Recent Disciplinary Actions by the North Carolina Bar: Spring 2017

Each quarter, the North Carolina State Bar (“NC Bar”) publishes its most-recent disciplinary actions against attorneys licensed in the state. Here is a summary of some of the most noteworthy actions from Spring 2017:

1. Disbarments

The NC Bar’s Disciplinary Hearing Commission (DHC) disbarred four attorneys during the quarter. Three of the disbarments were based, at least in part, on misappropriation of clients’ entrusted funds. All three of the disbarred attorneys had been in practice for at least 30 years. In one case, the attorney had misappropriated well in excess of $80,000 from multiple clients. In the other two, the misappropriated amounts were smaller, but the attorneys were also found to have mismanaged and misrepresented the handling of their client trust accounts, including intentionally misidentifying the source of trust funds.

In the fourth disbarment action, the attorney consented to resignation of his law license while facing an investigation for sending sexually-suggestive emails and engaging in sexual relations with immigration clients who were “especially vulnerable.”

2. Suspensions

Ten North Carolina-barred attorneys received suspensions and stayed suspensions from the DHC during the spring. The grounds for suspension included:

  • Failing to maintain client communications and participate in the NC Bar’s fee dispute resolution program.
  • Failing to perform quarterly trust account reconciliations, failing to return funds mistakenly wired from an unknown source, and improperly disbursing client deposits held in trust.
  • Submitting a document bearing a false signature to the NC Bar’s Grievance Committee.
  • Failing to communicate with clients and making inaccurate statements to a client about work purportedly performed.
  • Failing to adequately supervise the attorney’s assistant (who misappropriated clients’ trust deposits) and adequately monitor the firm’s trust account.
  • Practicing law on a suspended license and neglecting a client’s case.
  • Engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice by making “frivolous claims and misleading statements” during the representation of criminal defendants. The misleading statements included falsely telling one Assistant District Attorney (ADA) that another had promised amnesty for crimes committed prior to the subject offense, and “impl[ying] to the court that [the ADA] had agreed not to prosecute [her client]” for earlier offenses.

3. Censures and Reprimands

Six attorneys received censures and/or reprimands during the quarter. The grounds for discipline included making misrepresentations to the court, practicing on a suspended license, failing to take action as appointed appellate counsel for indigent clients, charging excessive fees, failing to communicate with clients, failing to make timely filings on behalf of clients, and failure to timely comply with the Grievance Committee’s requests.

Representation for Attorneys Facing Disciplinary Action in Raleigh, NC

The lawyers in Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC’s professional license defense practice represent attorneys who are facing disciplinary action by the NC Bar. If you have received a Letter of Notice from the Grievance Committee, we can help you assess your situation and seek to protect your license. To speak with an attorney at our Raleigh, NC offices in confidence, please call (919) 833-3114 or inquire online today.