Columbia-based public defender disciplined for neglecting clients

By Karen Kidd | Sep 16, 2017

Columbia attorney and public defender Karl William Hinkebein received a stayed suspension and one year of probation following a Sept. 12 Missouri Supreme Court order over allegations he abandoned six clients.

A hearing panel concluded in October that Hinkebein violated court rules by failing to represent his clients diligently and failing to keep his clients reasonably informed about the status of their cases, according to the high court's order. Hinkebein admitted to those violations, according to his own 23-page brief filed with the court.

Hinkebein also said he suffers chronic, severe health problems that detrimentally affected his performance, that he has a strong work ethic and does high-quality work but he was carrying a large workload and felt he could not turn down cases, according to his brief.

Hinkebein's probation began the date of the court's order, which also required him to pay $1,500.

Should Hinkebein's probation be revoked, his law license will be suspended indefinitely with no petition for reinstatement being considered for six months from the date the suspension becomes effective, according to the high court's order.

Hinkebein was admitted to the bar in Missouri on Oct. 1, 1993, according to his profile at the Missouri State Bar’s website.

Disciplinary proceedings began in March 2016 against Hinkebein, who works in the appellate post-conviction relief division of the Missouri State Public Defender Office, following a complaint filed by a client, according to the court's order. Hinkebein allegedly failed to communicate with six clients and circuit courts found the attorney had abandoned the clients after failing to file an amended motion for post-conviction relief on their behalf, according to the order.

The cases were reassigned by the public defender's office the clients' new attorneys were allowed to file amended post-conviction relief motions, according to the order.

Hinkebein was placed on an employee improvement plan that required he notify a supervisor should he be unable to meet filing deadlines and to use a calendaring system so those deadlines could be monitored, according to the order.

The chief disciplinary counsel had asked the court to suspend Hinkebein’s law license for one year while Hinkebein argued for a reprimand, according to the order.

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