Thinking Ethics The Attorney Diversion Program, 050112 KSBJ, Vol. 81 J. Kan. Bar Assn 5, 9 (2012)

Thinking Ethics The Attorney Diversion Program

Vol. 81 J. Kan. Bar Assn 5, 9 (2012)

Kansas Bar Journal

May 1, 2012

Stanton A. Hazlett, Kansas Disciplinary Administrator

The attorney diversion program went into effect on September 18, 2001, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 203(d). The program was tailored after a similar program in Arizona, which was the first state to adopt such a program. Kansas was one of the first 10 states to institute a diversion program. The purpose of the program is to protect the public by improving professional competency of Kansas lawyers by providing educational, remedial, and rehabilitative programs. Generally, the program is available only to lawyers who have had no prior discipline, and lawyers are not eligible if the conduct involved self-dealing, dishonesty, or breach of fiduciary duty. It is described as an alternative to traditional disciplinary procedures.

A respondent is notified of the attorney diversion program at the time of the docketing of a complaint. The respondent must request a referral to the diversion program prior to the disciplinary administrator's report to the review committee. The review committee consists of three Kansas lawyers, and it decides whether probable cause exists to conclude that the attorney has violated the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct. If a finding of probable cause is made, the review committee then determines whether the respondent should have a hearing, be informally admonished, or be admitted into the attorney diversion program.

In determining whether a respondent is eligible for diversion, the review committee must decide if diversion can reasonably be expected to alter the respondent's behavior and to minimize the risk of similar future misconduct. The review committee will certainly consider the complainant's position regarding diversion, but the opposition of the complainant does not prevent the granting of a diversion. If the review committee grants a request for diversion, a meeting is then scheduled between the Disciplinary Administrator's Office and the respondent to negotiate an agreement to address the misconduct and the problems being experienced by the respondent. The respondent must agree to a stipulated set of facts and agree that rules have been violated. If the respondent cannot agree that the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct have been violated or to a stipulated set of facts, then he is entitled to a hearing. The failure of...

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