In the Matter of Russell W. Davisson, Respondent.
Original proceeding in discipline.
Danielle M. Hall, Deputy Disciplinary Administrator, argued
the cause, and Stanton A. Hazlett, Disciplinary
Administrator, was with her on the formal complaint for the
appearance by respondent.
an uncontested attorney discipline proceeding against Russell
W. Davisson, of Wichita. Respondent was admitted to the
practice of law in the state of Kansas on September 12, 1975.
September 15, 2017, the Disciplinary Administrator's
office filed a formal complaint against respondent alleging
violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct
(KRPC). Respondent failed to file an answer to the formal
of the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys held a
hearing on November 16, 2017. Respondent failed to appear.
The hearing panel determined he violated KRPC 1.3 (2018 Kan.
S.Ct. R. 292) (diligence); KRPC 1.4(a) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R.
293) (client communication); KRPC 8.4(d) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R.
381) (conduct prejudicial to administration of justice);
Kansas Supreme Court Rule 207(b) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 246)
(cooperation with disciplinary investigation); and Kansas
Supreme Court Rule 211(b) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 251) (timely
answer to formal disciplinary complaint).
conclusion of the hearing, the panel made findings of fact,
conclusions of law, and a disciplinary recommendation.
Respondent took no exceptions to the hearing panel's
report. Before this court, the Disciplinary
Administrator's office endorses the panel's findings
and recommends disbarment. Respondent did not appear. We
quote the report's pertinent parts below.
. . . .
On October 18, 2011, L.B. met with the respondent to discuss
filing bankruptcy. At that time, the respondent provided L.B.
with a representation agreement, worksheets, and instructions
detailing the requirements for filing a bankruptcy petition.
On January 6, 2012, L.B. and his wife, M.B., completed a
financial management course with Access Counseling, Inc., as
required by the bankruptcy court. Access Counseling, Inc.
forwarded the certificate of compliance to the respondent on
January 6, 2012. The respondent failed to forward the
certificate of compliance to the bankruptcy court.
On February 22, 2012, L.B. and M.B. paid the respondent $900
under the representation agreement. L.B. and M.B. were to pay
the balance of the respondent's fee through the Chapter
On April 23, 2012, L.B. met with the respondent. At the April
23, 2012, meeting, the respondent and L.B. reviewed a basic
petition and discussed what a Chapter 13 plan would look
like. Because a creditor was threatening to repossess the
vehicle, on June 15, 2012, the respondent filed a Chapter 13
petition on behalf of L.B. and M.B. with only basic
information. The respondent anticipated adding additional
details later. After the bankruptcy petition was filed, L.B.
and M.B. began receiving collection phone calls from several
L.B. and M.B. attempted to contact the respondent by phone
several times to inquire about the list of creditors, but
were unsuccessful in reaching him. They left several voice
mail messages for the respondent on his office phone, but the
respondent never returned their calls.
After numerous attempts to contact the respondent by
telephone and leaving unanswered telephone messages, L.B. and
M.B. attempted to visit the respondent at his office during
business hours multiple times, however, the respondent was
never there and the front door was always locked.
Eventually, L.B. and M.B. slid a complete list of creditors
underneath the respondent's office door. The respondent
did not call L.B. and M.B. after receiving the list of
creditors. At some point, the phone calls from the creditors
L.B. and M.B. were required to make monthly payments of
$980.00 to the bankruptcy trustee. L.B. and M.B. successfully
completed the payment plan.
On July 11, 2016, the bankruptcy trustee filed a notice of
compliance of payment. In order to complete the bankruptcy,
however, L.B. and M.B. needed to file a certificate of
compliance with the requirement to complete a financial
management course and a motion for entry of discharge.
L.B. and M.B. continued to attempt to contact the respondent
without success. The respondent's failure to communicate
caused L.B. and M.B. unnecessary stress. Because the
respondent would not return their telephone messages, L.B.
and M.B. retained James McIntyre, attorney, to complete their
bankruptcy. On September 7, 2016, Mr. McIntyre entered his
On September 1, 2016, L.B. and M.B. filed a complaint with
the disciplinary administrator regarding the respondent's
conduct. On September 7, 2016, the disciplinary administrator
sent a letter and copy of the complaint to the respondent and
directed the respondent to submit a written response to the
complaint within twenty days. The respondent did not submit a
written response as directed.
Because the respondent did not file the certificate of
compliance with the court, on August 28, 2016, L.B. and M.B.
completed a second financial management course in order to
obtain a second certificate of compliance.
On October 17, 2016, the attorney assigned to investigate
L.B. and M.B's complaint called the respondent and asked
him to submit a written response to the complaint.
Additionally, the attorney investigator also sent the
respondent a letter asking the respondent to submit a written
response to the complaint. The respondent failed to provide a
written response to the complaint a[s] directed.
On October 24, 2016, Mr. McIntyre filed the certificate of
compliance and a motion for entry of discharge.
On November 16, 2016, the attorney investigator left a voice
mail message for the respondent, indicating that he had not
yet received a response to the complaint. The attorney
investigator followed the telephone call with a letter to the
respondent on November 17, 2016, again directing the
respondent to provide a written response to the complaint.
That same day, the respondent called the attorney
investigator and confirmed that he would be providing a
written response to the complaint. The respondent did not
provide a written response as promised.
On December 8, 2016, L.B. and M.B. were discharged from their
obligations with the bankruptcy court.
Because the respondent failed to provide a written response
to the complaint, on January 19, 2016, the attorney
investigator served the respondent with a subpoena duces
tecum to appear and give a sworn statement on January 30,
On January 30, 2017, when he appeared for the sworn
statement, the respondent provided a written response to the
complaint. In the respondent's written response to the
complaint, the respondent failed to explain why he did not
file the certificate of compliance or otherwise complete the
During the sworn statement, the respondent explained that he
did not submit a written response to the complaint prior to
that day because he was 'overwhelmed by other
things.' The respondent acknowledged that he did not have
a justification for not timely submitting a written response
to the complaint.
In representing L.B. and M.B., the respondent denied
'dropping the ball' with regard to the
'Q [By Ron Paschal] . . . Do you admit you dropped the
ball with regards to your representation of them on this
bankruptcy they hired you to process for them?
'A I don't believe so.
'Q You don't, okay. Explain that to me.
'A The-well, I'm not sure where their-when their
[dis]satisfaction arose. I originally met with [L.B.] in 2017
'A No, I'm sorry, 2011.
'A And in 2011, he had a concern about his truck which
was seriously underwater.
'A He owed a lot of money on his truck and needed his
truck to continue to run his trucking business, he was
concerned about keeping that. We-we talked about what his
options were, and we can go into a lot of detail about that
process, but basically we got to the point in June 2012 when
Kansas Truck Center was going to repossess the truck, and
they either had done it or were about to do it, and so we
needed to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy right away, which we
did. He got to keep the truck.
There was a long, drawn out process in the bankruptcy, but
eventually in April 2013, his Chapter 13 case was confirmed,
and under the Chapter 13 plan, he made payments for a period
of time. And from-as I recall, the-from that day-he started
making payments when we filed the bankruptcy, but from the
date of confirmation, he had another 38 months to go to
complete that Chapter 13 plan. That would have taken him into
the summer of this past year, 2016.
'A Once the plan is completed and the trustee certifies,
the Chapter 13 trustee certifies that the plan has been
completed, at that point, what needs to happen is we need to
file a motion-a certification and a motion for discharge,
certification that he is entitled to a discharge, a motion
requesting that discharge. And while it could have been done
sooner, we were-when I got this complaint, we were still in a
position to do that, and I expected that I would be doing
'A In order to get the discharge, he needed to file-or,
yeah, he needed to file, both of them needed to file
certificates that they had completed the financial management
course, which they hadn't done. In the first indication I
had that there was some problem was I-I noticed that the
certificates were filed and they were filed by somebody else,
not by me.
'Q By another lawyer?
'A By another lawyer, that's correct.
'A And then I received the complaint.
'Q I spoke with both [L.B.] and [M.B.] at some length,
and [L.B.] in particular, he says that he made numerous calls
to your office that weren't returned. ...