March 20, 2012
Disbarment Order Overturned For Due Process Violation
In an appeal from a Disciplinary Hearing Commission order of disbarment, the North Cartolina Court of Appeals reversed based on its determination that the due process rights of the accused attorney had been violated.
The State Bar filed a complaint alleging that the attorney had "knowingly misrepresented the seller's $7,400 loan to the buyer as a down payment on the HUD-1 statement." The State Bar moved to compel discovery responses. The attorney sent the DHC this e-mail in response:
I reviewed your bogus order to compel. I will not be producing anything. in fact, I will never be in communication with any of you people ever again.
I will not be at the February hearing.
I am moving on with my life. You have no power over me. You are mistaken to think that you do. You are fully aware that Mrs. [Leanor] Hodge [the attorney handling the matter for the State Bar] is lying. Apparently, this is status quo.
At the hearing, the State Bar presented evidence of fraud that differed in material respects from the allegations.
The court here held that the lack of notice amounted to a due process violation. The court further held that disbarment could not be imposed based on the violation of the order to compel discovery.
You don't often see such holdings in bar discipline cases. (Mike Frisch)
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