An unlicensed lawyer appears to have been signed to Geary County’s indigent contract, according to new Commissioner Trish Giordano.

A lawyer from Hutchinson, Sam S. Kepfield, had his license to practice law suspended for 18 months in March of 2019 with three years of supervised probation after the fact. According to Giordano, she checked Monday morning to see if Kepfield had gotten his license back and found that he had not. According to a report in the Hutchinson News from March of 2019, Kepfield had his license suspended by the Kansas Supreme Court for “misconduct in violation of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct for lack of diligence; terminating the representation of a client; failure in safekeeping property; making a false statement in connection with a disciplinary matter; misconduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or representation; and violating his probation plan by violating the professional rules."

Kepfield, Giordano said, was approved at last week’s county commission meeting to serve under the Geary County's indigent contract.

Giordano broached the issue during Monday’s county commission meeting, shortly after taking her seat on the commission for the first time. She said she planned to speak with County Counselor Steve Opat about the matter, to find out how and why Kepfield was appointed.

Lawyers on the indigent contract serve people in Geary County who cannot afford their own legal representation. Because these lawyers are on contract with the county, Giordano said, they receive a set fee whether they hear cases or not.

“He’s suspended for disciplinary issues,” she said. “I know that there was an email sent out saying that even if he does get his license back, he’s going to have to have supervision. So I don’t know — I just don’t think it’s cost-effective for us to have somebody like that if we can’t use them and that needs to be addressed asap.”

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