In the Matter of Timothy J. Grillot, Respondent.
ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN DISCIPLINE
Stanton A. Hazlett, Disciplinary Administrator, argued the
cause, and Penny R. Moylan, Deputy Disciplinary
Administrator, was with him on the formal complaint for the
J. Ambrosio, of Ambrosio & Ambrosio, Chtd., of Topeka,
argued the cause, and Timothy J. Grillot, respondent, argued
the cause pro se.
an original proceeding in discipline filed by the office of
the Disciplinary Administrator against the respondent,
Timothy J. Grillot, of Independence, an attorney admitted to
the practice of law in Kansas in 1982.
April 10, 2018, 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 timely filed an answer to the
complaint on April 24, 2018. Stipulations signed by
respondent and the office of the Disciplinary Administrator
were filed June 4, 2018. A hearing was held on the complaint
before a panel of the Kansas Board for Discipline of
Attorneys on June 5, 2018, where the respondent was
personally present and was represented by counsel. The
hearing panel determined that respondent violated KRPC 1.1
(2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 289) (competence); 1.3 (2018 Kan. S.Ct.
R. 292) (diligence); 1.4(a) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 293)
(communication); 1.5 (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 294) (fees); 1.15
(2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 328) (safekeeping property); 1.16(d)
(2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 333) (termination of representation);
3.3(a)(1) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 344) (candor toward tribunal);
8.4(b) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 381) (commission of a criminal act
reflecting adversely on the lawyer's honesty,
trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer); 8.4(c) (engaging in
conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or
misrepresentation); and 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct
prejudicial to the administration of justice).
conclusion of the hearing, the panel made the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law, together with its
recommendation to this court:
In 2005, a jury convicted N.H. of capital murder and several
drug offenses. His convictions were affirmed by the Kansas
Supreme Court on April 15, 2010.
On April 13, 2011, N.H. filed a pro se K.S.A.
60-1507 motion in Montgomery County District Court, case
number 11-CV-000071. The motion was legally insufficient. On
April 13, 2011, N.H. also filed a pro se motion for
a continuance to supplement his petition with specific
grounds for relief and a pro se motion for
appointment of counsel.
On August 19, 2011, the district court granted N.H.'s
motion for a continuance to supplement his K.S.A. 60-1507
motion and appointed Rustin Rankin to represent him.
Mr. Rankin did not file any supplemental pleadings within the
time period provided by the district court. However, on
November 15, 2011, N.H. filed a pro se motion
seeking additional time to file a memorandum in support of
his K.S.A. 60-1507 motion. The district court did not rule on
the motion. On December 20, 2011, N.H. filed an untimely
pro se memorandum in support of his K.S.A. 60-1507
On February 15, 2013, the State filed a motion to dismiss the
K.S.A. 60-1507 motion. The court held a hearing on the motion
to dismiss in April, 2013. The district court provided N.H.
with an opportunity to present evidence. Mr. Rankin, who
appeared with N.H. at the hearing, declined that offer and
advised the court that he and his client would rely on the
pro se motion and memorandum filed by N.H. On August
16, 2013, the district court denied N.H.'s K.S.A. 60-1507
motion. (Mr. Rankin was later disbarred for conduct unrelated
to his representation of N.H. See In re
Rankin, 302 Kan. 181, 351 P.3d 1274');">351 P.3d 1274 ).
Mr. Rankin filed a timely notice of appeal and the district
court appointed the appellate defender's office to
represent N.H. Later, on April 1, 2014, the district court
appointed the respondent to represent N.H. in the appeal.
On October 14, 2014, the respondent filed the initial brief
with the Kansas Court of Appeals. The brief failed to contain
appropriate citations to the record as required by Rule
6.02(a)(4) (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 34). Consequently, after
receiving notice from the Clerk of the Appellate Courts, the
respondent filed a corrected brief on October 24, 2014.
The sole argument raised by the respondent in the
appellant's brief was that Mr. Rankin provided N.H. with
ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, the
respondent mistakenly alleged that Mr. Rankin, not N.H.,
filed the supplemental memorandum in support of the K.S.A.
60-1507 motion after the deadline had passed. The respondent
presented no arguments in support of extending the deadline
to prevent manifest injustice. Finally, the respondent did
not specify the relief he sought for N.H.
On October 30, 2015, the Court of Appeals affirmed the
district court's dismissal of the action. The Court of
Appeals noted that N.H.'s appeal hinged 'on the
effectiveness of Rankin in handling the 60-1507 motion in the
district court. But we haven't an appellate record from
which to determine why Rankin did what he did or more aptly,
perhaps, why he seemingly didn't do much of
anything.' N.H. v. State, No. 111, 794, 2015 WL
6629778 at 2 (Kan. 2015) (unpublished opinion). The Court of
Appeals further noted that N.H. did not request a remand to
the district court for a Van Cleave hearing to
determine whether Mr. Rankin's representation was
ineffective before the district court. N.H., 2015 WL 6629778
at 2. See State v. Van Cleave, 239 Kan. 117, Syl.
¶ 2, 716 P.2d 580 (1986) ('When appellate counsel in
a criminal case desires to raise the issue of ineffective
assistance of counsel and that issue has never been ruled
upon by the trial court, defendant may seek a remand of the
case to the trial court for an initial determination of the
issue. In doing so, the procedure for remand to consider
newly discovered evidence explained in State v.
Shepherd, 232 Kan. 614, 657 P.2d 1112 (1983), and set
forth in this opinion, should be followed.').
The Court of Appeals concluded its opinion by noting that
N.H. Could bring another K.S.A. 60-1507 motion 'premised
on the twin arguments that inadequate legal representation in
this proceeding deprived him of a fair hearing on the
underlying constitutional challenges to his convictions and
that he has challenges warranting judicial
consideration.' N.H., 2015 WL 6629778 at 2.
On November 20, 2015, the respondent purportedly sent a copy
of the appellate decision to N.H. However, N.H. never
On April 9, 2016, and May 14, 2016, N.H. sent the respondent
letters inquiring about the status of the appeal. The
respondent did not respond to N.H.'s inquiries.
In November, 2016, N.H. contacted the Clerk of the Appellate
Courts and learned that the Court of Appeals had affirmed the
district court's dismissal of his K.S.A. 60-1507 motion.
On January 12, 2017, N.H. filed a complaint with the
disciplinary administrator's office. The respondent
cooperated in the disciplinary investigation.
On November 3, 2015, the respondent filed a petition for
issuance of letters of administration in Labette County
District Court case number 15-PR-65PA, entitled In the
Matter of the Estate of A.V., Deceased and K.D., Deceased and
Dissolution of the A.V. and K.D. Trusts. The petition
a. A.V. died testate on July 21, 2013, a resident of Labette
County, Kansas, and a citizen of the United States;
b. A.V. was survived by her husband, K.D., who died on August
28, 2013, in India; and
c. the decedents' beneficiaries and heirs consisted of
A.V.'s two nephews (R.K. and V.K.) and K.D.'s
daughter (A.T.), all of whom resided in India. In the
petition, the respondent requested that he be appointed as an
emergency administrator for the purpose of preserving the
estate's assets, at that time estimated at $157, 000.
Also on November 3, 2015, the respondent filed consents
executed by R.K. and V.K. for the respondent to serve as the
emergency administrator without bond, a petition for the
issuance of emergency letters of administration, and the
respondent's oath as emergency administrator. The court
entered an order appointing the respondent as emergency
A hearing on the petition and dissolution of the trusts was
originally scheduled for January 11, 2016. However, the
matter was continued. The court scheduled a status hearing
for August 25, 2016. The respondent and an attorney retained
by A.T. appeared. The parties advised the court that a
dispute had arisen between the heirs and beneficiaries.
The matter was continued on several occasions until January
2017. Throughout the time period, the parties informed the
court that they were attempting to resolve the dispute, but
were struggling with language and communication barriers with
the clients. During the January 2017 status hearing, the
court set the matter for trial on May 10, 2017, but
encouraged the parties to agree on stipulated facts to avoid
the need for the parties, who all resided in India, to appear
On April 26, 2017, A.T.'s attorney filed a motion for the
respondent to file an inventory and accounting and to inform
the parties of the tax status of the estates.
On May 10, 2017, the district court learned that the parties
had made no progress on resolving their dispute.
The district court appointed Lucas Nodine to be the estate
administrator and ordered that the respondent's
appointment as emergency administrator terminate. The
district court provided the respondent with 30 days to
prepare an inventory of the estates' assets, to prepare
an accounting of any receipts or disbursements during his
time as emergency administrator, and to prepare a report
regarding the tax status ...