Disciplinary Actions from the Most Recent Journal

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Orders entered since publication of the last Journal can be found on the Disciplinary Orders page.


Most Recent Actions

Disbarments

Rosiland T. Grant of Ahoskie surrendered her license to practice law and was disbarred by the State Bar Council. Grant acknowledged that she misappropriated entrusted funds totaling at least $8,000.

Suspensions & Stayed Suspensions

The DHC suspended Robert Adams of Hickory for four years. Adams mismanaged his trust account by commingling funds, failing to identify clients on disbursements, failing to maintain ledgers, and failing to reconcile quarterly. After serving two years active suspension, Adams may apply for a stay of the balance upon showing compliance with numerous conditions.

D. Bernard Alston of Henderson was suspended for five years by the DHC. Alston engaged in the unauthorized practice of law while he was serving a disciplinary suspension. At the end of the suspension, Alston may apply for reinstatement upon showing compliance with numerous conditions, including passing the bar exam.

The DHC suspended William Belk of Charlotte, a former district court judge, for three years. The Supreme Court removed Belk from office for lying to the Judicial Standards Commission. After serving 12 months active suspension, Belk may apply for a stay of the balance upon showing compliance with numerous conditions.

James Dickey of Atlanta, GA, was suspended from the practice of law in North Carolina for two years as reciprocal discipline after he was suspended for two years by the South Carolina Supreme Court. Dickey's misconduct included failure to diligently prosecute his client's case, failure to keep his client informed about the status of a matter, failure to participate in good faith in the fee dispute resolution process, falsifying evidence provided to an opposing party, engaging in dishonest conduct, and engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice. Dickey's reinstatement is conditioned on his reinstatement in South Carolina.

Edwin M. Hardy of Washington was suspended for two years by the DHC. Hardy did not perform quarterly reconciliations of his trust account; did not deposit mixed funds consisting of attorney fees, court costs, and fines in a trust account; and did not consistently maintain sufficient funds in the trust account to cover bank charges. The suspension is stayed for three years contingent upon Hardy's compliance with numerous conditions.

The DHC suspended John Hauser of Raleigh for one year. Hauser submitted to the CLE Board an annual report form signed and dated February 27, 2012, and represented that this form was a copy of the original he had returned by the February 29, 2012, deadline. The form he returned was actually not mailed to him by the State Bar until March 14, 2012. The suspension is stayed for one year upon his compliance with numerous conditions.

The DHC suspended William "Trippe" McKeny of Salisbury for three years. McKeny mishandled entrusted funds and engaged in gross trust account mismanagement. After serving one year active suspension, McKeny may apply for a stay of the balance upon showing compliance with numerous conditions.

The DHC suspended John M. McWilliam of Garner for two years. McWilliam did not reconcile his trust account and did not supervise his firm's bookkeeper, as a result of which the bookkeeper misappropriated entrusted funds. The DHC suspended McWilliam for two years. The suspension is stayed for two years upon his compliance with numerous conditions.

The DHC suspended Susan Saturno of Ocean Isle for one year. Saturno signed her client's name on a document required by a lender and notarized her client's purported signature.

Show Cause Orders

In April 2010 the DHC suspended Willie D. Gilbert II of Wilson for five years for mishandling client funds. The suspension was stayed for five years upon compliance with numerous conditions. The DHC concluded that Gilbert violated several conditions, including that he violated the Rules of Professional Conduct by making false or misleading statements to a tribunal, that he did not timely submit reports to the Office of Counsel, and that he did not timely pay membership dues. The DHC activated three years of the suspension.

Interim Suspensions

The DHC entered an order of interim suspension suspending the law license of John W. Roebuck Jr., of Rockingham until the conclusion of all disciplinary matters related to his felony conviction of maintaining a dwelling or vehicle for the purpose of using, keeping, or selling a controlled substance.

Censures

The DHC censured James T. Brown Jr. of Goldsboro. Brown assisted others in criminal conduct by preparing HUD-1 Settlement Statements misrepresenting purchases as refinances. The DHC dismissed several alleged violations based on conduct not constituting a felony and not within six years of the date that the underlying grievance was opened.

Robert J. Burford of Raleigh was censured by the Grievance Committee. Burford disbursed funds to himself from his trust account without identifying the client from whose entrusted funds the disbursements were made, comingled his own funds with entrusted funds, and disbursed more for the benefit of a client than he held in trust for that client. Burford also did not maintain quarterly reconciliations and did not maintain all required client files and trust account ledgers.

The DHC censured Curtis C. Osborne of Charlotte. Osborne engaged in a conflict of interest, made a frivolous argument, and was disruptive during a deposition.

David J. Turlington III of Boone was censured by the Grievance Committee. Turlington employed other attorneys' names and names of law firms in a keyword advertising campaign through Google's AdWords program. He continued this practice after publication of 2010 FEO 14, which states that an attorney's purchase or use of another attorney's name in an Internet search engine's keyword advertising program is dishonest. The committee also found Turlington knowingly made a false statement of material fact by claiming the inclusion of inappropriate keywords was inadvertent.

Reprimands

Cheri C. Patrick of Durham was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. Patrick and her client were sued by the client's ex-husband. Patrick had a conflict of interest and could not represent the client in the ex-husband's lawsuit. Nevertheless, Patrick prepared and sent to the client pleadings that the client filed pro se. Patrick knew or should have known that the unrepresented client would file the pleadings that Patrick prepared.

Staten L. Wilcox of Charlotte was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. While settling a client's personal injury case, Wilcox instructed a staff member to sign the client's name on the release form and settlement checks and to execute a false notarization of the release form. The Grievance Committee took into account several mitigating factors, including that the client was not harmed, Wilcox did not act with a selfish motive, and Wilcox had practiced law for 35 years without prior discipline.

Transfers to Disability Inactive Status

The chair of the Grievance Committee transferred Thomas Clements of Fayetteville to disability inactive status.

Reinstatements

In 2009 the DHC suspended Mark L. Bibbs of Wilson for one year for misconduct related to substance abuse. The DHC stayed the suspension upon Bibbs' compliance with numerous conditions. In January 2013 the DHC activated the one-year suspension of Bibbs' license for violating the terms of the 2009 order. Although he was eligible to seek reinstatement after three months, Bibbs chose to remain on active suspension for the entire year. Bibbs was reinstated by the secretary on January 6, 2014.

In 2008 the DHC suspended Paul Erickson of Asheville for five years. Erickson undertook to represent debtors at the behest of an unlawful debt relief service, followed that entity's instructions, and filed frivolous pleadings prepared by that entity. The DHC concluded that Erickson filed pleadings he knew to be false and contrary to established law. Erickson was reinstated by the secretary on October 25, 2013.

In July 2012 the DHC found that Gary Lawrence of Southport made sexual comments to and inappropriately touched three clients. He was suspended for three years. The order of discipline provided that Lawrence could apply for a stay of the suspension upon showing compliance with numerous conditions. After hearings on October 2, 2013, and January 10, 2014, the DHC reinstated Lawrence subject to numerous conditions.

Clarification

The Winter 2013 Journal included an item reporting the disbarment of David E. Duke of Youngsville. The order does not pertain to David M. Duke of Raleigh. David M. Duke of Raleigh is a member of the State Bar in good standing.

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