RICHMOND, Ind. - Clients of suspended Richmond attorney Edward Thomas Kemp are frustrated with Kemp’s conduct and told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney their attorney has been unreachable for months.
Records show the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission suspended Kemp’s license on July 3 for failing to complete his continued legal education.
Documents also show, on Wednesday, the court ordered Kemp to respond in writing within 10 days with why he should not be suspended immediately from the practice of law due to failure to cooperate with the commission’s investigation of a grievance against him.
The commission also opened and closed three other inquiries in 2013 in which Kemp was ordered to show cause as to why he should not be suspended.
In the 2013 inquiries, Kemp cooperated before a suspension took effect, records show.
David Butler filed a complaint against Kemp with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.
“I wrote (Kemp) a check for $1,000 and I said let’s go,” said Butler. “After a few weeks I didn’t hear nothing, nothing was filed. Several phone calls, no return phone calls.”
Butler said Kemp never did the necessary work on this case and he hasn’t heard from Kemp in two years.
“I had to retain another lawyer to finish everything up for me,” said Butler. “If I pay you a thousand dollars, I expect you to do a thousand dollars’ worth of work.”
Don Rader also filed a complaint with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission regarding Kemp.
Rader said he hired Kemp in March 2013 to handle their deceased father’s estate, but said Kemp’s been unreachable for months.
“I want to see him brought to justice whatever that might be,” said Rader.
Joe Phenis said he hired Kemp in June 2013, paying him $750 to handle a DUI expungement, but said Kemp never filed the final paperwork.
“It was real frustrating,” said Phenis, who said Kemp was unreachable for months. “That’s just not right.”
Phenis said a judge ended up helping him get the paperwork filed.
“I appreciate the judge doing that but he shouldn’t have had to,” said Phenis.
The Call 6 Investigators stopped by Kemp’s home, called and texted him but did not receive a response back.
His private 8th Street office in Richmond is now closed and the public defender’s office told Kenney that Kemp stopped working for them last month after a year with the agency.
While working at the public defender’s office, Kemp represented Charles Hyde, a former Richmond attorney facing 26 criminal theft charges for allegedly stealing from his clients.
Hyde was arrested last summer, but his case has yet to go to trial in Wayne County.
Hyde resigned from practice, according to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys.
Don Rader said a day after the Call 6 Investigators texted and called Kemp, Kemp did turn over Rader’s file to Rader’s new attorney who is now handling the estate.
Rader has also contacted the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and the Wayne County prosecutor’s office seeking criminal charges against Kemp.
Kemp has not been charged with a crime.
"I'd like to see him disbarred and not practice law in the state of Indiana again,” said Butler. “We all work for our money. We don't have money to throw away like this. "
According to attorney Marcia J. Oddi, author of the Indiana Law Blog, disbarment is rare in Indiana.
“Rather than disbarment, in egregious cases the court often will suspend a lawyer from practicing law for a set period without automatic reinstatement,” said Oddi in an email to RTV6. “A reason the Court may prefer not to disbar but to suspend is that the Court retains jurisdiction over a suspended lawyer.”
Supreme Court spokesperson Kathryn Dolan said in fiscal year 2012/2013, there were no disbarments.
“The court also has the ability to suspend an attorney for a certain amount of time or until the court decides the attorney can ask for reinstatement,” said Dolan.
The attorney has to petition for reinstatement.
A criminal conviction does not necessarily mean an attorney will be disbarred or sanctioned, Dolan said.
If you have a complaint about an attorney you’ve hired, you can file a complaint with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, although much of their investigations are not public record.
You can also seek assistance from the Indiana State Bar Association who has a fund established for people the association feels have been victimized by dishonest lawyers.