An area attorney has been disbarred after a Supreme Court ruling came down nearly a year after he was placed on suspension.
Michael P. Kelly, of Potosi, was disbarred on Tuesday after the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel (OCDC) filed documents advising the Missouri Supreme Court of its findings of an investigation. Kelly was licensed to practice law in 1984 and his license was suspended with no leave to apply for reinstatement for one year in an order dated in May.
According to court documents, the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel believed Kelly to be guilty of professional misconduct. Also the Chief Disciplinary Counsel sent numerous requests allowing Kelly to file an answer or other response. Kelly failed to file a timely response.
On Aug. 22, information was received charging Kelly with misconduct, along with notices that were sent to him with no response.
On Dec. 5 a letter was again sent to disciplinary authorities and Kelly, and the Supreme Court Advisory Committee noted Kelly’s failure to file an answer.
Kelly’s disciplinary history includes violations of rules on diligence (a lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client) in 1993, 2000, 2007, and 2013 and violations of rules on communication (a lawyer shall keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information) in 1993 and 2000. He also failed to respond to disciplinary authorities in 2007.
Court documents state he was suspended in 2017 stemming from a disciplinary case involving four different clients. The Supreme Court concluded he violated rules involving competence, diligence, communication, dishonest conduct, and termination of representation. It also found he failed to deposit an advance fee in a trust account and failed to provide accounting for fee when requested.
The last allegations were that Kelly agreed to handle legal matters for three separate clients, accepted fee payments for the work and never completed the work. He has been non-responsive to his clients who want their files and money back.
The court documents state Kelly’s abandonment of his clients, his failure to communicate with his clients or the OCDC, and his long disciplinary history, along with his suspension, as well as the sheer volume of his rule violations, supported the disciplinary counsel’s recommendation that he be disbarred.
In addition to his disbarment, at least one person has filed a civil suit against him in an attempt to recover funds given to Kelly for representation.
That individual alleges she hired him for a bankruptcy case and did everything Kelly had asked. In return, she never heard back from him. After months of attempting to get in touch with Kelly with no results, she is being sued for debts that were claimed in the bankruptcy, is broke, has no home and relies on others to survive.
Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or firstname.lastname@example.org