With the latest numbers out in the Congressional races, it appears the Democrats in Arkansas have a front-runner in Hot Springs attorney Q. Bryum Hurst.
Hurst raised $102,489 last month and has $95,310 cash-on-hand in the latest financial report for the period ending March 31, 2012. While this shows Democrats seem to be rallying around Hurst as their preferred nominee, one has to wonder how much vetting went into his candidacy.
A quick search at the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct shows that Hurst has a troubling record as an attorney in Arkansas. He has had been cited 10 times by the Committee with citations spanning from 1983 through the most recent one in 2009.
The list includes 5 reprimands and 5 cautions with the most recent including a fine of $25,000.
The Committee’s most recent report states that their mission is “to maintain appropriate standards of professional conduct in order to protect the public and the administration of justice from lawyers who have demonstrated by their conduct that they are unable or are likely to be unable to properly discharge their professional duties.”
The Committee reviews complaints filed against licensed attorneys in Arkansas and can issue five sanctions including: a warning (not public), a caution, a reprimand, license suspension, and initiating disbarment proceedings.
Five of the citations have links to the report on the website.
The most recent citation involves a complaint from Barbara Primm, the sister of a former client, David Williams. Primm employed Hurst to defend her brother Williams who was charged with several counts of rape. Hurst was paid a $25,000 retainer, but according to the complaint failed to appear at hearings and file motions on Williams’ behalf. The Committee ordered Hurst to repay the $25,000 and found that he violated Rule 1.16(d) in failing to “take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client’s interests.”
The other citations online appear to be similar complaints from former clients, including a 2007 caution issued from a complaint from former client Lee Jablonski, who Hurst was representing in a divorce; a 2004 caution issued from a complaint from former client Milton Morris charged with second degree murder; a 2003 reprimand issued from a complaint from former client Johnny Paul Dodson; and a 2002 caution issued from Jacinto Henderson.
Although it is not unheard of for a trial lawyer to have a citation or two issued against them over a career, ten is quite high. The Committee has over 11,000 licensed attorneys in Arkansas under its jurisdiction. According to their annual report, they issue on average around 66 citations a year.
A call to the number listed for the Hurst campaign was not answered.
UPDATE – I am still waiting on a statement from the Hurst campaign but he did briefly respond to the sanctions in an article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette by Sarah Wire who is covering the south Arkansas campaign.
“I’ve represented people who were not satisfied, not completely satisfied. In the volume of cases there are very, very few, but I regret that. I have had some issues in the Committee on Professional Conduct and, you know, it’s just a part of practicing law,” Hurst told Wire.