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WV Supreme Court hears lawyer disciplinary action

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A lawyer disciplinary action before the West Virginia Supreme Court became heated when the lawyer accused of not complying with a court order made accusations against a Raleigh County circuit judge.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed a petition for rule to show cause against Beckley attorney Karen Acord. The petition seeks a rule to show cause for why Acord should not be held in contempt of a 2012 state Supreme Court order.

The disciplinary counsel asks the court to suspend Acord's license until she complies with the order, which requires her to pay $800 in restitution to the estate of Anna Diem.

Renee Frymer, who represented the disciplinary counsel, said the office sent two letters to Acord and received no response.

Frymer said her legal assistant called Acord to ask about the status of the payment and Acord told her she didn't intend to make restitution because the estate was closed and she also didn't intend to pay costs of her disciplinary proceedings.

Acord also failed to file a response to the petition.

In the Sept. 4 oral arguments, Justice Allen Loughry asked Frymer if suspension until compliance was sufficient to the complainants.

Frymer responded this is an isolated incident that she said involves contempt against the complainants.

"She's been a longstanding member of the bar for 40 years," Frymer said.

Acord responded she had a good excuse for not complying with the order and not filing a response, saying she has had "nothing but trouble" from Raleigh County Circuit Judge Robert Burnside.

Loughry asked Acord why she didn't comply with the rules or respond to the petition. Acord responded the estate was closed, she was never offered to go on a payment plan and she has been trying to get her health in order since the first disciplinary hearing.

Acord also said she plans to file a complaint against Burnside but has not had a chance because of her health. Acord accused the judge, among other things, of trying to throw a jury against her.

 "This is not about Judge Burnside," Justice Margaret Workman said. "You can't just disobey a court order."

Acord responded that she has been torn apart with issues over Burnside.

"I have concerns about your practice of law if all you can do is criticize a judge and can't respond to the petition," Benjamin said. "All you're doing is making excuse after excuse."

Acord responded that she has been under extreme circumstances.