IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE CITY OF PORTSMOUTH
VIRGINIA STATE BAR, EX REL
SECOND DISTRICT - SECTION I SUBCOMMITTEE
v. Chancery No. 02-48
LINDA LEA KENNEDY
Having been certified for hearing
by the Second District Committee - Section I, and the Respondent, Linda Lea
Kennedy, having requested a hearing before a three-judge panel pursuant to Virginia
Code ß 54.1-3935, this matter came on for hearing on July 15 and July 16, 2002,
before a three-judge panel consisting of the Honorable John E. Clarkson, William
L. Winston and Glen A. Tyler, Chief Judge. The Virginia State Bar appeared through
its Assistant Bar Counsel Paul D. Georgiadis. The Respondent attorney appeared
Upon due consideration of the testimony and documentary evidence, the Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that material facts in dispute, including issues of credibility, are resolved in favor of the Virginia State Bar. The Court finds that Respondent's evidence and testimony on disputed facts are not credible in view of the documentary evidence presented, much of which consists of Respondent's own documents.
The Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that Respondent has violated DR 2-105(A) by charging her client for admission to the U.S. District Court and for a copy of the court rules, which are overhead items not billable to a client. The Court also finds that Respondent failed to adequately explain to her client the co-counsel fee of $18,750 paid to Lanis Karnes on April 19, 1999, and failed to obtain client's consent to such. The Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent and her client agreed that Karnes' co-counsel fees would be paid by the Respondent from any contingency fee due to the Respondent, not money due to the client.
The Court finds by clear and convincing
evidence that Respondent has violated DR 7-102 (A)(1) and DR 7-102 (A)(2). On
January 19, 1999, Respondent was found by the U.S. District Court magistrate
to have made an argument in Sherry M. Grayson v. Milcom Systems Corporation
for an improper purpose and without merit. Respondent not only failed to challenge
that finding in subsequent proceedings before the U.S. District Court but sought
to have the finding upheld in the settlement of the case. The evidence is clear
and convincing that the U.S. magistrate had a basis in fact for the finding.
The Court further finds by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent has violated DR 9-102(A)(2) by disbursing funds from her trust account to herself and others, the entitlement to which was the subject of disputes between Respondent and her client. Respondent disbursed such disputed funds to herself and others to the extent that she appropriated to herself and others all of the money recovered in the settlement, including that money due her client.
WHEREFORE, it is ORDERED that:
Respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED for her violations of DR 2-105(A) arising from billing her client for office overhead;
Respondent's license to practice law is hereby SUSPENDED for a period of one year from the date of this order for her violations of DR 2-105(A) for her payment of co-counsel fees without adequate explanation or agreement;
Respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED for her violations of DR 7-102 (A)(1) and DR 7-102 (A)(2); and
Respondent's license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia is hereby REVOKED for her violations of DR 9-102(A)(2).
It is further ORDERED that:
Pursuant to the provisions of Part
Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13(K)(1) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia,
the Respondent shall forthwith give Notice by Certified Mail, Return Receipt
Requested, of the suspension and revocation of her license to practice law in
the Commonwealth of Virginia, to all clients for whom she is currently handling
matters and to all opposing attorneys and presiding judges in pending litigation.
The Respondent shall also make appropriate arrangements for the disposition
of matters then in her care in conformity with the wishes of her client. The
Respondent shall give such notice within fourteen (14) days of the effective
date of this order, and make such arrangements as are required herein within
forty-five (45) days of the effective date of this order.
Respondent shall also furnish proof to the Clerk of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary System within sixty (60) days of the effective date of this order that such notices have been timely given and such arrangement for the disposition of matters made. Issues concerning the adequacy of the notice and arrangements required herein shall be determined by the Disciplinary
Board, which may impose a sanction
of revocation or suspension for failure to comply with the requirements of this
Pursuant to Part Six, §IV, ¶13(K)(10) of the Rules of the Supreme Court, the Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall assess costs.
Pursuant to Rule 1:13, Respondent's endorsement is dispensed with.
A copy teste of this Order shall be mailed by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, to the Respondent, Linda Lea Kennedy, at her last address of record with the Virginia State Bar, 416 London Place, Portsmouth, Virginia, 23704, and mailed via First Class Mail to Assistant Bar Counsel Paul D. Georgiadis, Eighth & Main Building, Suite 1500, 707 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219-2800.
The court reporter for the hearing was Stefania Smith at Ronald Graham and Associates, Inc., Court Reporters, 5344 Hickory Ridge, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23455-6680 [telephone - (757) 490-1100].
ENTER: / /
Glen A. Tyler
Chief Judge Designate
John E. Clarkson
William L. Winston
I Ask For This:
Virginia State Bar
Paul D. Georgiadis, VSB # 26340
Assistant Bar Counsel
Virginia State Bar
707 E. Main Street, Suite 1500
Richmond, Virginia 23219