JEFFERSON CITY (St. Louis Record) — Hallsville attorney Vernan L. Pierce has been disbarred and St. Louis attorney Kelly M. Brown Hayes is on probation following recent and separate Missouri Supreme Court orders and a local news report.
Pierce's disbarment by default followed an investigation and findings by the Missouri Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel that there is probable cause that Pierce is guilty of professional misconduct, according to the Supreme Court's June 25 order. Pierce allegedly violated rules of professional misconduct regarding trust accounts and property of others, and other misconduct, according to the order
Pierce's alleged professional misconduct involved converting funds from a trust account for his own use, according to a Columbia Daily Tribune news story.
Pierce "knowingly misused a client’s settlement funds to pay law office and personal expenses," the news story said, citing "information filed with the court" by the office of chief disciplinary counsel
"Court documents in the case show Pierce deposited a $6,500 personal injury settlement check into a trust account on July 17, 2017," the news story said. "Between the date of deposit and late August 2017, Pierce transferred the entirety of those funds to his firm operating account, a violation of rules governing the Missouri Bar and judiciary."
Pierce borrowed money from a family member to repay his client, according to the news story.
Pierce was admitted to the bar in 2012 but did not begin practice until 2016 when he opened a law office in Hallsville, according to the news story.
Pierce failed to timely file an answer or other response, though he was properly serviced, according to the court's order. He has not been in good standing since May 9, according to a clerk's notation in the case.
In a separate order, St. Louis attorney Kelly M. Brown Hayes has been placed on probation following a July 1 Missouri Supreme Court order and her suspension for nonpayment of enrollment fees.
The state court placed Hayes on two years' conditional probation and issued an order reinstating her after Hayes tendered payment of all delinquent enrollment fees and penalties. The court also ordered Hayes to pay all costs in the matter.
Hayes was admitted to the bar in Missouri June 11, 1992, according to her profile at The Missouri Bar's website.