Legal Ethics

Ruling gets lawyer a 1-year suspension for misconduct

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Lawyer Keven A. McKenna has been suspended from the practice of law for one year.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court, in a ruling Friday, found that McKenna had, among other things, deliberately tried to disrupt and delay a Workers’ Compensation Court proceeding, failed to disclose income to a U.S. Bankruptcy Court, ignored a subpoena and operated his law practice under an unauthorized limited liability corporation, the Providence Journal reports.

“The integrity of the justice system is not served when an attorney, who has been sworn to tell the whole truth in a proceeding, refuses to answer simple, straightforward questions, whether posed by the court or by opposing counsel,” the majority said in a 37-page opinion. “Nor is it served by an attorney who disregards an order of this court, fails to respond to a subpoena, or deliberately misrepresents his assets to a bankruptcy trustee.”

Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg, in a partial dissent, said she believed McKenna deserved a two-year suspension.

“In the face of this egregious misconduct, this sanction does scant justice and overlooks the sad fact that this lawyer of many years refuses or is unable to accept the authority of the Supreme Court over the conduct of attorneys,” she wrote.

McKenna, a former state representative and municipal court judge, disputed the facts and the reasoning of the decision, which he said was issued in retaliation for his criticism of the court.

In 2011, McKenna had sued Chief Justice Paul Suttell and others for allegedly violating his constitutional rights for launching what he claimed was an unjustified investigation of his law practice outside of the normal attorney disciplinary process.

“They took everything out of context and are using that as an excuse to get at me for criticism of them,” McKenna said. “I am the only attorney that the Supreme Court has ever hired a special prosecutor to look for little allegations against. I’ll be back. I am not finished with them.”

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