Ertle Knox Chavis of Lumberton misappropriated entrusted client funds and engaged in a conflict of interest. He was disbarred by the DHC.
Lena Watts-Robinson of Gastonia misappropriated entrusted client funds, did not maintain entrusted funds separate from her own funds, did not disburse interest earned on entrusted funds to IOLTA or to the client, did not reconcile the account into which she deposited entrusted funds, neglected and did not communicate with her client, did not respond to the State Bar, did not participate in good faith in the State Bar’s mandatory fee dispute resolution process, collected an excessive fee, and did not refund an unearned fee. She was disbarred by the DHC.
Suspensions & Stayed Suspensions
Robert Brady of Cary withdrew funds he had deposited into his daughter’s custodial account and applied those funds for his personal benefit and not for the benefit of his daughter. The DHC suspended Brady for two years. The suspension is stayed for two years upon Brady’s compliance with enumerated conditions.
A Haywood County jury convicted Charles Mark Feagan, formerly of Polk County, of felonious forgery and uttering, for which he received a probationary sentence. Feagan was already serving a five year suspension of his law license imposed in 2011. The DHC concluded that Feagan also misappropriated a traffic client’s entrusted funds and concluded that Feagan was successfully participating in the LAP program. It announced its decision to impose an additional five year suspension to commence at the expiration of the existing five year suspension.
James Pardue of Cary did not reconcile his trust account at least quarterly, did not always identify the sources of deposits, did not provide a written accounting at least annually, and disbursed his legal fee and closing costs before funds were deposited into the trust account. The DHC suspended Pardue for one year. The suspension is stayed for 18 months upon compliance with numerous conditions.
The DHC announced its conclusion that Peter Paul of Cashiers inappropriately disbursed entrusted funds, did not provide annual accountings of entrusted funds, and, after causing the State Bar to have a misapprehension of the facts, did not correct that misapprehension. The DHC concluded that the evidence did not establish that Paul intentionally misappropriated or intentionally misled the State Bar. The DHC suspended Paul for one year. The suspension is stayed for one year.
John Roebuck of Rockingham pled guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to the felony of knowingly maintaining a vehicle for the purpose of using controlled substances. The conviction resulted from Roebuck’s purchase of prescription pain medication from a former client. The DHC suspended Roebuck for four years.
The DHC concluded that David Sutton of Greenville violated numerous Rules of Professional Conduct by engaging in a pattern of aggressive, disruptive, and dishonest behavior. The DHC suspended Sutton for five years. After serving three years, Sutton may apply for a stay of the balance upon showing compliance with numerous conditions, including reformation of character.
Paul Whitfield of Charlotte refused to withdraw from a personal injury case after the client terminated the representation, filed an improper incompetency petition against his former client, issued improper subpoenas and deposition notices, and filed a frivolous lawsuit against his former client’s new attorney. The DHC suspended Whitfield for two years. After serving six months, Whitfield may apply for a stay of the balance upon showing compliance with numerous conditions.
A. Wayland Cooke and H. Davis North of Greensboro commingled personal and entrusted funds by leaving earned fees in their trust accounts. They did not supervise an assistant to whom they delegated trust account duties and did not perform monthly and quarterly reconciliations of their trust accounts. The assistant misappropriated funds from the trust account but, due to the commingling of funds, no entrusted funds were impacted. The DHC suspended Cooke and North for one year. The suspensions are stayed for one year upon compliance with enumerated conditions.
Nicholas Ackerman of Greensboro was censured by the Grievance Committee. The committee found that Ackerman neglected and did not communicate with his client.
Bobby Mills of Raleigh was censured by the DHC. The DHC concluded that Mills did not supervise a subordinate attorney and a paralegal and that he committed conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. Mills did not ensure that the pleadings, documents, and representations his associate and his paralegal made to the court in a termination of parental rights action were accurate. Mills attempted to use the termination order against a potential father to whom Mills had not given notice of the termination proceeding. The DHC concluded that the evidence did not establish dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation by Mills.
Leslie O. Wickham Jr. of Durham was censured by the Grievance Committee. Without implied or express consent to do so, Wickham revealed the names of a child’s adoptive parents to the biological mother and to the child’s former foster mother. The conduct constitutes a misdemeanor under NCGS § 48-10-105. The committee also found that Wickham failed to appreciate the real or potential harm his conduct caused to the child and to the adoptive family.
Joel Bowden of Greensboro was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. Bowden did not ensure that a nonlawyer assistant’s actions in seeking new clients complied with his professional obligations.
The Grievance Committee reprimanded Wayne Clontz of Morganton. After his client terminated the representation and asked Clontz to return her file, Clontz commenced a civil action purportedly on her behalf. Clontz did not ensure that a nonlawyer assistant’s conduct was compatible with his professional obligations. He also paid bills for the client for expenses that were not the subject of pending or contemplated litigation.
Charles Lamm of Charlotte was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. Lamm engaged in a conflict of interest by representing both the estate of his client’s mother and the client as former executrix of the estate. He did not advise his client of the conflict and of his disqualification by the court. Lamm did not respond to inquiries from the local Grievance Committee and the State Bar.
Rachel Faultersack of Wilmington was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. In an effort to avoid a late payment fee, Faultersack affixed a false date to her CLE Annual Report Form. She also misrepresented the circumstances surrounding her submission of the late form in her response to the Grievance Committee.
Timothy D. Smith of Charlotte was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. Smith did not respond reasonably to his client’s requests for information, repeatedly disregarded his client’s requested changes to documents, and did not communicate with his client about the means by which her objectives could be accomplished.
Transfers to Disability Inactive Status
Elesha Smith of Raleigh was transferred to disability inactive status by the chair of the Grievance Committee.
In July 2013 the DHC suspended Kenneth P. Andresen, formerly of Charlotte, for four years. The DHC found Andresen entered into a prohibited business transaction with a client, applied funds held in trust to pay his fee without authorization, did not promptly remove an earned fee from his trust account, and used entrusted property for one other than the beneficial owner. After serving one year, Andresen was eligible to seek a stay of the balance of the suspension upon demonstrating compliance with numerous conditions. In November 2014 the DHC found that Andresen met the conditions and stayed the balance of the suspension.
Douglas T. Simons of Durham surrendered his law license and was disbarred by the State Bar Council in April 2005. Simons admitted that he misappropriated at least $300,000 and that he falsified bank records to conceal the misappropriation. In March 2014 the DHC recommended that Simons’ petition for reinstatement be denied. Simons appealed to the council. At its January 23 meeting, the State Bar Council voted to accept the DHC’s recommendation and denied reinstatement.
In November 2007 Ralph Bryant of Newport surrendered his law license and was disbarred by the DHC. Bryant admitted that he misappropriated entrusted funds totaling $64,847. In August 2014 the DHC recommended that his petition for reinstatement be denied. The DHC found that Bryant had reformed, but that his reinstatement would be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the bar, the administration of justice, or to the public’s interest. Bryant appealed to the council. At its January 23 meeting, the State Bar Council voted to accept the DHC’s recommendation and denied reinstatement.
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