 2011, Y.P. filed a pro se
notice of appeal and request for appointment of counsel. On
April 26, 2011, the court appointed the respondent to
represent Y.P. in the appeal. The respondent did not file a
docketing statement as required by Rule 2.04 or take any
other action. Because the appeal was not docketed, the case
languished in the court system. Nearly 2 years later, on
March 26, 2013, the court dismissed the case. Throughout that
period of time, the respondent remained as counsel of record
"13. On January 18, 2013, Y.P. filed a complaint against
the respondent. During the investigation, the respondent
asserted that because the appeal lacked merit, he took no
action to docket the appeal. The respondent also asserted
that he informed Y.P. that her appeal had no merit. Despite
the respondent's conclusion that the appeal lacked merit,
he failed to [move] to dismiss or withdraw from the
"Representation of J.R.
"14. In early 2012, J.R. faced multiple felony charges
in two separate criminal cases in Shawnee County, Kansas. On
March 29, 2012, the respondent entered his appearance on
behalf of J.R. With J.R.'s permission, the respondent
entered into plea negotiations, on behalf of J.R., in the two
cases. The respondent informed J.R. that the maximum possible
prison sentence he could serve would be 60 months. On August
22, 2012, J.R. entered the pleas as agreed.
"15. After the pl1ea hearing, J.R. learned that he faced
a substantially longer prison sentence. Additionally, J.R.
believed that the judge may be biased against him based on a
previous experience J.R.'s grandparents had with the
judge. J.R. communicated his concern about the judge to the
respondent. The respondent told J.R. that the alleged bias
was not worth raising.
"16. The court scheduled sentencing for December 7,
2012. At sentencing, the judge ordered J.R. to serve a
controlling sentence of 46 months in prison for each case.
The judge further ordered the sentences to be served
consecutively, for a total sentence of 92 months.
"17. J.R. instructed the respondent to file an appeal on
his behalf. The respondent filed notices of appeal in each
case on December 10, 2012. After filing the notices of
appeal, the respondent failed to docket the appeal.
Additionally, the respondent failed to withdraw from the
"18. Following J.R.'s sentencing hearing, J.R. wrote
many letters to the district court seeking information. The
letters were forwarded to the respondent, as he remained as
attorney of record. The respondent did not explain to J.R.
the necessary next steps to perfect the appeal.
"19. Nothing happened on J.R.'s appeal for 2 years.
"20. On September 15, 2014, J.R. completed a poverty
affidavit, requesting appellate counsel. On September 25,
2014, the district court appointed appellate counsel for J.R.
"Conclusions of Law
"21. Based upon the findings of fact and the joint
stipulation entered by the
parties, the hearing panel concludes as a matter of law that
the respondent violated KRPC 1.2, KRPC 1.3, KRPC 1.4, KRPC
1.16, and KRPC 3.2, as detailed below.
"22. A lawyer may limit the scope of the representation
provided that the
limitation is reasonable [and] the client gives written
informed consent to the limitation. KRPC 1.2(c). In this
case, the respondent violated KRPC 1.2(c) by limiting the
scope of the representation to representing J.R. before the
district court without first obtaining J.R.'s written
consent to the limitation. Accordingly, the hearing panel
concludes that the respondent violated KRPC 1.2(c).
"23. Attorneys must act with reasonable diligence and
promptness in representing their clients. See KRPC
1.3. The respondent failed to diligently and promptly
represent Y.P. and J.R. The court appointed the respondent to
represent Y.P. in her appeal. After reviewing the matter, the
respondent determined that the appeal had no merit. After
reaching that conclusion, however, the respondent failed to
take any action to dismiss the appeal. The respondent's
failure to take action, caused the case to remain pending for
"24. The respondent also failed to diligently represent
J.R. In that case, the respondent filed notices of appeal on
behalf of J.R., however, he failed to docket the appeals or
withdraw from the representation. The respondent's
inaction led to a 2-year delay in J.R.'s appeal.
"25. Because the respondent failed to represent his
clients with diligence and promptness, the hearing panel
concludes that the respondent violated KRPC 1.3 in
representing Y.P. and J.R.
"26. KRPC 1.4(a) provides that '[a] lawyer shall
keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a
matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for
information.' In this case, the respondent violated KRPC
1.4(a) when he failed to respond to J.R.'s letters and
keep J.R. informed about the status of the appeal following
the filing of the notices of appeal. Accordingly, the hearing
panel concludes that the respondent violated KRPC 1.4(a).
KRPC 1.16 governs a lawyer's responsibilities with regard
to terminating the representation. Specifically, KRPC 1.16,
provides in pertinent part, as follows:
'(a) Except as stated in paragraph (c), a lawyer shall
not represent a client or, where representation has
commenced, shall withdraw from the representation of a client
if . . .
(1) the representation will result in violation of the rules
of professional conduct or other law;
(2) the lawyer's physical or mental condition materially
impairs the lawyer's ability to represent the client;
(3) the lawyer is discharged; or
(4) the client persists in a course of action involving the
lawyer's services that the lawyer reasonably believes is