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|June 3, 2016, Appellate Court Digests|
Kansas Supreme Court – Attorney Discipline
Original Proceedings in Discipline
FACTS: The Disciplinary Administrator filed a formal complaint against Haitbrink on June 21, 2015. It was alleged that Haitbrink violated KRPC 1.4(a) (communication); 1.8(h)(1) (making an agreement limiting the lawyer's liability to a client for malpractice); 1.15(a) (safekeeping property); 1.16(d) (termination of representation); 2.1 (exercise of independent professional judgment); 8.3(a) (reporting professional misconduct); and Supreme Court Rule 207(c) (failure to report action). Haitbrink has a history of working with clients on renegotiating residential mortgage loans, and he has a prior history of discipline because of that work. The current case stems from his attempt to modify a loan for his clients. Despite not being able to secure a modification, Haitbrink did not refund fees as promised. Haitbrink also attempted to limit his malpractice liability by including a "hold harmless" provision in his contract.
HEARING PANEL: A hearing panel of the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys conducted a hearing to consider the complaint filed by Haitbrink's clients. The hearing panel determined that Haitbrink committed several violations of disciplinary rules, including failing to deposit fees into a trust account, failing to communicate with his clients, and failing to inform the Disciplinary Administrator about discipline in Washington state. The Disciplinary Administrator recommended that Haitbrink be suspended from the practice of law. The hearing panel believed that Haitbrink should be allowed to practice, but it wanted conditions attached to his continued practice, and it believed that Haitbrink should be censured.
HELD: Given his continued efforts to make restitution to his former clients, the Disciplinary Administrator changed its position and recommended public censure. The court accepted that recommendation and imposed the discipline of published censure.