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In re Docking
Kansas Supreme Court
869 P.2d 237 (1994)
Kent Docking (defendant) had practiced law for one year when he agreed to represent three Korean nationals who were facing felony criminal charges for aggravated kidnapping. Docking did not speak Korean and used an interpreter only occasionally. Docking also did not ask any other attorney to associate with him on the case. Docking never informed the clients about his possible conflict of interest in representing all three, gave them incorrect advice about making a plea deal, failed to fully investigate the case, failed to file a potentially successful motion to suppress one client’s incriminating statement, gave the clients inaccurate advice about their rights to appeal, and did not try to protect his clients from deportation. As a result of Docking’s representation, all three clients entered pleas of guilty that they did not intend to make. The trial court would not let the clients withdraw the mistaken pleas, and all three were sentenced to between five and 20 years in prison. The clients filed motions claiming that Docking’s inexperienced representation had denied them their constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel. Docking testified on behalf of the clients, admitting his mistakes and inexperience. The court found that Docking’s representation had denied the clients a fair trial and vacated the criminal sentences. The prosecution declined to retry the case, and the clients were released after spending two and a half years in prison. A formal complaint was filed against Docking for several violations of the rules of professional responsibility, including handling a matter that he knew or should have known he was not competent to handle. Docking stipulated to the underlying facts and agreed with the recommendation that he should receive a public censure, i.e., reprimand. The Kansas Supreme Court reviewed the recommendation in order to make a final decision.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
Concurrence (Abbott, J.)
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