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From the Fall 2022 Journal

NOTE: More than 30,500 people are licensed 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

R. Cherry Stokes of Greenville was convicted of eight felony counts of serious injury by vehicle. He was operating his vehicle while under the influence of an impairing substance in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat.§ 20-138.1. His affidavit of surrender was accepted by the Disciplinary Hearing Commission (DHC) and he was disbarred effective October 31, 2022. Stokes had been disbarred in 1987 for sale and delivery of cocaine and was reinstated in 1993.

Peter Anderson of Charlotte submitted an affidavit of surrender and was disbarred by the council at its July meeting. Anderson acknowledged that he misappropriated $54,024.67 of a fee to which his law firm was entitled.

Suspensions & Stayed Suspensions

Perry Mastromichalis of Raleigh forged a signature on an application for insurance and submitted an affidavit containing false and/or misleading information to the Grievance Committee. The DHC suspended him for four years. Mastromichalis will be eligible to seek a stay after two years active suspension upon demonstrating compliance with enumerated conditions.

For three years, Jim Melo of Raleigh withheld funds from his employees’ paychecks for federal taxes but instead used the funds for his own purposes. The DHC suspended Melo for five years. Melo will be eligible to seek a stay after 18 months active suspension upon demonstrating compliance with enumerated conditions.

Reprimands

Steven Gourley of Smithfield was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee for engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice by failing to disclose a conflict of interest to his superiors when he was an assistant district attorney.

David D. Moore of Sylva was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. Moore quoted a clearly excessive fee despite having a flat fee arrangement with his client. The client hired new counsel and requested her file. In exchange for her file, Moore provided a release and indemnification form for the client to sign, which purported to release “any and all claims whatsoever which may arise” from his representation. He did not advise his client in writing of the desirability of seeking, nor provide his client a reasonable opportunity to seek, the advice of independent legal counsel. Moore also did not adequately supervise a nonlawyer assistant.

Deborrah L. Newton of Raleigh was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee for engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and for collecting clearly excessive fees. Newton failed to keep contemporaneous client-specific timesheets in multiple indigent criminal defense cases and thus submitted fee applications containing inaccurate and excessive billing entries.

Completed Petitions for Reinstatement/Stay – Contested

Kenneth F. Irek of North Hills, California, was disbarred by the DHC in 1993 for misappropriating entrusted funds. The DHC denied his 2022 Rule 60 motion seeking to vacate the disbarment order. His appeal is pending.

Notice of Intent to Seek Reinstatement

In the Matter of Demetrius G. Rainer

Notice is hereby given that Demetrius G. Rainer of Charlotte, NC, intends to file a petition for reinstatement before the Disciplinary Hearing Commission of the North Carolina State Bar. Rainer was disbarred in 2009 pursuant to a Consent Order of Disbarment filed on March 5, 2009.

Individuals who wish to note their concurrence with or opposition to this petition should file written notice with the secretary of the State Bar, PO Box 25908, Raleigh, NC 27611-5908, before November 1, 2022.

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