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From the Spring 2020 Journal

NOTE: More than 29,000 people are eligible to practice law in North Carolina. Some share the same or similar names. All discipline reports may be checked on the State Bar’s website at ncbar.gov/dhcorders.

DISBARMENTS

Mark L. Bibbs of Raleigh surrendered his license and was disbarred by the Wake County Superior Court. On January 23, Bibbs pled guilty to four counts of lobbying without registration, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of criminal contempt, all misdemeanors.

Lisa Blalock of Laurinburg surrendered her license and was disbarred by the State Bar Council on January 24. She admitted that she misappropriated entrusted funds totaling at least $11,892.90.

Suspensions & Stayed Suspensions

Mark L. Bibbs of Raleigh did not prepare accurate quarterly trust account reconciliations and did not maintain proper client ledgers for at least four years. The Disciplinary Hearing Commission suspended him for 18 months. The suspension was stayed for three years upon numerous conditions. After the order of discipline was entered, Bibbs was disbarred by the Wake County Superior Court for unrelated misconduct. See entry above.

Frank W. Erwin of Jacksonville had improper communication with an unrepresented party, did not disclose his representation of an interested party, made false statements to the Grievance Committee, and filed false documents with the court. He was suspended by the DHC for 18 months.

Karen C. Wright of Charlotte neglected many estate matters for many years, paid legal fees to her firm without obtaining required court approval, did not accurately report fees she paid to her firm, did not file required accounts, did not timely close estates, and violated multiple trust account rules. She was suspended by the DHC for five years. After serving two years of active suspension, Wright may apply for a stay of the balance upon demonstrating compliance with numerous conditions.

Completed Motions to Show Cause

In April 2018, the DHC suspended Philip S. Adkins for two years for numerous violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct governing trust accounts. The suspension was stayed for two years. In response to the State Bar’s motion to lift the stay and activate the suspension, Adkins brought his conduct into compliance with the conditions. By consent of the parties, the DHC extended the stay an additional 18 months.

In August 2019, the Wake County Superior Court enjoined Douglas P. Connor of Mount Olive from handling entrusted funds and from serving in any fiduciary capacity. Connor did not resign as trustee of a testamentary trust when the injunction was entered. The court ordered Connor to show cause why he should not be held in civil contempt. After hearing, the court found that Connor’s lack of compliance was not willful and directed him to resign from the trusteeship within ten days of entry of the court’s order.

Petitions for Reinstatement

In September 2018, the DHC suspended Frederick Owens of Wilmington because he charged and/or collected an illegal or clearly excessive fee, violated multiple trust account rules, did not properly supervise his nonlawyer assistant, and did not respond to the Grievance Committee. After serving 30 days active suspension, the order of discipline allowed Owens to seek a stay of the balance upon demonstrating compliance with numerous conditions. In December 2019, the DHC denied his petition for a stay.

Completed Grievance Noncompliance Actions before the DHC

Upon the State Bar’s motion, the chair of the DHC ordered Richard C. Poole of Greenville to show cause why his law license should not be suspended pursuant to 27 N.C. Admin. Code 1B § .0135 for failure to provide information and trust account records to the Grievance Committee. Poole did not respond to the show cause order. He was suspended by the DHC and will not be eligible for reinstatement until he provides the requested information and records.

Interim Suspensions

The chair of the DHC entered an order of interim suspension of the law license of Charlotte lawyer Parker Russell Himes. Himes was convicted of numerous drug offenses and was sentenced to 24 months of supervised probation.

The chair of the DHC entered an order of interim suspension of the law license of John V. Ivsan. Ivsan pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and one count of tax evasion, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201. He is currently incarcerated.

Reprimands

Joseph “Lee” Levinson of Raleigh did not promptly refund unearned fees as he agreed to do in fee dispute mediation and filed a frivolous counterclaim to the client’s resulting complaint in small claims court. He was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee.

Darren Day of Greenville was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee because he did not notify his client that he would not appeal suspension of his driver’s license until the deadline for appeal had passed.

Edward Seltzer of Charlotte was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee after a federal court chastised him for failing to attend scheduled hearings.

Shawntae R. Crews of Charlotte was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. She did not promptly deposit entrusted funds into an attorney trust account, disbursed conditionally delivered settlement funds to her client when her client was not then entitled to the funds, and engaged in dishonest conduct by deliberately failing to abide by the conditions under which she received the funds.

Nathan M. Garren of Creedmoor was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. In a 2017 real estate closing, Garren and his staff followed wiring instructions emailed to his office rather than following the wiring instructions provided by the intended recipient. As a result, his office wired entrusted funds to a fraudster. In 2019, Garren and his staff again failed to verify the authenticity of an email purporting to change wiring instructions and again wired entrusted funds to a fraudster.

Transfers to Disability Inactive Status

Jason D. Hegg, formerly of Jacksonville and currently living in Minnesota, was transferred to disability inactive status by the chair of the Grievance Committee.

Notice of Intent to Seek Reinstatement

In the Matter of Theodore G. Hale

Notice is hereby given that Theodore G. Hale of Wilmington intends to file a petition for reinstatement before the Disciplinary Hearing Commission of the North Carolina State Bar. Hale executed an affidavit of tender of surrender of license on October 13, 2004, and he filed said affidavit in the offices of the State Bar on October 14, 2004. Based on the affidavit, the chair found that Hale had misappropriated money from his former law partner, charged and collected money from the parents of a criminal defendant whom he was appointed to represent without telling them that he was obligated to represent their son at state expense due to the court appointment, and represented a woman in a divorce/equitable distribution case and collected and converted to his own use the proceeds of an annuity contract in the amount of $15,287.09, most of which belonged to her.  An Order of Disbarment was issued against Hale on October 14, 2004, and was effective immediately. 

In the Matter of Michael King

Notice is hereby given that Michael King of Salisbury intends to file a petition for reinstatement before the Disciplinary Hearing Commission of the North Carolina State Bar. King surrendered his license and was disbarred by the Disciplinary Hearing Commission of the North Carolina State Bar by Order dated October 3, 2005.  King’s disbarment was the result of a hearing before the Disciplinary Hearing Commission where he was found to have engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, misrepresentation, or deceit.

Individuals who wish to note their concurrence with or opposition to these petitions for reinstatement should file written notice with the secretary of the North Carolina State Bar, PO Box 25908, Raleigh, NC,  27611, before May 1, 2020 (60 days after publication).

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