On Wednesday, October 19, 2022, the State of Minnesota Supreme Court suspended attorney Kenneth E. Keate for misleading statements to the bankruptcy court about the amount he was charging for attorney’s fees.

The case is entitled “In the matter of Kenneth E. Keate” and was brought by the Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility with case no. A22-0773.

The charges cited Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct 3.3(a)(1), 3.3(a)(3), 4.1, 8.4(c), 8.4(d).

The Minnesota Rules of Profesional Conduct can be found here.

Allegedly, the respondent committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct by making a misleading statement to the bankruptcy court in a filing about the amount he was charging for attorney fees. Moreover, the respondent failed to correct that statement after he learned it was false and later made a knowingly false statement to the bankrupt court in another filing about the amount he was charging the debtors for attorney fees again.

The filing states:

“That same day, the respondent filed a “STATEMENT OF COMPENSATION BY ATTORNEY FOR DEBTORS.” Respondent stated in this document, “The compensation paid or agreed to be paid by [the couple] to [respondent] through the date of filing is $ on an hourly rate set forth below. The estimated total is $5,000.00,” This statement is misleading. As set forth above, by this date the couple owed the respondent more than $5,000 in attorney’s fees; they owed the respondent approximately $7,879. As the respondent had memorialized in his Chapter 13 Fee Agreement, the respondent did not intend to waive any of the fees owed. Respondent advised the Director his clients did not provide documents for him to prepare the documents needed to commence the bankruptcy until just before the petition was filed, once he received the documents his efforts were focused on preparing the bankruptcy petition and related documents, he did not review his billing at that time, and therefore he did not know when he prepared the statement of compensation the amount owed for attorney’s fees was nearly $8,000.”

The filing continues:

“On September 24, 2014, respondent filed an “AMENDED DISCLOSURE OF COMPENSATION OF ATTORNEY FOR DEBTOR” Respondent stated the “Balance Due” was, “Amount to be determined by Court Order. Estimated to be $5,000 for purposes of the Chapter 13 Plan.” This statement is knowingly false and misleading. By this date, the couple still owed the respondent nearly $8,000 in attorney’s fees and the respondent knew this fact. As respondent had memorialized in his Chapter 13 Fee Agreement, respondent did not intend to waive any of the fees owed.”

In a stipulation, the respondent and the Director had entered into an agreement that the appropriate sanction for the former’s conduct is a 45-day suspension. The respondent had agreed to unconditionally admit the allegations of the Petition of Disciplinary Charges.

The Disposition states:

“Respondent Kenneth E. Keate is suspended from the practice of law for a minimum of 45 days, effective 14 days from the date of this order.”

As of today, Mr. Keate is listed on the website of the law firm Keate Law firm as a practicing attorney. His info can be found on Martindale.com. Keate attended the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1997. He practices in St. Paul Minnesota. He is licensed in Minnesota with license #0054173.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.