You can read the full opinion on the Kansas Supreme Court website.
In short, this attorney represented adoptive couples. In two cases, the biological father of the child asserted a desire to take custody. The attorney filed motions to terminate the father’s parental rights, claiming they abandoned the child and/or failed to provide support to the mother after finding out that the mother was pregnant. However, in both cases, the father was unaware of the pregnancy until after the child was born, and only days before the petition to terminate the parental rights of the father was filed.
In one of these cases, the father appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court, which reversed the lower courts and ordered the district court to make arrangements to transfer custody of the child to his biological father. The other case was reversed by the Court of Appeals, citing the first case in doing so.
The Attorney preemptively notified the Disciplinary Administrator of the Supreme Court’s opinion. The Supreme Court also transmitted the opinion to the Disciplinary Administrator.
The Disciplinary Administrator recommended an 18-month suspension, while a panel of the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys recommended a six-month suspension. In rejecting the lesser penalties, the Supreme Court stated:
In effect, respondent used the legal process to traffic children. It is not hyperbole to put the matter this starkly, and we can think of no breach of trust more significant or damaging than this. Our legal system depends on the highest standards of professionalism, integrity, truthfulness, and trustworthiness of our lawyers. […] A lawyer cannot come back from a breach of trust so grave. The confidence of the public and the sanctity of the rule of law can only be protected and preserved by meting out the most serious sanction available to us — disbarment.
In Kansas, a disbarred attorney may petition to be reinstated after five years. While there is no mechanism for the Kansas Supreme Court to prohibit an attorney from petitioning for reinstatement, the above quote would indicate that the Supreme Court is prejudiced against reinstatement.
He is also on the bar in Missouri. It would be interesting to see if the Missouri Supreme Court will choose to order a “reciprocal disbarment” or give him one of the suggested lesser sanctions.