Court Disbars Former Louisville Bar President

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) -- The former president of the Louisville bar association was permanently prohibited from practicing law on Thursday after a series of legal and disciplinary problems by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Jack W. Steiner Jr. was a local success story. He graduated high school in Jefferson County in 1968 and became a county police officer, where he served for 10 years. In the late 1970s, he began attending the University of Louisville law school at night and passed his bar exam in 1982.

He was involved in numerous community and civic endeavors and was elected president of the local association of lawyers in 1998.

During that same period, however, Steiner's personal and professional lives were taking different routes.

Steiner went through a divorce and his son died from a drug overdose. In September 1990, Steiner had a traffic accident that nearly cost him his life. During his recuperation, he failed to file income tax returns and ran up a large tax bill to the Internal Revenue Service.

From 1996 to 2002, the high court said, Steiner also began taking client funds and using them for personal use. The total ran to more than $92,000.

Steiner had been suspended from his legal practice in June 2003. Steiner asked the high court, which has the final say in disciplinary matters involving lawyers in Kentucky, to allow him to resume his legal practice.

In a unanimous opinion signed by Chief Justice Joseph Lambert, the court noted Steiner's numerous personal and professional difficulties. But the court also said his conduct did not back up his request to be reinstated.

"Six years of pilfering, in over 100 instances, even without a prior disciplinary record, is not something that reassures us of a more honest approach in the future," the order said.

In another disciplinary case, the court suspended Benjamin C. Hall of Pikeville for 181 days for accepting money to perform legal services and then not adequately pursuing the cases.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)