Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The South Carolina Supreme Court imposed a definite suspension in a matter in which the attorney accepted a fee while serving an earlier suspension:
Although Client's mother testified Respondent informed her that his license to practice law was suspended, he nevertheless requested and then accepted $2,000 on behalf of Client for legal services. His flagrant disregard of this Court's suspension is reprehensible. However, in mitigation, this Court considers that the majority of Respondent's disciplinary history stems from events occurring in 2008, a time when Respondent candidly admits he experienced a series of personal crises and ultimately had a mental breakdown. The recommendation of a fifteen month suspension, retroactive to the expiration of the previously imposed nine month suspension, cumulatively results in a two year suspension from the practice of law. In hopes this extended period will allow Respondent to order his life and law practice to better align with the high standards expected of a practicing attorney, we follow the Panel's recommendation. The Panel additionally recommended this Court impose a fine to be paid within thirty days of this opinion. Because Respondent accepted $2,000 in legal fees, which was refunded to Client's mother through the Lawyers' Fund, we require Respondent reimburse the Lawyers' Fund that amount within thirty days of the date of this opinion, if he has not already done so. Lastly, we follow the Panel's recommendation that Respondent pay the costs of these disciplinary proceedings and complete ethics training before petitioning this Court for reinstatement to the practice of law.