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Lawyer who represented Albert Wilson in since-overturned Douglas County rape case faces disciplinary action

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An attorney who used to handle appointments in Douglas County District Court criminal cases is on probation for violating professional rules of conduct.

A Kansas Supreme Court ruling issued Friday morning states that Forrest A. Lowry violated professional conduct rules mandating that attorneys “act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client”; “keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter”; “make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client”; and maintain the integrity of the profession.

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One rape case Lowry defended in his more than three decades practicing law made national headlines. That was the case against Albert Wilson, who was convicted of rape in 2019 and was imprisoned until his conviction was overturned in 2021.

The judge in Wilson’s case granted Wilson a new trial based on her finding that Lowry had provided him ineffective assistance of counsel.

Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny ruled that the jury could have come to a different decision in Wilson’s case if the jurors had known about certain evidence that Lowry did not use. She ruled that a retrial was necessary, but prosecutors later dismissed the case.

Testifying in November 2020 hearings regarding whether Wilson’s conviction would stand, Lowry said he had litigated well more than 100 jury trials in his years practicing. He was last appointed to represent defendants in Douglas County District Court criminal cases in 2019, according to court records.

Lowry voluntarily began a probationary period on Jan. 15, 2021, according to Friday’s ruling.

He self-reported an ineffective assistance of counsel determination to the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator, and he took no exceptions to a disciplinary panel’s findings of fact in his case, the ruling states.

Lowry “is suspended for 90 days from the practice of law in the state of Kansas, effective the date of this opinion,” the ruling states. “… However, respondent’s suspension is stayed during a three-year period of probation, beginning January 21, 2021. Respondent’s probation shall have the terms and conditions set forth above, which are incorporated by reference.”

Lowry was admitted to the Kansas bar in 1988. He did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment for this article.

Wilson has filed a wrongful incarceration case against the state. That case is set for a pretrial conference in June 2023 and a bench trial in August 2023.

The court’s full ruling is below:

Lowry

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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