Criminal Justice

Cleared of Wrongdoing re Paper's Prison Sex Story, Lawyer Calls Ethics Panel's Advice 'Ridiculous'

Updated: A Kansas lawyer said he is relieved that a “dark cloud” over his head has been lifted, with a ruling by the Kansas Board for the Discipline of Attorneys that he committed no ethics violation by helping a newspaper reporter write about prison sex.

However, Keen Umbehr said he did nothing wrong when bringing a Topeka Capital-Journal reporter into the Topeka Correctional Facility to help his client expose alleged illegal sex and contraband trafficking at the facility. Hence, he objects to a review committee’s suggestion that another time he should have researched prison rules about media visits or clearly identified the reporter as a member of the media to prison officials, reports the Capital-Journal in an article today.

“For the disciplinary panel to make this recommendation is ill-advised and ridiculous,” he told the newspaper.

Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Jan Lunsford told the Capital-Journal that the agency “has no response at this time.”

Accounts differed about what was said about the reporter at the time, as an earlier Capital-Journal article explained. The prison complained that Umbehr misrepresented the reporter as his legal assistant; the attorney said he simply called the reporter an assistant and officials there asked no further questions.

Finding that the ethics case against Umbehr wasn’t proven by the requisite clear and convincing evidence, the review committee cleared him.

Earlier coverage: “Lawyer in Hot Water for Helping Newspaper Reporter Write About Prison Sex”

Updated at 5:51 p.m. to include Lunsford’s comment.

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