On Thursday, August 24, 2023, the Supreme Court of Kentucky denied attorney Richard Boling’s proposed negotiated sanction and remanded the case to the Kentucky Bar Association for further disciplinary proceedings.

The case is entitled “Richard Boling v. Kentucky Bar Association,” with case no. 2023-SC-0279-KB.

The charges cited Boling’s alleged violation of SCR 3.130(3.3)(a)(1) by knowingly making a false statement to the grand jury and/or by failing to correct that same false statement of material fact, SCR 3.130(3.3)(a)(3) by knowingly offering evidence a lawyer knows to be false and failing to take remedial measures if the lawyer learns of its falsity, SCR 3.130(3.8)(a) for prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause, and SCR 3.130(8.4)(c) by engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.  

The suspension stems from Boling’s involvement in a case related to the overdose death of Corbin Bowling. On July 9, 2021, as the Christian County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Boling presented information to a grand jury in the matter of Commonwealth v. Seth Henderson. Henderson and his co-defendant, Joshua Long, were indicted on charges of complicity to manslaughter in the second degree in connection with Bowling’s death. The prosecution alleged that Henderson sold pills laced with fentanyl to Long, which led to Bowling’s fatal overdose.

During the grand jury proceedings, Boling presented testimony that included false and misleading information. The court found that Boling intentionally elicited and presented false testimony, thereby abusing the grand jury process. As a result, the Christian County Circuit Court dismissed Henderson’s indictment without prejudice.

Based on the May 4, 2022 circuit court order, the Inquiry Commission issued four counts of charges against Boling. The charges included knowingly making false statements to the grand jury, offering evidence known to be false, prosecuting a charge without probable cause, and engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.

Boling responded to the charges, acknowledging that the information presented to the grand jury regarding the text messages was false. However, he claimed that he was unaware of the timing of the messages and argued that probable cause existed even without them.

Following a pre-hearing conference on December 7, 2022, and Boling’s subsequent resignation as Commonwealth’s Attorney effective February 28, 2023, negotiations began regarding an appropriate sanction. On June 19, 2023, Boling filed a motion for consensual discipline, proposing a one-year suspension to run concurrently with a five-year sanction previously imposed on him in another disciplinary proceeding.

The court noted that Boling’s previous disciplinary actions, which included writing a pardon letter containing unfounded allegations and committing prosecutorial misconduct in another case, demonstrated the egregious nature of his misconduct as a public prosecutor.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court of Kentucky found the proposed sanction inadequate, thus denying Boling’s motion for a concurrent one-year suspension along the discipline specified in the June 15, 2023 order of the Court. Additionally, Boling’s file under 22-DIS-0105 is remanded to the KBA for further disciplinary action.

The order stated that if Boling and bar Counsel don’t agree on an alternate consensual discipline proposal within 90 days, the matter will proceed as a contested issue under Supreme Court Rules.

Chief Justice VanMeter and Justices Bisig, Conley, Keller, and Lambert concur, while Justices Nickell and Thompson dissent without comment.

According to his LinkedIn page, Boling attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law, graduating in 1993. He had served as a Commonwealth attorney from January 2019 until April 2023. Boling has been licensed to practice in Kentucky, license no. 86116.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.