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Volume 9, Number 4 (Winter 2004)

Disbarments

Eight North Carolina lawyers have been disbarred recently for embezzling client or fiduciary funds. They are Anthony Corbett of Louisburg; Winston-Salem attorney Gene A. Dickey; W. Kelly Elder of Burlington; Ted Hale of Wilmington; Elizabeth High of Raleigh; Roman C. Pibl of Salisbury; Lewis Swindell IV of Chocowinity; and N. Jerome Willingham of Jacksonville.

Two other lawyers have been disbarred for misconduct unrelated to the handling of client or fiduciary funds. S. Allen Patterson of Cary consented to an order of disbarment by the DHC in September, following his guilty plea in federal court to felony charges of violating 18 USC Sections 371 and 1349. Elizabeth Kohler-Blevins of Raleigh was disbarred in October for dishonest conduct before the courts, neglecting a series of client matters, and other violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Suspensions and Stayed Suspensions

Asheville attorney Janese Baliles was disciplined pursuant to a consent order of discipline entered by the DHC in October 2004. The order suspended Baliles’ law license for six months and stayed the suspension for two years upon various conditions. Baliles failed to obtain final title insurance policies in a number of cases and failed to deliver funds for the insurance policies as directed.

Wilmington lawyer Terry Zick was disciplined for neglecting a series of client matters, failing to return unearned fees, failing to respond to the State Bar, and other violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Following a hearing on July 30 and 31, 2004, the DHC suspended Zick’s law license for five years and provided that she could seek a stay of the final two years of the suspension if she complies with certain conditions.

Following trial on September 10, the DHC found that William Shumway of Hendersonville mismanaged his trust account and failed to respond to the State Bar. The commission suspended Shumway’s license for five years and stayed the suspension for five years.

The DHC suspended the law license of Greensboro lawyer Ed Zotian for five years after finding that Zotian misappropriated funds from his former law firm and lied about his conduct.

Roger Rizk of Charlotte consented to an order of discipline finding that he failed to file timely tax returns. His law license was suspended for five years and the DHC’s order permits him to seek a stay of the final three years of the suspension if Rizk complies with certain conditions.

Holly Saunders of Charlotte was disciplined in August 2004 for neglecting a client matter and failing to respond to the Bar. The Disciplinary Hearing Commission suspended Saunders’ law license for three years, the last two years of which may be stayed upon compliance with various conditions.

Ed Seltzer of Charlotte entered into a consent order in July 2004 that suspended his law license for three years and stayed the suspension for five years, on various conditions. Seltzer neglected several client matters and failed to return unearned advance fees.

The DHC suspended Hickory attorney Theodore Cummings’ law license for two years and stayed the suspension for two years pursuant to a consent order entered in late July 2004. The order found that Cummings failed to file and/or pay state and federal taxes when due and failed to respond to inquiries of the State Bar.

Reidsville lawyer Richard Broadnax was disciplined following a hearing in August 2004 for neglecting a client’s case and failing to respond to the State Bar’s letter of notice and notice of mandatory fee dispute mediation. The DHC suspended Broadnax’s law license for three years and provided that the last two years of the order could be stayed upon compliance with various conditions.

Following trial in July, the DHC found that Charlotte lawyer Michael McGee misrepresented information regarding property valuations in his personal bankruptcy proceeding and transferred assets belonging to the bankruptcy estate to himself. McGee’s license was suspended for five years, the last two years of which may be stayed upon compliance with various conditions.

Censures & Reprimands

The Grievance Committee censured three attorneys at its meeting in July 2004. Henry Drake was disciplined for helping a client convey real estate to a third party on the eve of entry of an adverse judgment against the client. William L. Mason of Wadesboro was censured for misleading a mortgage broker about his malpractice coverage by altering an expired policy and Robert Hume of Cape Carteret was censured for neglecting client matters, failing to communicate with the clients, and failing to participate in the mandatory fee dispute resolution process.

David Hoke and Debra Graves, both of whom are former employees of the Attorney General’s Office, were reprimanded following trial before the DHC in late September 2004. They failed to disclose exculpatory evidence to defense counsel in a capital case.

In July 2004 the Grievance Committee reprimanded six lawyers. Deborah G. Church of Mooresville was disciplined for engaging in a conflict of interest in a domestic case and Milton Goff of Durham was reprimanded for missing a court date and allowing a default judgment to be entered against a client. Joe Kosko of Rolesville was disciplined for preparing a false HUD-1 settlement statement and directing a notary to execute a false jurat. William H. Sessoms Jr. of Whiteville was reprimanded for failing to properly supervise a non-lawyer employee who was mishandling loan closing and Richard Steinbronn of Andrews was reprimanded for assisting a corporation to engage in the unauthorized practice of law.

Transfers to Disability Inactive Status

Bonnie O’Neal of Greensboro was transferred to disability inactive status following a trial in October. 2004. She is from Greensboro.

Notice of Intent to Seek Reinstatement

Individuals who wish to note their concurrence with or opposition to these Petitions should file written notice with the secretary of the State Bar, PO Box 25908, Raleigh, NC 27611, before February 1, 2005 (60 days from publication).

In the Matter of Northrope D. Rice

Notice is hereby given that Northrope D. Rice intends to file a petition for reinstatement before the Disciplinary Hearing Commission of the North Carolina State Bar. Rice was disbarred effective May l, 1995, for failure to perfect an appeal and other matters. The disbarment order in Mr. Rice’s case found that he failed to perfect a client’s appeal, lied to the client about the status of the appeal, lied to the North Carolina Industrial Commission about the status of the client’s appeal, and prejudiced the interests of two other clients.

In the Matter of Robert Winfrey

Notice is hereby given that Robert Winfrey, or Greensboro, intends to file a petition for reinstatement before the Disciplinary Hearing Commission of the North Carolina State Bar. Winfrey was disbarred in November 1999 for misappropriation of trust account funds. Full restitution has been made.

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