On Friday, November 3, 2023, the Tenth District, Section II Subcommittee of the Virginia State Bar voted to approve a public reprimand without terms against James Randall Perkins for failing to adequately communicate with a client about a pending lawsuit.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of James Randall Perkins,” with case no. 23-102-128665.

The charges cited Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct Rules 1.4 and 8.1 which state:

A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.

An applicant for admission to the bar, or a lawyer tied to the connection with a bar admission application, any certification required to be filed as a condition of maintaining or renewing a license to practice law, or in connection with a disciplinary matter, shall not: (c) fail to respond to a lawful demand for information from an admissions or disciplinary authority, except that this Rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.

The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.

This action stemmed from a complaint filed in March 2023 by one of Perkins’ clients, Annetta Kestner. In her complaint, Kestner alleged that between October 2021 and March 2023, with the exception of one meeting in December 2022, Perkins generally failed to communicate with her about the status of a lawsuit Perkins filed on her behalf in 2016. The lawsuit in Smyth County Circuit Court involved a dispute over the sale of residential property Kestner owned with her ex-husband.

The bar’s investigation found that Perkins did not respond to written requests from the bar’s Intake Office in March and April 2023 seeking information about his communications with Kestner regarding the lawsuit. Perkins also initially failed to submit a written response to Kestner’s bar complaint, as requested by the bar in a letter sent in April 2023. After being contacted by a bar investigator in May 2023, Perkins submitted a written response acknowledging that he “again failed to properly communicate with [his] client about the case.” However, during the investigation, Perkins did communicate with Kestner and took steps to resolve the pending lawsuit.

The subcommittee found Perkins’ conduct violated bar rules requiring lawyers to keep clients reasonably informed about case status and respond to lawful demands for information from disciplinary authorities. This public reprimand comes after Perkins received a prior public reprimand in May 2019 for similar issues communicating with Kestner about the same lawsuit between 2017 and 2019.

The Disposition states:

“Accordingly, it is the decision of the Subcommittee to impose a Public Reprimand without Terns. Pursuant to Part 6, S IV, 13-9.E of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall assess costs.”

According to avvo.com, Mr. Perkins is an attorney in Marion, Virginia. He attended the University of Kentucky – College of Law. He acquired his law license in Virginia in 2003.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.