St. Louis Record

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Kansas attorney reciprocally disciplined following allegations regarding employee's IRA

By Karen Kidd | May 23, 2018

Gavel

JEFFERSON CITY – Lawrence, Kansas attorney Brandy L. Sutton has been suspended indefinitely following a May 16 Missouri Supreme Court order following her suspension in Kansas over allegations that she mishandled an employee's retirement account.

The Missouri Supreme Court will consider an application for Sutton's reinstatement after six months for the date of its order. The Missouri Supreme Court's order followed a chief disciplinary counsel motion for reciprocal discipline filed with the court. Sutton also was ordered to pay costs in the matter.

Sutton, who practices with the Pendleton and Sutton firm in Lawrence, was suspended for three years in Kansas this past December following a Kansas Supreme Court proceeding in discipline.

Allegations against Sutton stemmed from her offering to her employees participation in a simple individual retirement account (IRA) as an employment benefit, in which she agreed to match of up to 3 percent of salary, according to the Kansas Supreme Court proceeding in discipline.

An associate attorney with the firm reviewed her account in May 2015, when the associate attorney had resigned from Sutton's firm to work for another, and allegedly found that Sutton had made inconsistent deposits into the associate attorney's IRA. The associate attorney claimed a shortfall of about $9,000 and offered in a letter to Sutton to settle the matter for $20,000. The associate attorney filed a complaint after Sutton failed to respond to the letter and its settlement offer, the Kansas court stated.

Sutton did respond to the complaint, saying her law firm was suffering financial difficulties and that she had secured enough funds to settle the firm's debts. A Kansas hearing panel noted Sutton has "now made all employees and former employees financially whole" and recommended three years of supervised probation.

In its December proceeding in discipline, the Kansas Supreme Court handed down a three-year suspension but ordered that Sutton may apply for probation after six months if she and an appointed disciplinary administrator can agree to a 30-month probation plan.

The proceeding in discipline indicated that the Kansas Supreme Court justices were split over Sutton's discipline but did not say which justices were in the minority, beyond nothing that Justice Carol Beier did not participate.

Sutton was admitted to the bar in Kansas in 1998 and had no prior discipline in Kansas, according to the proceeding in discipline.

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Missouri Supreme CourtKansas Supreme CourtPendleton and Sutton