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In re Haley

Supreme Court of Kansas

March 2, 2018

In the Matter of Lance M. Haley, Respondent.

         ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN DISCIPLINE Original proceeding in discipline. One-year suspension.

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

          Lance M. Haley, 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, Lance M. Haley, of Kansas City, Missouri, an attorney admitted to the practice of law in Kansas in 1991.

         On January 9, 2017, 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 February 15, 2017. A hearing was held on the complaint before a panel of the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys on May 24, 2017, where the respondent was personally present. The hearing panel determined that respondent violated KRPC 1.3 (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 290) (diligence), 3.2 (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 341) (expediting litigation), 5.5(a) (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 361) (unauthorized practice of law), 8.4(d) (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 379) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice), and 8.4(g) (engaging in conduct adversely reflecting on lawyer's fitness to practice law).

          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

"11. In 1990, the Missouri Supreme Court admitted the respondent to the practice of law in the state courts of Missouri. The Kansas Supreme Court admitted the respondent to the practice of law in the state courts of Kansas on October 4, 1991. The respondent was also licensed to practice law in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, and the United States District Court for the District of Kansas.
"12. In 2006, the respondent was appointed to represent F.M. and R.L.A. In criminal appeals pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The respondent failed to prosecute the two federal criminal appeals. The Eighth Circuit Court issued an order for the respondent to appear and show cause why he should not be disciplined for failing to prosecute the two federal criminal appeals. The respondent failed to respond to the order to appear and show cause. On November 8, 2006, the Eighth Circuit Court directed that the respondent's name be stricken from the [roll] of attorneys admitted to practice before the Eighth Circuit Court. (The respondent's licenses to practice before the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri and the United States District Court for the District of Kansas were also suspended.)
"13. On January 17, 2007, the federal court amended its order of disbarment to direct that the respondent's license be suspended for a minimum of one year. The court directed that any application for reinstatement be accompanied by a written opinion from a mental health provider that the respondent was able to effectively discharge his professional responsibilities.

         "14. Following the federal court discipline, on January 30, 2007, in a reciprocal case, the Missouri Supreme Court issued an order suspending the respondent's license to practice law in Missouri, for having violated Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 3.2, and 8.4(d). The Missouri Supreme Court directed that no application for reinstatement would be entertained until the respondent was reinstated to practice in the federal courts.

         "15. The respondent failed to comply with the annual requirements to maintain his Kansas law license. As a result, on October 9, 2007, the Kansas Supreme Court issued an order suspending the respondent's license to practice law in the state courts of Kansas.

         "16. On April 18, 2008, the Eighth Circuit Court terminated the suspension order. However, the respondent did not resume the practice of law at that time.

         "17. In 2009, the respondent filed an application for reinstatement in Missouri. Prior to the time the court ruled on the respondent's application, in June 2012, the respondent withdrew his application for reinstatement in Missouri.

         "18. On May 3, 2013, the respondent informed the disciplinary administrator of the suspensions of his federal license and his Missouri license. The respondent indicated in the correspondence that he had not been practicing law, but was beginning the process of reinstatement. Even though the respondent was not subject to a disciplinary suspension in Kansas, a reinstatement questionnaire was provided to the respondent in order to obtain information regarding what the respondent had been doing since he last practiced law in Kansas.

         "19. Prior to the respondent's May 3, 2013, letter, the disciplinary administrator had not been made aware by the respondent or the other licensing authorities that the respondent had engaged in professional misconduct and his other licenses to practice law had been suspended. At that time, the disciplinary administrator considered the respondent's correspondence as a self-report of the misconduct which occurred in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

         "20. In a letter dated June 17, 2013, to the disciplinary administrator the respondent disclosed that he engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by drafting a codicil to his mother's will. There is no evidence that the codicil was anything other than his mother's intent, however, the codicil did benefit the respondent by shielding his future inheritance from an outstanding tax obligation he had at that time. Further, the respondent's family members understood the purpose of the document. However, later, the codicil was nullified in a Johnson County, Kansas, probate proceeding.

         "21. On July 29, 2013, the respondent returned the completed reinstatement questionnaire to the disciplinary administrator.

         "22. On August 19, 2013, the respondent informed the disciplinary administrator that he wished to withdraw his request for reinstatement of his Kansas license. (As an aside, the respondent had not taken the steps necessary to request reinstatement of his license to practice law in Kansas. In order to seek reinstatement, the respondent had to complete continuing legal education hours, submit certain forms, and pay fees.)

         "23. Because the respondent had not been disciplined on a reciprocal basis in Kansas for the professional misconduct that occurred in the federal courts, the disciplinary administrator proceeded with the investigation and continued to correspond with the respondent.

         "24. In December, 2013, the respondent filed a second application for reinstatement in Missouri.

         "25. On March 10, 2015, in a pleading filed with the Missouri Supreme Court, Missouri bar counsel recommended that the respondent's request for reinstatement be granted:

         '1. The reinstatement report was mailed to Applicant on February 19, 2015. Applicant responded in a letter received by OCDC on March 5, 2015, stating he has no objection to the report. His application is, then ready for decision by the Court.

         '2. Applicant has satisfied the minimum requirements set forth in Rule 5.28. He obtained a passing score on the MPRE within the timeframe set forth in the rule. The Missouri Bar Director of Continuing Legal Education programs confirmed Applicant has reported the requisite CLE credits. He has paid the reinstatement fee and owes no disciplinary costs.

         '3. The Court's January 30, 2007, order requires that no application for reinstatement will be considered by the Court until Applicant is reinstated to practice in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which is the court from which the disciplinary case originated. The suspension of Applicant's privilege to practice in that court was terminated by the Eighth Circuit's order, issued in April [of] 2008. While the Eighth Circuit's suspension was terminated by that court, Applicant is not eligible for readmission to the Eighth Circuit until he is admitted to, among other options, the highest court of a state. See Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure Rule 46(a). (FN Aside from admission to a state bar, an attorney is eligible for admission to the bar of a court of appeals if the attorney is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, another court of appeals, or a U.S. District Court.) Thus, while Applicant's federal suspension is terminated, he must be readmitted to a state court bar before he is eligible to apply for readmission to the federal court. Under these unique circumstances, the fact that Applicant is not reinstated to practice before the Eighth Circuit should not be an insurmountable impediment to his reinstatement to Missouri's Bar.

         '4. Applicant's mental health was an issue addressed in the Eighth Circuit's order of discipline. He was required to, and did, supply that court with a written report from a treating psychiatrist attesting to his ability to discharge his professional obligations. Applicant has been forthcoming about his mental health struggles in the course of staff counsel's investigation in the instant reinstatement case. At OCDC's request, Applicant provided letters from his psychiatrist and treating psychologist attesting to his ability to discharge his professional responsibilities and the stability of his emotional and psychological state.

         '5. Applicant's first application for reinstatement was withdrawn by him in large part because he was not compliant with federal and state tax laws. He is currently compliant.

         '6. Applicant has established a long-term non-controversial work history in the years since his 2006 suspension by the federal court. He states that he has maintained proficiency in his preferred area of practice, federal criminal defense work, by attending CLEs and connections with former colleagues. He professes eagerness to return to that area of practice in the federal district court in western Missouri.'

         "26. On April 30, 2015, the Missouri Supreme Court granted the respondent's application and reinstated his law license. The court, however, placed the respondent on probation for two years. The Missouri bar counsel informed the disciplinary administrator that the respondent's license to practice law in Missouri had been reinstated, subject to two years['] probation.

         "27. In order to rectify the administrative issues related to his Kansas license, the respondent must comply with certain administrative requirements.

a. At the time of the hearing, the respondent needed to complete 120 hours of continuing legal education, with 20 of those hours classified as ethics hours. Now, because another registration period has passed, the respondent must complete 132 hours of continuing legal education, including 22 hours of ethics. Further, the respondent must pay a fee of $220 to the Kansas Continuing Legal Education Commission. At the time of the hearing, the ...

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