FORT WORTH — Family court attorney Kimberly Ashley-Stevens was sentenced Tuesday night to 180 days in state jail after being convicted of two felony counts relating to forged documents she presented to a judge in a 2006 adoption case.
Ashley-Stevens was sentenced to 10 years’ probation on a third felony connected to the forged documents. State District Judge Elizabeth Berry ordered her to pay a $3,500 fine as a condition of probation.
Ashley-Stevens was taken into custody, but could be released on bail while she appeals her conviction, her attorney said.
On Monday, a Tarrant County jury convicted her of fabricating physical evidence, tampering with government records, and passing a document containing the forged signatures of her client and another attorney in the 2006 adoption case.
During the punishment hearing, the jury heard evidence that Ashley-Stevens also presented documents containing the forged signature of a judge in a 2005 annulment and the forged signature of another attorney in another 2006 adoption.
In seeking probation for Ashley-Stevens, 40, defense attorneys noted her years of free legal work for poor clients and said the loss of her law license was enough punishment.
"All the things she is accused of doing all helped her clients," they said. "That’s not the same thing as someone taking your check and stealing your bank account." Defense lawyers said Ashley-Stevens didn’t harm anyone because Kristy Ward’s overturned adoption was reinstated with the help of other attorneys.
Prosecutors Joe Shannon and David Lobingier said lawyers should be held to higher standards than other people. That doesn’t mean breaking rules to help their clients, Shannon said.
"Fortunately, Kristy Ward didn’t lose her baby," Shannon said. "But rules are important. You can’t just cut corners. It’s not just paperwork."
Shannon said family court judges who reviewed Ashley-Stevens’ cases after the first forged document was found discovered only three cases of wrongdoing.
Although a few people have inquired about cases connected to Ashley-Stevens, Shannon and some family law attorneys say it is unlikely that many, if any, cases will be overturned because of her involvement.