June 20, 2012
Attorney Reinstated After Suspension For Deposition Misconduct
The South Carolina Supreme Court has reinstated an attorney who had been suspended for six months in 2011.
The underlying suspension matter involved a criminal complaint brought by the attorney's ex-wife and his subsequent conduct during a civil suit:
...after the criminal charges were dismissed, respondent filed a pro se action against the City of Columbia alleging false arrest. In the course of representing himself in the matter, respondent subpoenaed Witness A, a former neighbor and long-time friend of both he and his former wife, to give a deposition. Witness A was not a witness to any of the matters out of which the criminal charges against respondent arose; however, Witness A had provided an affidavit in support of respondent's former wife during the divorce proceeding. Respondent also subpoenaed two other former neighbors who had supported his former wife during the divorce proceedings. Respondent admits he subpoenaed the three witnesses to take their depositions as he believed that they might have information regarding the allegations of criminal wrongdoings made by his former wife. Respondent fails to explain why the testimony of any of these witnesses was pertinent to his suit against the City.
Over the course of two days, respondent deposed Witness A for over five hours, including breaks. Respondent admits he asked improper questions during the deposition. He further admits that there were times when he talked over the deponent and there were instances where he did not let Witness A finish his answer.
In addition, respondent admits he asked a number of improper questions of Witness A. In particular, he asked Witness A about his sexual orientation and whether he had been tested for HIV. He also asked Witness A whether he had Alzheimer's Disease when the witness' recollection was incomplete. Respondent admits the question should not have been asked in this fashion.
Respondent regrets and apologizes for his questions during the deposition. He submits that the stress of his divorce and of deposing a former friend who had sided with his former wife in their divorce caused his emotions to get the better of him.
Respondent has since signed a Settlement Agreement and Release and Stipulation of Dismissal concluding the matter against the City of Columbia and its police department.
The court's order followed the attorney's filing of an affidavit requesting reinstatement. (Mike Frisch)
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