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From the Fall 2019 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

Edward F. Dunnavant of Wilmington surrendered his law license and was disbarred by the Wake County Superior Court. Dunnavant admitted that he misappropriated funds entrusted to him for payment of court costs and fines totaling at least $764 and that he failed to promptly pay third parties or clients amounts totaling an additional $7,113.87, a portion of which he utilized for his own benefit and the rest of which he intended to use for his own benefit.

Dennis H. Sullivan Jr. of Wilmington was suspended for three years in 12 DHC 1. The suspension was stayed for five years. When the stay was lifted and the suspension was activated because Sullivan did not comply with conditions of the stay, he abandoned two clients, did not return unearned fees, did not respond to the Grievance Committee, and did not participate in mandatory fee dispute resolution. He was disbarred by the DHC.

Suspensions & Stayed Suspensions

While Jerry Braswell of Goldsboro was serving a five-year suspension imposed by the DHC in 16 DHC 27, he submitted false information to a federal court on a petition for admission pro hac vice and did not notify his clients that his law license was suspended. The DHC imposed a second five-year suspension which will run consecutively to the suspension in 16 DHC 27.

Giles Cameron Byrd of Lake Waccamaw was convicted of misdemeanor obstruction of justice for providing false information on a client’s application for a limited driving privilege. Byrd also altered a plea agreement after the prosecutor signed it, and attempted to have a civil litigant held in contempt of court for failing to comply with an order that was no longer valid and had not been served on the litigant. The DHC suspended him for four years. After serving two years of active suspension, he may petition for a stay of the balance upon showing compliance with enumerated conditions.

Frank Cassiano of Greenville took advantage of a client in a prohibited business transaction, made false statements to his client, and made false statements to the court in the lawsuit his client filed against him. He was suspended by the DHC for five years. The suspension is deemed to have begun on April 19, 2017, the date his petition for reinstatement from administrative suspension, which was never granted, was first considered.

Charles Coppage of Kill Devil Hills violated trust accounting rules, including failing to reconcile his trust accounts. He was suspended by the DHC for two years. The suspension is stayed for two years upon Coppage’s compliance with enumerated conditions.

Bernell Daniel-Weeks of Durham advised a client to violate a court order; did not communicate with, neglected, and abandoned multiple clients; did not refund unearned fees; and did not respond to the Grievance Committee. She was suspended by the DHC for five years. After serving two years of active suspension, she may petition for a stay of the balance upon showing compliance with enumerated conditions.

Travis Simpson of Winston-Salem did not communicate adequately with and neglected multiple clients, dismissed a case without the client’s consent, attempted to settle a potential claim that he committed malpractice without advising the former client to obtain independent legal advice, and did not respond to the Grievance Committee. The DHC suspended him for three years. After serving 18 months of active suspension, he may petition for a stay of the balance upon showing compliance with enumerated conditions.

Interim Suspensions

J. Brandon Graham of Gaston County pled guilty to felony possession of methamphetamine in October 2018 in Union County. On April 22, 2019, the chair of the DHC entered an order of interim suspension of his law license.

Censures

Craig Asbill of Charlotte was censured by the Grievance Committee. He neglected his client’s case, did not communicate with his client, and did not respond to the Grievance Committee.

New Orleans lawyer David Capasso was censured by the Grievance Committee. Capasso falsely represented on a motion for admission to a federal court pro hac vice that he had never been the subject of any formal suspension or disbarment proceedings.

Reprimands

After the DHC suspended him for five years in 16 DHC 10, China Grove lawyer Keith Booker did not promptly refund an unearned fee and did not respond to the Grievance Committee. He was reprimanded by the DHC.

Darren Haley of Greenville, South Carolina, is licensed in Virginia and South Carolina. Haley did not disclose his full disciplinary history in a motion to be admitted pro hac vice to a North Carolina court. He was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee.

The Grievance Committee reprimanded Gregory A. Newman of Hendersonville. While he was in private practice in 2007, Newman represented a criminal defendant who entered a guilty plea on drug charges. In 2016, while he was the elected district attorney for Prosecutorial District 29B, Newman consented to his former client’s motion for appropriate relief, consented to strike the guilty plea, and dismissed the criminal charges. Newman also made a material misrepresentation to the Grievance Committee.

Andy Roberts of Raleigh undertook criminal representation he was not competent to provide. He advised his client to accept a plea agreement requiring forfeiture of her home without reasonably consulting with her about the terms of her plea and any potential defenses to forfeiture. He was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee.

J. Eric Skager of High Point was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. Skager did not appear in court for his client’s traffic case. As a result, an order was entered suspending his client’s license and the client incurred substantial unnecessary expenses. Skager represented to the Grievance Committee that he would file a motion for appropriate relief and refund the client’s resulting expenses, but did not do so. Skager also did not respond fully to the Grievance Committee.

The State Bar alleged that Venus Yvette Springs, formerly of Charlotte and currently of New York, published material obtained in discovery on YouTube for no substantial purpose other than to embarrass a third party and maintained the publication after the court ordered her to take it down. She was reprimanded by the DHC.

Jeffrey Weber of Greensboro engaged in a variety of misconduct including violation of Bankruptcy Court rules, inadequate communication with a client, disclosing a client’s confidential information, and failing to respond timely to the Grievance Committee. The Grievance Committee found that Weber’s personal and health circumstances were significantly mitigating and imposed a reprimand.

The Grievance Committee reprimanded Alton Williams of Raleigh. Williams did not resolve his client’s traffic cases for several years, did not timely communicate with the client, and did not promptly respond to the Grievance Committee.

Reinstatements from Disbarment

David Shawn Clark of Hickory was disbarred in 2013 for having sex with a client, making false statements to a tribunal and to the Grievance Committee, attempting to suborn perjury, being convicted of several criminal charges including communicating threats and obstruction of justice, intentionally disclosing client confidences, and engaging in a conflict of interest. The DHC denied his petition for reinstatement.

In 2013, Alexander Lapinski of Durham surrendered his law license and was disbarred by the Wake County Superior Court after he pled guilty to one felony count of aiding and abetting the unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization. He withdrew his petition for reinstatement.

Reinstatements from Disability Inactive Status

In February 2018, the chair of the Grievance Committee transferred Powell Glidewell of Newland to disability inactive status. On May 9, 2019, the chair of the DHC reinstated his license to active status.

 

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