Tuesday, September 11, 2018
A petition for voluntary discipline was rejected by the Georgia Supreme Court
we do not accept a Review Panel reprimand as a sufficient sanction for a putative Rule 8.4 (a) (4) violation without a full understanding of the underlying facts.
The attorney pleaded to a charge that he had affixed a client's name to a document in a forfeiture matter
According to the petition, Dorer signed a verification for his client and had his assistant notarize the verification. If the signature purported to have been affixed by the client himself, that certainly could amount to deceit or a misrepresentation. The signature, however, did not purport to have been affixed by the client. To the contrary, the signature was followed immediately by the notation “WEP DD,” which any reasonable lawyer would understand to be a disclosure that the signature was affixed by “DD”—presumably Dorer—with the express permission of his client. When a lawyer signs a document for a client, with the express permission of the client and disclosing to those to whom the document is directed that the signature was affixed by the lawyer for the client, the lawyer has committed no ethical violation. To the contrary, that is something lawyers routinely do.
Chief Justice Melton dissented
In line with this precedent, Dorer has asked for this appropriate discipline, and the State Bar has agreed to this resolution. Under these clear-cut circumstances in which the petitioner admits to the crime, agrees that he has violated the applicable rule, and requests the appropriate punishment, we should accept the petition for voluntary discipline. To do otherwise, as the majority does, simply frustrates the efficiency of the disciplinary process, both from the perspective of protecting the integrity of the State Bar and allowing the disciplined petitioner to reach the resolution of his case.