- Associated Press - Sunday, December 25, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A longtime Topeka lawyer has been officially disbarred from practice because of how he handled two clients’ estates, according to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling.

In the unanimous ruling Friday, the high court disbarred Bruce C. Harrington, saying he “violated his duties to his clients, to the legal system, to the profession, and to the public.” The violations “caused actual injury to his clients, the legal system and the profession,” the Supreme Court decision said.

Harrington, who has been a lawyer for 48 years, represented himself in the disciplinary action and disputed the claims, The Topeka Capital Journal reported (https://j.mp/2hEFr9Y ).

The court’s ruling said Harrington wrote himself checks over several years on the checking account of one client and spent more than $25,000 from a second client’s estate.

The disciplinary document said that in the first matter, Harrington used his durable power of attorney to write checks totaling $30,946 on the account of a woman with dementia, and that Harrington eventually returned $10,000.

In the other case, Harrington redeemed about $53,000 worth of U.S. Savings Bonds from a client’s estate and paid half the money to children of the dead man. The court said $25,505 was to be paid to the man’s widow, and $2,475 was for Harrington’s fees. The court said, however, that “over time, (Harrington) converted the funds belonging to (the widow) and used the proceeds for personal expenses.”

When one of the children told Harrington to deposit the $25,505 in the Kansas Unclaimed Property Fund, he borrowed $25,000 and placed it in the fund, the document said. Harrington contended that his $25,000 payment in the Kansas Unclaimed Property Fund resulted in no harm to his client, making disbarment unwarranted.

The court did not agree.

“More importantly, however, even a full restitution at that point would not have negated the fact that (Harrington) converted his client’s funds for his personal use, an ethical violation of the highest order,” the court wrote.


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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