An Arkansas Supreme Court panel in July fined Monticello attorney Kenneth A. Harper $500 and ordered him to pay $500 restitution for misconduct in his representation of a client.
Harper, in January 2012, told Steve Conley, a Tennessee-licensed attorney representing Abernathy Motorcycle Sales in a legal matter involving F&F Custom Boats, that he would be willing to represent Abernathy Motorcycle Sales in registering a Tennessee judgment in Drew County and collecting that judgment.
Conley sent Harper a package containing a letter dated January 3, 2012, a check for the agree-upon retainer fee, and a copy of the Tennessee judgment.
Conley thereafter wrote Harper on March 7, March 26, May 16, June 4, and June 22, requesting information about the status of the registration and collection efforts. Harper failed to respond to each request.
Conley then referred the matter to the Arkansas Supreme Court Office on Professional Conduct.
On August 8, 2012, the Office of Professional Conduct sent Harper a letter, outlining the facts provided by Conley and requested that Harper contact Conley within 10 days to discuss the status of the matter.
On August 21, 2012, Conley contacted the Office of Professional Conduct by fax to advise Harper had not contacted him.
On August 22, 2012, Stark Ligon, executive director of the Office of Professional Conduct, emailed Harper a copy of the Office of Professional Conduct’s August 8, 2012 letter and Conley’s August 21 letter. Harper failed to respond to Ligon’s email.
Harper filed a response to the Conley’s complaint and admitted the allegations.
Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct found that:
– Harper violated Rule 1.3 when he failed to register a Tennessee judgment with the Drew County Circuit Court. Rule 1.3 requires that a lawyer act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.
– Harper violated Rule 1.4(a)(3) when he failed to keep his client, Abernathy Motorcycle Sales, a Tennessee client who was represented by Conley informed about whether a Tennessee judgment had been registered in Arkansas. Rule 1.4(a)(3) requires that a lawyer keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter.
– Harper violated Rule 1.4(a)(4) when he failed to respond to requests for information on March 7, 2012, March 26, 2012, May 16, 2012, June 4, 2012, June 22, 2012, and telephone calls from Conley about whether the Tennessee judgment had been registered in Arkansas. Rule 1.4(a)(4) requires that a lawyer promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.
– Harper violated Rule 8.1(b) when he failed to respond to an August 8, 2012, letter from the Office of Professional Conduct requesting that he contact Conley to advise of the status of the registration of the Tennessee judgment and when he failed to respond to an August 22, 2012, email from Ligon requesting that he respond to the request for information. Rule 8.1(b) requires that an applicant for admission to the bar, or a lawyer in connection with a bar admission application or in connection with a disciplinary matter, shall not fail to disclose a fact necessary to correct a misapprehension known by the person to have arisen in the matter, or knowingly fail to respond to a lawful demand for information from an admissions or disciplinary authority, except that this rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.
The Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct cautioned Harper, fined him $500, and directed to pay $500 restitution to Abernathy Motorcycle Sales. Harper was also assessed $50 in costs for his conduct in the matter.