A prominent local attorney has been disciplined by Kentucky Supreme Court for failing to adequately represent one of his clients.
Timothy Crawford, of Corbin, was found guilty late last month of four counts of professional misconduct, and has been barred from practicing law for 30 days because of the decision. An ordered was entered by the Kentucky Supreme Court disciplining Crawford on March 24.
According to the order, Crawford was hired to represent Brenda Martin on a Social Security disability benefits claim in mid-2008. Martin had previously been denied disability benefits with the Kentucky Retirement System (KRS).
Crawford requested a hearing, on her behalf, with the Social Security Administration (SSA) on May 5, 2008. Seven days later, the SSA asked for additional documentation from Crawford about the case, but he never responded. Follow up letters sent by the SSA on Oct. 15 and Nov. 6 also went unanswered. Martin’s case was dismissed on Nov. 28, 2008.
The Supreme Court order says Crawford filed an "Entry of Appearance" with the KRS on Martin’s behalf on Oct. 30, 2008 and participated in a telephonic conference on Nov. 7, 2008 requesting a continuance for the hearing on Jan. 16, 2009. He did no other work for her on the matter.
Martin attempted to contact Crawford numerous times before terminating him as her attorney on Sept. 25, 2009. She filed a bar complaint days later.
Crawford filed no response to the bar complaint. Additionally, officials had difficulty serving notice to Crawford of the complaint. On July 14, 2010 Crawford was charged with misconduct on four separate counts. He was unanimously found guilty and the board recommended he be prohibited from practicing law for 30 days, noting he had no prior disciplinary record. The board also recommended he attend and pass the Ethics Professionalism Enhancement Program (EPEP) and pay the costs of the program.
The Kentucky Supreme Court was asked to enforce the recommendations, and did so.
Crawford was also ordered to pay $447.21 for the cost of disciplinary proceedings against him.
Crawford has an office at he corner of Main Street and Roy Kidd Avenue in Corbin. He is well regarded statewide as an attorney particular familiar with education law. He serves as Board Attorney for the Whitley County Board of Education, Knox County Board of Education; as well as for school districts in McCreary, Jackson, Estill and Perry Counties. He is also board attorney for city school districts in Barbourville and Middlesboro.
Whitley County Board of Education Board Chairman Delmar Mahan said Tuesday that Crawford had notified them of his impending suspension. The board is currently using London attorney Larry Bryson for legal advice.
"I think the whole thing was clerical in nature and it’s just a matter of getting some things ironed out," Mahan said about Crawford’s suspension. "There was some miscommunication."
Mahan said, as far as he’s concerned, the board intends to use Crawford as its attorney again when his suspension is complete.
"Oh yeah. He is one of the lead education attorneys in the state of Kentucky," Mahan said. "I feel completely comfortable with that."
It isn’t entirely clear when Crawford’s suspension began. Mahan said it would be a "matter of a few days or a week" until Crawford could practice law again.
Attempts to contact Crawford at his law office Tuesday were unsuccessful.