ATTORNEY COMPLAINS THAT A CINCINNATI TV STATION AND A NEWSPAPER OBTAINED A COPY OF A KBA INQUIRY COMMISSION DOCUMENT BEFORE HE HAD A CHANCE TO PRESENT HIS DEFENSE AT A HEARING.
LawReader has received a report that a Kentucky attorney against whom an ethics violation has been filed received a call Thursday June 19, from a Cincinnati Television station making an inquiry about a pending complaint against him. Subsequently he received an inquiry from a newspaper that serves Northern Kentucky regarding the complaint. Neither the TV station nor the newspaper would run the story, apparently showing more responsibility then the leaker.
This is the alleged to be the second time this particular attorney has been the subject of confidential KBA discipline information being distributed or leaked to the press improperly.
We will not disclose his name, as we believe that he is entitled to confidentiality until his case is heard.
We believe the following Supreme Court Rule mandates confidentiality of Inquiry Commission Investigations documents until such time as the attorney has had a hearing.
SCR 3.690 Commission records confidential
The files and records of the Commission shall be deemed confidential and shall not be disclosed except in furtherance of the duties of the Commission, as set forth at SCR 3.650, or of the Board, or upon request of the member affected, or as directed by the Supreme Court of Kentucky. This rule specifically excludes from confidentiality information provided by a member to the Commission as a part of a member’s application for relief from the requirements of these rules.
If the rule mandates confidentiality then why was this attorney singled out for a leak? Who singled him out for a leak? Does the leaker have anything to do officially with the KBA? We don’t know the answer to these questions and the KBA has not responded to our request for information. We are hopeful that they will take this leak as seriously as we do at LawReader. Every step should be taken to locate the source of the leak and anyone involved should be recused from participating in any formal proceedings regarding this attorney.
The appearance that there is some degree of bias existing on the Inquiry Commission, or by someone who was entrusted with the complaint documents is certainly raised by this leak.
Maybe these records shouldn’t be confidential. The current Fen Phen trial in Federal Court in Covington might well have been prevented had the KBA informed the Fen Phen class action judge that they had received complaints from one of the Fen Phen attorney’s clients regarding fee issues.
We certainly see the justification for a practice where a Judge sitting on a case in which fees must be set by the court, to be informed of any pending complaints against the attorney in that case. Such a practice might have saved the profession the embarrassment of the Fen Phen disaster.
But until such time that the confidentiality of ethics proceedings is changed by a rule of the Supreme Court, the current rules should be followed