Friday, August 23, 2019

Uncertainty Dooms Voluntary Discipline Petition

The Georgia Supreme Court rejected a petition for voluntary discipline notwithstanding the agreement of the State Bar

Golub admits that his conduct violated Rules 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.16, 3.2, and 8.4 (a) (4) of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct. The maximum sanction for a violation of Rules 1.2, 1.3, and 8.4 (a) (4) is disbarment, while the maximum sanction for a violation of Rules 1.4, 1.5, 1.16, and 3.2 is a public reprimand.

But

this Court has two concerns. The first is that it is not entirely clear from the admitted facts that Golub violated Rule 8.4 (a) (4), which concerns professional conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.  See In the Matter of Dorer, 304 Ga. 442 (819 SE2d 7) (2018) (not accepting recommended Review Panel reprimand for a putative Rule 8.4 (a) (4) violation without a full understanding of the facts); In the Matter of Braziel, 303 Ga. 154 (810 SE2d 476) (2018) (petition for voluntary discipline rejected where there was uncertainty about facts underlying purported rule violation); In the Matter of West, 299 Ga. 731 (791 SE2d 781) (2016) (rejecting petition for voluntary discipline where admitted facts did not show that lawyer violated rule he admitted to violating). Second, we are concerned that Golub has failed to fully repay the monies owed to the client’s son. In his petition, Golub states he intends to “pay as much of the money” as he is “able,” but states no intention of making the client’s son whole. See, e.g., In the Matter of Melody Yvonne Cherry, 304 Ga. 836 (822 SE2d 823) (2019) (petition for voluntary discipline rejected where there was lack of information of how a third-party doctor’s claim to unpaid settlement proceeds was resolved). Accordingly, the petition for voluntary discipline is rejected.

(Mike Frisch)

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