FOR THE RESPONDENT
FOR THE INDIANA SUPREME COURT DISCIPINARY COMMISSION
Donald R. Lundberg, Executive Secretary
Seth T. Pruden, Staff Attorney
115 West Washington Street, Suite 1165
Indianapolis, IN 46204
SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
IN THE MATTER OF )
) CASE NO. 45S00-0009-DI-558
KENNETH W. DAVIDSON )
January 30, 2002
Today we find that lawyer Kenneth Davidsons repeated criminal acts, coupled with the
abandonment of his law practice without regard for the interests of his clients,
warrants his permanent disbarment from the practice of law.
The Commission instituted this attorney disciplinary action with the filing of a three-count
verified complaint for disciplinary action. A hearing officer appointed by this
Court heard evidence on the compliant at a hearing that the respondent failed
to attend. This case is now before us for final resolution upon
the hearing officers findings of fact and conclusions of law. Where neither
the Commission nor the respondent petitions this Court for review of those findings,
as they are permitted to do under Ind.Admission and Discipline Rule 23(15), we
adopt the hearing officers factual findings while reserving final judgment as to misconduct
and sanction. Matter of Campbell, 702 N.E.2d 692 (Ind. 1998).
The respondent was admitted to the Bar of this state in 1990.
Under Count I, we now find that on September 15, 1995, the respondent
stopped his vehicle in Hammond, Indiana to tell two policemen that he had
been in an accident with another driver. The officers, suspecting the respondent
was intoxicated, attempted an arrest. The respondent physically assaulted the officers, refused
to be handcuffed, threatened to spit on them, shoved them against their car,
and attempted to get back into his vehicle. The respondent also threatened
to shoot the officers and claimed to have influence over the police department
by virtue of his friendship with a particular judge. The officers handcuffed the
respondent and transported him to jail.
By September 21, 1995, the respondent had been charged with public intoxication, resisting
law enforcement, intimidation, battery on a police officer, and possession of paraphernalia, all
misdemeanors. The respondent failed to appear at his initial hearing, resulting
in a bench warrant being issued. He surrendered to the court a
month later and the warrant was recalled. He failed to appear at
his guilty plea hearing on April 30, 1996, resulting in the issuance of
another arrest warrant. The respondent surrendered two months later, the warrant was recalled,
and the respondent entered a plea agreement on May 30, 1997. He
failed to abide by the agreed terms of the plea, prompting the court
to issue an order to appear, which the respondent failed to obey.
A third arrest warrant was issued. On March 24, 2000, the
respondent was arrested in Porter County and charged with driving with a suspended
license, a class A misdemeanor. Police arrested him again on an identical
charge on July 16, 2000. He ultimately pled guilty to both charges.
We find that the respondent committed criminal acts which reflect adversely on his
honesty, trustworthiness, and fitness as an attorney in other respects, in violation of
Ind.Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(b).
See footnote By failing to appear in court on three
different occasions in his own criminal prosecutions, the respondent engaged in conduct prejudicial
to the administration of justice in violation of Prof.Cond.R. 8.4(d). By stating
that he wielded influence over the Hammond Police Department due to his friendship
with a judge, the respondent violated Prof.Cond.R. 8.4(e) by stating an ability to
influence improperly a government agency or official.
Under Count II, we now find that on September 7, 1995, the judge
of the Porter Superior Court ordered the respondent and his client to appear
on October 3, 1995 for a sentencing hearing. The respondent failed to
appear on October 3. The client reported that she had been unable
to contact the respondent prior to the hearing. The respondents office telephone
had been disconnected and his home phone number changed to an unpublished number.
By failing to appear at his clients sentencing hearing, the respondent did not
act with reasonable diligence and promptness during his representation of the client, in
violation of Prof.Cond.R. 1.3. By failing to respond to her reasonable requests
for information regarding her case or to keep her reasonably informed about the
status of her case, he violated Prof.Cond.R. 1.4(a).
Pursuant to Count III, we find that a client hired the respondent in
November 1992 to represent her in two civil suits, paying the respondent a
retainer of $700. The respondent thereafter closed his law practice without notifying
the client and without taking any action on her behalf.
We find that his actions under Count III violate Prof.Cond.R. 1.3 and 1.4(a).
Further, by failing to refund the clients retainer, the respondent violated Prof.Cond.R.
1.16(d), which requires lawyers, to the extent reasonably practicable, to protect a clients
interests upon termination of representation.
In aggravation of the respondents acts, the hearing officer found that Indiana Bureau
of Motor Vehicle records reveal that between 1992 and 2000, the BMV sent
to the respondent 15 notices that his license was suspended. Those records
further indicate that the respondent failed to appear for his own court hearings
in traffic cases at least five times between 1987 and 1993.
The respondents serious and persistent criminal behavior and his sudden abandonment of his
law practice without regard to his clients clearly demonstrates that he is unfit
to continue to serve as an officer of this Court. This determination
is consistent with that found in cases of similar attorney misconduct.
of DeArmond, 620 N.E.2d 698 (Ind. 1993) (disbarment for improper withdrawal of representation,
misdemeanor battery of estranged spouse, and felony battery of mother); Matter of Moody,
428 N.E.2d 1257 (Ind. 1981) (disregard of the laws of the state, court
procedures and judicial officers leading to client injury and impediment of the administration
of justice warrants disbarment). Accordingly, we find that the respondent, Kenneth W. Davidson,
should be disbarred. The Clerk is directed to strike his name from
the Roll of Attorneys.
The Clerk of this Court is further directed to provide notice of this
order in accordance with Admis.Disc.R. 23(3)(d) and to provide the clerk of the
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the clerk of each
of the United States District Courts in this state, and the clerks of
the United States Bankruptcy Courts in this state with the last known address
of respondent as reflected in the records of the Clerk.
Costs of this proceeding are assessed against the respondent.
See, e.g., Matter of McClure, 652 N.E.2d 863 (Ind. 1995) (offenses
involving violence represent conduct that indicates a lack of characteristics relevant to the
practice of law); Matter of Martenet, 674 N.E.2d 549 (Ind. 1996) (general indifference
to legal standards of conduct violated Prof.Cond.R. 8.4(b)).