In the Matter of Sam S. Kepfield, Respondent.
proceeding in discipline. Opinion filed March 15, 2019.
Probation revoked; one-year suspension reinstated; additional
consecutive three-year suspension imposed, stayed after six
months to begin three years' supervised probation.
Matthew J. Vogelsberg, Deputy Disciplinary Administrator,
argued the cause, and Stanton A. Hazlett, Disciplinary
Administrator, and Penny R. Moylan, Deputy Disciplinary
Administrator, were on the formal complaint for the
J. Ambrosio, of Ambrosio & Ambrosio, Chtd., of Topeka,
argued the cause, and Sam S. Kepfield, respondent, argued the
cause pro se.
an original proceeding in discipline filed by the office of
the Disciplinary Administrator against the respondent, Sam S.
Kepfield, of Hutchinson, an attorney admitted to the practice
of law in Kansas in 1989.
April 3, 2015, the court suspended respondent's license
to practice law for a period of one year for violating Kansas
Rules of Professional Conduct (KRPC). Imposition of that
discipline was suspended and respondent was placed on
supervised probation for a period of three years. See In
re Kepfield, 301 Kan. 662');">301 Kan. 662, 670, 346 P.3d 332 (2015).
March 14, 2018, the office of the Disciplinary Administrator
filed a formal complaint against respondent alleging new
violations of the KRPC. On March 29, 2018, the respondent
timely filed an answer to the formal complaint. In his
answer, the respondent generally admitted to violations of
April 11, 2018, the Disciplinary Administrator filed a motion
with this court to revoke respondent's three-year
supervised probation. Thereafter, the chairperson of the
Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys entered an order
consolidating the motion to revoke respondent's probation
with the pending formal complaint. See Rule 211(g)(10) (2018
Kan. S.Ct. R. 251).
8, 2018, the hearing panel called the consolidated matters.
Respondent appeared in person and by counsel. Before the
hearing began, respondent stipulated to certain facts and
rule violations alleged against him in the formal complaint.
Specifically, respondent stipulated his conduct violated KRPC
1.1 (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 289) (competence); 1.3 (2018 Kan.
S.Ct. R. 292) (diligence); 1.4 (2018 S.Ct. R. 293)
(communication); 1.15(a) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 328)
(safekeeping property); 1.16(d) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 333)
(terminating representation); and 8.4(c) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R.
381) (misconduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or
misrepresentation). Because the respondent admitted to rule
violations, the panel heard evidence on the merits of the
formal complaint and motion to revoke probation as well as
evidence in aggravation and mitigation at the same time.
respondent stipulated to violating KRPC 1.1 and 1.4, after
hearing additional evidence, the panel concluded respondent
did not violate these rules. Further, the panel concluded
respondent did not violate KRPC 3.1 (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 343)
(meritorious claims and contentions) and 3.3 (2018 Kan. S.Ct.
R. 344) (candor toward the tribunal). Accordingly, these four
allegations were dismissed.
majority of the hearing panel determined respondent violated
KRPC 1.3 and 1.16(d). The panel unanimously determined that
respondent violated KRPC 1.15(a); 8.1(a) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R.
379) (false statement in connection with disciplinary
matter); and 8.4(c).
the hearing panel concluded the respondent violated certain
Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct as alleged in the formal
complaint, the panel determined respondent violated certain
terms and conditions of his current probation plan. See Rule
211(g)(11) (2018 Kan. S.Ct. R. 251).
the hearing, the panel made the following detailed findings
of fact and conclusions of law, together with its
recommendation to this court:
"Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law . . .
"8. On April 3, 2015, in case number 112, 897, the
Kansas Supreme Court placed the respondent on probation for
having violated Rules 1.2 (scope of representation), 1.3
(diligence), 1.4(a) (communication), and 1.16(d) (terminating
representation). In re Kepfield, 301 Kan. 662');">301 Kan. 662, [670,
] 346 P.3d 332 (2015).
"9. In placing the respondent on probation, the court
'In this case, we are persuaded that respondent's
misconduct was largely a product of his depression, which is
being successfully monitored and treated. We also note his
effort to make full restitution of the fee paid by J.L.,
despite financial challenges, and his attendance at attorney
support group and Twelve Step meetings. We therefore hold
that the discipline jointly recommended by the Deputy
Disciplinary Administrator and respondent should be imposed.
'CONCLUSION AND DISCIPLINE
'IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Sam S. Kepfield be and is
hereby disciplined by a one-year suspension from the practice
of law, imposition of which is suspended immediately, and
placement on three years' supervised probation, as
outlined in his probation plan. See Supreme Court Rule
203(a)(2) (2014 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 306).'
"10. The respondent's probation plan, adopted by the
Kansas Supreme Court, provided:
'Respondent is a fifty (50) year old criminal
practitioner. His practice consists of appointed and retained
criminal work. The Respondent has several clients whom he
represents on Domestic matters. However, he is closing out
those files and has decided to eliminate that portion of his
'Respondent has been sanctioned on two prior occasions,
both were informal admonitions.
'Respondent's major challenge, as with many sole
practitioners, is that he does not have anyone to turn to for
advice nor does he have support staff to handle the
administrative portion of his practice.
'Sarah McKinnon of Hutchinson, Kansas has agreed to act
as supervisor for the Respondent. Proposed supervising
attorney is a practicing lawyer handling similar types of
cases as Respondent. She is the chief public defender of Reno
County. Ms. McKinnon knows the Respondent and has worked on a
number of cases with him over the years.
'Further, Ms. McKinnon is Respondent's KLAP monitor.
'PROPOSED PROBATION PLAN
'1. The Respondent's practice will be supervised by
Sarah McKinnon, a licensed attorney in good standing in
'2. The Respondent shall allow Ms. McKinnon access to his
files, calendar, operating account and trust account records.
'3. Respondent shall comply with any requests made by the
'4. During the first year and a half of supervision, the
Respondent shall meet with the supervising attorney once a
week. Said meeting shall be face-to-face.
'5. During the final six months of the probation period,
the Respondent shall meet with Ms. McKinnon per her
'6. Ms. McKinnon shall prepare and submit a detailed
monthly report to the Disciplinary Administrator regarding
Respondent's status on probation.
'7. Ms. McKinnon shall conduct an immediate and detailed
audit of the Respondent's files.
'8. Six months after the completion of the first audit,
Ms. McKinnon shall conduct a second audit of the
'9. At the completion of the supervised probation, Ms.
McKinnon shall conduct a final audit.
'10. After each audit, Ms. McKinnon shall prepare and
submit a report regarding same to the Disciplinary
'11. Should Ms. McKinnon discover any violations of the
Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct, she shall include such
information in her report to the Disciplinary
Administrator's Office to facilitate investigation of the
'12. Ms. McKinnon shall provide the Respondent with a
copy of each report referenced above.
'13. Respondent shall follow all recommendations of his
supervisor and shall immediately correct all deficiencies
noted in Ms. McKinnon's periodic reports and audit
'14. The supervisor shall determine whether
Respondent's office procedures are appropriate and
effective. The supervising attorney shall confirm that
Respondent has an appropriate calendaring system, method of
notifying clients for hearings and scheduled meetings,
billing procedures, as well as appropriate methods for
tracking client and opposing counsel contact, including
documenting all phone messages and phone contacts.
'15. At the weekly meetings, Respondent and supervisor
shall review all new cases and discuss the course of action
to be taken as to each. Further Respondent shall discuss all
potential problems he has noted in each of his cases.
'16. Respondent and supervisor shall review the following
week's schedule in order to assure that notices have been
sent to all appropriate parties, that appropriate preparation
has been carried out, and that all updates to the files have
'17. Ms. McKinnon shall be acting as an officer and agent
of the Court while supervising the Respondent in monitoring
his legal practice. The supervisor shall be afforded all
immunities by Supreme Court Rule 223 (2003 [sic]
Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 306), during the course of this activity
and pursuant to this Order.
'18. Respondent shall follow the voluntary monitoring
agreement entered into with KLAP on June 24, 2014. (attached)
'19. The Respondent shall continue to cooperate with the
Disciplinary Administrator's Office. If the Disciplinary
Administrator requires any further information, the
Respondent shall timely provide said information.
'20. The Respondent shall not violate the provisions of
his probation or the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct. In
the event the Respondent violates any of the terms of his
probation or any of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct
during the probationary period, the Respondent shall
immediately report such violations to his supervisor and the
'21. Respondent shall follow the dictates of Supreme
Court Rule 211(g).
'22. Respondent shall pay the costs in an amount to be
certified by the Disciplinary Administrator's
On April 11, 2018, the disciplinary administrator filed a
motion with the Kansas Supreme Court to revoke the
respondent's probation. In support of the motion, the
disciplinary administrator alleged:
'1. On April 3, 2015, this court ordered that Respondent
be disciplined by a one-year suspension from the practice of
law. The court further ordered that the one-year suspension
be suspended immediately, and the Respondent be placed on
three years' supervised probation, as outlined in the
Respondent's probation plan.
'2. The Respondent's probation plan provided, in
relevant part, that "Respondent shall not violate the
provisions of his probation or the Kansas Rules of
'3. On December 7, 2017, the Kansas Board for Discipline
of Attorney's Review Committee determined probable cause
existed to find that Respondent had violated one or more
provisions of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct
(KRPC), and directed that a Formal Complaint be filed.
'4. On March 14, 2018, a Formal Complaint, in Case Nos.
DA 12, 657 and DA 12, 710, was filed against Respondent,
alleging violations of KRPC 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.15, 1.16, 3.1,
3.3, 8.1, and 8.4.
'5. On March 29, 2018, the Respondent filed an answer to
the Formal Complaint, admitting most of the facts pled
within, and admitting to unspecified violations of the KRPC.
'6. Kansas Supreme Court Rule 211(g)(9) provides that
"upon receiving other credible evidence that the
Respondent has violated one or more probation conditions, the
Disciplinary Administrator may file a motion to revoke
probation with the Supreme Court and the Chairman of the
Board for Discipline of Attorneys. The filing of such a
motion shall automatically suspend the running of probation
time and continue the supervision until the motion is
On April 13, 2018, John D. Gatz, Chairman of the Kansas Board
for Discipline of Attorneys, entered an order of
consolidation under Rule 211(g)(10). The order provided:
'On this 13th day of April, 2018, the Disciplinary
Administrator's Amended Motion to Revoke Probation and
consolidate the hearing on the Motion to Revoke Probation
with the formal complaint filed in DA12, 657 and DA12, 710
comes before the Chairman of the Kansas Board for Discipline
'The Chair finds as follows:
'1. After a Motion to Revoke Probation is filed, the
Chairman of the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys is
required to "immediately appoint one Board Member of the
Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys to conduct an
expedited hearing, or consolidate with a pending matter to
determine whether the Respondent has failed to comply with
one or more probation conditions." Kansas Supreme Court
'2. A hearing on the formal complaint filed In the
Matter of Sam S. Kepfield, DA12, 657 and DA12, 710 is
currently scheduled for May 8, 2018.
'3. The Motion of the Disciplinary Administrator to
Revoke Probation and determine whether Respondent has failed
to comply with one or more probation conditions should be and
is hereby consolidated with the formal complaint filed in