State Supreme Court orders suspension of Elizabethtown attorneyâ€™s license
Sara Bennett Reporting
(Elizabethtown, KY) - An Elizabethtown attorney is set to be temporarily suspended from practicing law after the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld a recommendation by the Board of Governors of the state’s bar association.
Ronald E. Hines has had a license to practice law in Kentucky since 1987 and operates from an office on North Main Street in Elizabethtown.
Hines initially was charged with 22 counts of violating the Rules of Professional Conduct guiding Kentucky’s lawyers. The state’s highest court issued an opinion and order June 20 finding Hines guilty of six of the allegations, according to the court’s order.
The court ultimately upheld a recommendation by the board of the Kentucky Bar Association to suspend Hines’ license to practice law in the state for 120 days. He also must pay $15,805.16 in court costs, according to the order.
According to the Kentucky Supreme Court Clerk’s Office, though an opinion has been entered, the case remains open until June 30 for anyone to file a motion or response.
The state bar association handles the revocation of Hines’license, according to the clerk’s office.
Amy Carman, director of communications at the bar association, said Friday that Hines’ license remains active at this time but would not comment further.
Hines did not return phone calls to his office Friday requesting comment.
According to the Kentucky Supreme Court’s order, Hines was the subject of four disciplinary cases filed with the bar association. Two cases involved a family-run corporation owning land in Perry County while the others pertained to cases in Jefferson and Hardin counties.
Hines was found not guilty of allegations involving the Jefferson County case.
The allegations in Hardin County stemmed from a civil suit filed in circuit court, according to the order. Hines represented a plaintiff in a dog-bite case in 2007, and according to the order, the defendants did not file a response to the complaint though the dog’s owner sent a letter to Hines.
The attorney shared a copy with his client but did not do so with the court before moving for a default judgment — a motion that must be accompanied with a certificate by the attorney that no “papers” have been served by the opposing party.
According to the court, the defendants appeared for a later hearing and it was not until then the court learned the dog’s owner delivered a letter to Hines.
“Hines admitted to receiving the letter but stated he had not disclosed it because he did not consider it to be a sufficient answer,” the Supreme Court decision reads.
Four counts were levied against Hines in connection to the Hardin Circuit Court case, but the court found him guilty of two — failing to advise the trial court in the motion for default judgment that he had received a letter from a defendant and knowingly or intentionally disobeying an obligation under the Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure.
According to the Supreme Court, it was Hines’ responsibility to share the letter with the court so the judge could evaluate whether the defendant intended to respond.