State ex rel. Boynton v. Perkins

Decision Date27 January 1934
Docket Number31500.
Citation138 Kan. 899,28 P.2d 765
PartiesSTATE ex rel. BOYNTON, Atty. Gen., v. PERKINS.
CourtKansas Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court.

There is no rule of comity between states requiring Supreme Court to admit to general practice of law in state citizen of state because he previously had been admitted to practice of law in another state.

Supreme Court has jurisdiction to inquire into authority by which one assumes to practice law in state, and to make appropriate orders relating thereto (Rev. St. 1923, 7-- 102, 7--123, rule 9, 7--111, 60--1602; Const. art. 3, § 3).

Proceedings in nature of quo warranto by state on the relation of Attorney General held appropriate for inquiring into authority of one to practice law.

It is function of Supreme Court to admit only properly qualified persons to practice of law, to suspend or expel those found unworthy, and to prevent practice of law by unauthorized persons.

Facts held to establish that defendant was engaged in "practice of law" without license (Rev. St. 1923 7--102, 7--123, rule 9, 7--111, 60--1602; Const. art. 3, § 3).

As the term is generally understood, the "practice of law" is the doing or performing services in a court of justice in any matter depending therein, throughout its various stages and in conformity to the adopted rules of procedure. But in a larger sense it includes legal advice and counsel, and the preparation of legal instruments and contracts by which legal rights are secured, although such matters may or may not be depending in a court.

1. There is no rule of comity between states which requires this court to admit to the general practice of the law in this state a citizen of this state because of the fact that previously he had been admitted to the practice of law in another state.

2. This court has constitutional, statutory, and inherent jurisdiction to inquire by what authority one assumes to practice law in this state and to make appropriate orders relating thereto. A proceeding in the nature of quo warranto by the state on the relation of the Attorney General is appropriate for that purpose.

3. In the interpretation of the laws and the administration of justice it is essential that there be members of the bar of ability, adequate learning, and sound moral character. One of the important functions of this court is to admit only such persons to the practice of the law, to suspend or expel those found unworthy, and to prevent the practice of law by unauthorized persons.

4. What constitutes the practice of the law is discussed.

5. On the facts pleaded and admitted, defendant is found to have been engaged in the practice of law without authority to do so, and he is ordered and directed to cease doing so.

Original quo warranto proceeding by the State, on the relation of Roland Boynton, Attorney General, against H. M. Perkins otherwise known as Herman McCoy Perkins.

Judgment for plaintiff.

Roland Boynton, Atty. Gen., and Everett E. Steerman, Asst. Atty Gen. (T. F. Railsback and Fred Robertson, both of Kansas City, of counsel), for plaintiff.

H. M. Perkins, pro se.

HARVEY Justice.

This is an action in quo warranto inquiring into the authority of defendant to practice law in this state and asking for appropriate orders in relation thereto. The petition alleges briefly that defendant is, and has been for more than twenty years, a resident of Kansas City, Wyandotte county, in this state; that he has never been admitted to practice law in any of the courts of the state, and is lacking in the educational and professional qualifications of an attorney at law; that he claims to hold and does exercise the right to practice law in such courts, and persistently over a period of many years has filed numerous groundless actions in the courts of the state charging sundry persons, public officials, including courts and judges, with varied misconduct and derelictions, to the detriment of the public and the due administration of justice.

Defendant's answer questions the jurisdiction of this court to inquire into this matter and to make orders concerning it. He denies generally the allegations of the petition and alleges that in December, 1900, her took the examination for the admission of attorneys at St. Louis, Mo., and was admitted to practice law as an attorney in all the courts of that state; that in January, 1907, he took the oath of an attorney in the district court of Wyandotte county, Kan., for the trial of a case then pending in that court, and since then has tried many cases in that court; that he made application to this court to be permitted to practice law in this state, but because of a controversy with one of the judges of the district court of Wyandotte county he did not take the examination; that in the past he has maintained offices in Kansas City, Mo., and has practiced law both in Missouri and in Kansas, but in this state always in connection with some attorney, and the names of several are mentioned. He professes a willingness to take an examination for admission to the bar in this state, and asks permission of the court for him to do so.

This court set the matter for hearing as to what order should be made upon the pleadings filed. At the hearing, participated in by the defendant in person, the oral arguments and briefs went much more into detail as to the extent and nature of defendant's activities in the practice of law. Defendant in his brief advises us that he spent his boyhood in Indiana, where he attended the common schools and finished two years of high school in 1884; that thereafter he worked in different places and at various occupations until 1892, when he went to St. Louis and started a three-year course in a school of law, working in the meantime for various packing companies, and in December, 1900, took the examination before the bar examining board and was admitted to practice in all the courts of Missouri, and practiced law in St. Louis for six years and one year at Mokano, Mo.; that he moved to Kansas City, Kan., in 1907, and began work for a packing company, became interested in some man who was in jail, went before one of the district judges, and was introduced by an attorney and was told to take the oath and sign as an attorney, which he did; that for many years he worked for various packing companies and railroads, but all the time did some work as a lawyer; that the cases which he had in Missouri he tried himself, and those he had in Kansas he had some Kansas attorney with him; that for the seven years last past he has endeavored to make a living practicing law, being for three years with one attorney and three years with another, and for the last year by himself; that while with one of these attorneys he wrote 270 petitions and all other papers necessary; that most of his clients are people of small means, and he states the amount of fees they have paid him in the last few months; that he does not solicit law business, but when clients come to him he advises them, and if court action is deemed proper he prepares the papers, has the client sign them, and gets some other attorney to assist in the trial of the case.

From the brief of the plaintiff we are advised, and defendant has not contradicted this although he has had an opportunity to do so, that within the last few years there have been filed, mostly in the district court but some in the city court, approximately one hundred civil actions in which defendant's name appeared as attorney for one of the parties, usually the plaintiff. In about half of these cases some other attorney appeared with defendant as attorney for the party, but in about half of them he was the sole attorney. In sixteen of these he was also the plaintiff. Most of these were actions for damages; several of them for libel or slander. One was a quo warranto action to oust a justice of the peace from office, another was to regulate the fares of a street car company, and another against the mayor and city commissioners charging them with being inefficient in analyzing the ills of the city government and asking that a receiver be appointed to take over the management of the city, alleging that he was a bona fide resident and taxpayer therein. Three of these sixteen actions were tried, resulting in judgments for defendants, one was removed to the federal court, and two are pending. The others were dismissed for want of prosecution, or for want of jurisdiction of the court, or a demurrer was sustained either to the petition or to the evidence. Collectively, and almost entirely, these actions were predicated upon ill-founded claims and unjust accusations. In a few of them plaintiff recovered small amounts. About 90 percent. of them were filed on poverty affidavits in lieu of bond or deposit for costs, although several of them in which such affidavits were flied disclosed either that the plaintiff possessed substantial property, or that the action was predicated upon such possession, and in only a few of them have any costs been paid. It further appears that defendant is now conducting what he calls the "Western Credit and Adjustment Service" at an office in the business part of the city, on the letterhead of which his name appears as "Counselor and Manager." On February 18, 1925, defendant filed in this court a petition for admission to the bar, accompanied by a fee of $25, then required. On March 2. 1925, he withdrew the application and asked for the return of the fee, which request was granted. He has made no further request for admission to the bar other than that contained in his answer filed in this action.

Passing now to the questions to be determined. We first note defendant's contention that since he was admitted to practice law in Missouri in 1900, and...

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