Justia Legal Ethics Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court

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On February 5, 2016, Governor Sam Brownback received statutorily required notice of District Magistrate Judge Tommy Webb’s departure from the bench. On June 15, 2016, three judges filed this petition for a writ of mandamus seeking a writ requiring the governor to immediately appoint an interim district magistrate judge for Haskall County. Specifically, Petitioner alleged that the governor failed to appoint a successor district magistrate judge in violation of Kan. Stat. Ann. 25-312a, which states that any “appointment made by the governor…shall be made within 90 days following receipt of notice….” The Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of mandamus, holding that the ninety-day time limit for the governor’s appointment of a district magistrate judge is directory rather than mandatory under precedent and is thus a discretionary act not subject to mandamus. View "Ambrosier v. Brownback" on Justia Law

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This case arose as an interpleader action to settle the rights to one-half of a brokerage commission resulting from a residential real estate transaction. Reece & Nicholas Realtors, Inc. (RAN), the listing broker, refused to split the brokerage commission with Patrick McGrath, who acted as the broker for the buyer. McGrath was a licensed Kansas attorney but was not licensed under the Kansas Real Estate Brokers' and Salespersons' License Act (KREBSLA). RAN contended it was statutorily prohibited from paying a commission to any person not licensed under the KREBSLA. McGrath maintained that, as an attorney, he was exempt from the requirements of the KREBSLA. The district court granted RAN's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an attorney is exempt from the provisions of the KREBLA, including the prohibition against splitting a fee with a nonlicensee, only to the extent he or she is performing activities that are encompassed within or incidental to the practice of law; (2) this attorney exemption does not create an exception to the commission-splitting prohibition of KREBSLA; and (3) consequently, an attorney who is not licensed under the KREBSLA cannot share in a real estate brokerage commission. View "Stewart Title of the Midwest v. Reece & Nichols Realtors" on Justia Law

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In 2004, Plaintiff sued Defendant, a doctor, alleging negligence. Attorney Scott Mann represented Plaintiff, and an attorney from Bretz Law Offices allegedly agreed to assist as co-counsel. The district court judge granted Defendant's motion to disqualify the Bretz firm and Mann from continued representation of Plaintiff because an associate at Defendant's attorney's firm had left there and gone to work for the Bretz firm. In 2009, Mann entered his appearance for Plaintiff in district court. The district judge granted Defendant's motion to disqualify Mann. On interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district judge abused his discretion in extending the 2004 imputed disqualification of the Bretz firm to Mann because (a) there was no substantial competent evidence to support the legal conclusion that Mann must also be subject to imputed disqualification, and (b) the district judge failed to conduct an appropriate legal analysis of whether Mann was part of the Bretz firm; (2) the district judge's imputed disqualification of the Bretz firm in 2004 exerted no preclusive effect in the 2009 dispute over Mann's status; and (3) Mann was not subject to disqualification in 2009 because he was not likely to be a necessary witness on causation.