VALERIE L. BOCK V. KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATIONAnnotate this Case
TO BE PUBLISHED
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VALERIE L . BOCK
IN SUPREME COURT
KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION
OPINION AND GIRDER
Valerie Lynn Bock, KBA No . 86343, was admitted to the practice of law
on October 18, 1996 and her bar roster address is 308 North Broadway,
Providence, Kentucky 42450 . On November 1, 2007, this Court suspended
Bock from the practice of law for failing to satisfy her CLE requirements . Bock
was then administratively suspended on January 31, 2008 for not paying her
KBA dues. On February 21, 2008, Bock received a thirty-day disciplinary
suspension in a default disciplinary proceeding based upon five counts of
professional misconduct . Shortly before expiration of that thirty-day time
period, the KBA objected to Bock's automatic reinstatement due to the
pendency of the three separate attorney disciplinary proceedings at bar. As a
result, she has been suspended from the practice of law since November 1,
made contact with the KBA's Lawyers Helping Lawyers Program (now KYLAP) in
April 2004 .
After leaving treatment, Bock continued her solo practice . Based upon a
letter she received from the KBA Client Assistance Program ("CAP"), Bock was
advised that Nabb had been unable to receive either his file or refund from
Bock or Robey. Bock and Nabb subsequently exchanged a number of phone
calls, although Bock acknowledges that her communication did not conform to
the duty imposed upon Kentucky attorneys.
After Nabb filed a Bar Complaint against Bock in mid-July 2004, Bock
obtained Nabb's file from Robey's office, which had received the file at the time
of Bock's termination. The file reflected that Bock performed the initial
research to support the $300.00 amount she received for her pre-suit
investigative services . Bock personally delivered Nabb's file to the law office of
his new counsel.
In February 2005, Bock failed to respond to a letter sent on two
occasions from the Office of Bar Counsel requesting additional information
regarding the Bar Complaint.
In Count I, the KBA charged Bock with violating SCR 3 .130-1 .3, which
provides that "[a] lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in
representing a client." While Bock may have performed the initial portion of
her representation by completing the legal research for which she had been
retained, Bock admits violating this rule because she did not pursue the legal
claim on Nabb's behalf after she accepted the additional $300.00 toward a
$1,000 .00 fee payment. Count II charged her with violating SCR 3.130-1 .4(a),
which states that "[a] lawyer shall : . . . (3) keep a client reasonably informed
about the status of the legal representation [and] (4) promptly comply with
reasonable requests for information." She admits violating this rule by failing
to maintain the level of communication with Nabb as was appropriate under
the circumstances. Count IV charged her with violating SCR 3 .130-8 .1(b),
which states that "a lawyer . . . shall not: . . . (2) knowingly fail to respond to a
lawful demand for information from [a] disciplinary authority." She admits
violating this rule by failing to respond to the two letters from the Office of Bar
While Bock admits to violating the rules as charged in Counts I, II, and
IV, she denies the violation alleged by Count III . Count III charged her with
violating SCR 3.130-1 .16(d), which provides that, -"[u]pon termination of
representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to
protect a client's interests, such as . . . surrendering papers and property to
which the client is entitled . . . ." Bock states that she ultimately retrieved
Nabb's file and turned it over to successor counsel . Bock therefore moves this
Court to dismiss Count III and the KBA has no objection .
KBA File 13763
On May 18, 2005, Tim Gunn, Bock's boyfriend and later husband, was
taken into custody for a suspected DUI while driving Bock's vehicle. Upon
contacting Bock, the police told her that she would need to come to the scene
to provide proof of insurance or her vehicle would be towed.
Bock asserts that, at the time of the incident, she was not aware that her
vehicle insurance lapsed during the previous year. She contends that,
unbeknownst to her, Kenneth Travis, Bock's live-in boyfriend in 2004, had
failed to pay for vehicle insurance bill, instead developing a simulated
insurance card using a computer and a printer. In taking possession of the
card, Bock incorrectly believed that the insurance matter had been properly
Bock was indicted and arraigned in Webster County and the matter was
subsequently resolved in May 2007 . The Circuit Court granted Bock's Motion
to Dismiss the original charge of a felony violation and amended it to a
misdemeanor. She pled guilty to the lower charge.
On May 2, 2008, the Inquiry Commission charged Bock with violating
SCR 3 .130-8 .4(b) in light of her guilty plea to a Class A misdemeanor. Bock
failed to respond to the Inquiry Commission Complaint. She has satisfied, in
full, the probationary terms of her plea agreement to the misdemeanor.
In Count I, the KBA charged Bock with violating SCR 3 .130-8 .4(b), which
provides that "[i]t is professional misconduct for a lawyer to . . . commit a
criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or
fitness as a lawyer in other respects ." Bock admits violating this rule because
she entered a guilty -plea to the knowing presentation of a counterfeit proof of
insurance certificate card regarding motor vehicle insurance coverage. Count II
charged her with violating SCR 3 .130-8 .1(b), which states that "a lawyer . . .
shall not: . . . (2) knowingly fail to respond to a lawful demand for information
from [a] disciplinary authority." She admits violating this rule by failing to file
a response to the Inquiry Commission Complaint.
KBA File 15156
In July 2006, Kevin Rushing sought legal representation from Bock to
recover a $1,000 bond previously posted for his uncle. Rushing, an inmate at
the Henderson County jail, ,indicated that he would pay Bock $250 or $300 if
she would recover the bond and place the net amount in his jail account.
Bock claims that she recovered the proceeds, cashed the bond refund
check per a previous assignment document signed by Rushing, retained her
agreed-upon fee, and tentatively made arrangements to directly deliver the net
amount to Rushing. However, Rushing's mother, Debra Rushing, visited
Bock's office . Debra Rushing knew about-the particulars of Bock's
representation, including the assignment of the bond proceeds document and
the $300 representation fee . Bock posits that Rushing himself could have been
the only person to provide such information to his mother.
Debra Rushing told Bock that she was on her way to visit her son in jail
and that she would take the funds to him per his request. Based upon his
initial letter to her and her visit to him at the jail one week earlier, Bock knew
that Rushing wanted to receive the proceeds as soon as possible. Bock thus
felt that tendering the money to his mother constituted an appropriate means
to deliver the funds to Rushing.
The KBA does not contest Bock's version of events . However, Rushing
would later contend that he never received the bond money. As a result, Bock
was served with a Bar Complaint in early June 2007. She did not file a
response to Rushing's Complaint.
In Count I, the KBA charged Bock with violating SCR 3.130-1 .3, which
provides that "[a] lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in
representing a client." Bock admits violating this rule by failing to directly
forward the bond refund money to Rushing. Count V charged her with
violating SCR 3.130-8 .1(b), which states that "a lawyer . . . shall not: . . . (2)
knowingly fail to respond to a lawful demand for information from [a]
disciplinary authority." She admits violating this rule by failing to respond to
the Bar Complaint.
However, Bock moves this Court to dismiss Counts II, III, and IV, as she
denies that she kept the bond money for herself, giving it instead to Rushing's
mother. Count II charged her with violating SCR 3 .130-1 .15(b), which states
that "[u]pon receiving funds . . . in which a client . . . has an interest, . . . a
lawyer shall promptly deliver to the client . . . [the] funds . . . that the client . . .
is entitled to receive ." Count III charged her with violating SCR 3.130-8 .4(b),
which provides that "[i]t is professional misconduct for a lawyer to . . . commit
a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness
or fitness as a lawyer in other respects." Count IV charged her with violating
SCR 3 .130-8 .4(c), which provides that "[i]t is professional misconduct for a
lawyer to . . . engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or
misrepresentation ." The KBA has no objection to the dismissal of these
Bock admits her misconduct in these matters constitutes a violation of
SCR 3.130-1 .4(a), SCR 3 .130-8 .4(b), two counts of SCR 3.130-1 .3, and three
counts of SCR 3 .130-8 .1(b) . She and the KBA have agreed to a negotiated
sanction pursuant to SCR 3 .480(2) and now request this Court to impose a one
hundred eighty-one day suspension from the practice of law, with ninety days
to serve, and the remaining ninety-one days probated until December 2, 2013,
provided that she continues her participation and compliance with the KYLAP
program. Additionally, she must refund $300.00 to her former client, Van
Nabb, within one hundred twenty days of this Order .
In its response, the KBA contends that the recommended discipline is
appropriate and supported by Kentucky case law. For example, in KBA v.
Herald, 203' S.W .3d 139 (Ky. 2006), three cases against Herald were
consolidated for review . In the first, Herald took no steps to collect a default
judgment she obtained in her client's favor, failed to inform the client that the
judgment had been obtained, and, after her phone was disconnected, did not
notify the client of her new contact information. More than a year after the
default judgment was entered, the judgment debtor filed bankruptcy . The
Board of Governors found Herald guilty of violating SCR 3 .130-1 .3, 3 .1301 .4(a) and (b), and 3 .130-8 .1(b) . She was also found guilty of violating SCR
3 .130-1 .3, 3 .130-8 .1(b), and 3 .,130-3 .4(c) for failing to take any action following
the filing of a notice of appeal for another client even after the Court of Appeals
issued a show cause order demanding a response .to a motion to dismiss the
appeal or the payment of a $140 .00 fine . Herald did not file any response and
paid the fine, albeit belatedly. She subsequently neither informed her client
about the order entered against her nor appeared at the hearing at which the
Court of Appeals ordered her appearance . Subsequent violations arose due to
Herald's failure to communicate with yet another client for over three (3)
months . Herald was found guilty of violating SCR 3 .130-1 .4(a), 3.130-1 .16(d),
and 3 .130-8 .1(b) for failing to tell her client how to contact her after her phone
was disconnected, failing to return a client file, and failing to respond in the
disciplinary matter, respectively. This Court thus suspended her from the
practice of law for one hundred eighty-one days .
In Kentucky Bar Association v. Burlew, 198 S.W.3d 585 (Ky. 2006), two
cases were submitted as defaults after Burlew failed to respond to charges
alleging violations of SCR 3 .130-1 .1, 3 .130-1 .3, 3 .130-1 .4(a) and (b), 3 .130
1 .16(d), 3 .130-5 .5(a), 3 .130-8 .3(c), and two counts of 3.130-8 .1(b) . At the time
the case was considered, Burlew was under suspension for both nonpayment
of bar dues and failure to meet CLE requirements ; he had also been privately
admonished for violating other rules of professional conduct. He received a one
hundred eighty-one day suspension for his conduct, which included
undertaking representation in Indiana despite neither being licensed or
admitted pro hac vice, abandoning his client on the date of pretrial and telling
her to appear and plead guilty, and failing to refund said client's $300.000.
His punishment also stemmed from accepting a $375.00 payment from another
client to prepare adoption papers; he never presented the papers to the client,
did not refund the money, and stopped returning calls .
In Myles v. Kentucky Bar Association, 289 S .W.3d 561 (Ky. 2009), Myles
admitted to a litany of violations spanning four KBA case files, including SCR
3 .130-1 .1, 3 .130-1 .15(a), 3.130-1 .16(d), 3 .130-7.50(1), two counts of SCR
3 .130-1 .15(b), two counts of 3.130-1 .3, two counts of 3 .130-1 .4(a), and two
counts of 3.130-8 .1(b) . Myles resolved the matter through consensual
discipline, receiving a suspension from the practice of law for one hundred
eighty-one days, with all but thirty days probated for five years, conditioned on
his repayment of funds owed to his client.
Agreeing that the negotiated sanction proposed in Bock's motion is
appropriate, it is ORDERED that :
1 . Valerie Lynn Bock shall be suspended from the practice of law for
one hundred eighty-one days, of which ninety days are to be served
and the balance of ninety-one probated until December 2, 2013,
subject to the following conditions :
A . Continued compliance with the terms and provisions
of the Supervision Agreement dated December 2, 2008
with the Kentucky Lawyers Assistance Program.
B . Execution of a Release and Authorization to permit the
Office of Bar Counsel to obtain information from the
Kentucky Lawyers Assistance Program concerning
Bock's compliance with the terms of the Supervision
C . Under the Charge in KBA File 12040, Bock shall
refund Van Nabb the sum of $300 .00 within one
hundred twenty days of this Opinion and Order
Granting Bock's Motion and furnish proof to the Office
of Bar Counsel.
D. In the event that during the probationary period Bock
violates the terms of the Supervision Agreement or
fails to pay the required refund, the Kentucky Bar
Association, through the Office of Bar Counsel, may
file a Motion for the imposition of the probated period
of suspension .
2 . Pursuant to SCR 3 .390, Bock shall, within ten days from the entry
of this Opinion and Order, notify all clients with Kentucky cases in
writing of her inability to represent them, and notify all courts in
which she has matters pending of her suspension from the
practice of law, and furnish copies of said letters of notice to the
Director of the KBA. Furthermore, to the extent possible and
necessary, Bock shall immediately cancel and cease any
advertising activities in which she is engaged; and
3 . Count III of the Charge in KBA File 12040 and Counts II, III, and
IV of the Charge in KBA File 15156 are hereby dismissed.
4. In accordance with SCR 3 .450, Bock shall pay all costs associated
with these proceedings, said sum being $348 .08, for which
execution may issue from this Court upon finality of this Opinion
All sitting. All concur.
ENTERED : March 24, 2011 .