Legal Ethics

Lawyer lied about mother's death to excuse discovery delay, ethics officials allege

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Illinois disciplinary authorities allege a lawyer lied about his mother’s death and his own health to explain the reason for delays in two cases.

The lawyer, Keith Joseph Hays, resigned from the Indiana bar in April, according to a state website. A document filed with the Illinois Supreme Court says Hays consents to disbarment in Illinois as well, the Legal Profession Blog reports.

According to the May 19 statement of charges, Hays lied about the reason for delayed discovery and for a delayed hearing in two Indiana cases, and made settlement offers without authorization in a third case.

In a case in which Hays defended a Staples store in a personal injury suit, Hays said he hadn’t fully responded to discovery requests because his mother been “killed in a violent car accident in the state of Colorado,” the statement of charges says

Hays said his mother died in “the fire and smoke inhalation from the resulting conflagration,” and he was “was left scrambling between Indiana, Colorado and Idaho for weeks trying to get his mother buried, her estate resolved and her pets adopted.” His mother had neither died nor been involved in a car accident, the statement of charges says.

In another civil suit in which Hays represented Reed & Company, Hays said in an emergency motion to delay a hearing that he had been diagnosed with “double pneumonia” and sent to the emergency room the day before. Hays didn’t have pneumonia and had in fact billed his client for time spent working when he was purportedly incapacitated, the statement of charges says.

Story updated on May 27 to correct spelling of “Hays” in the last paragraph.

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