Edwards, Matter of, No. 24138

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; Welbor Walker was scheduled to be deposed at a hearing conducted by a special referee. He did not attend. The special referee called respondent and asked for his assistance in scheduling a second hearing. A second hearing was scheduled, b
Citation323 S.C. 3,448 S.E.2d 547
PartiesIn the Matter of William H. EDWARDS, Sr., Respondent.
Decision Date15 August 1994
Docket NumberNo. 24138

Page 547

448 S.E.2d 547
In the Matter of William H. EDWARDS, Sr., Respondent.
No. 24138.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Submitted June 21, 1994.
Decided Aug. 15, 1994.

Atty. Gen. T. Travis Medlock, and Asst. Atty. Gen. James G. Bogle, Jr., Columbia, for complainant.

J.C. Coleman, Columbia, for respondent.

PER CURIAM:

In this attorney grievance proceeding, respondent admits that he has committed ethical violations and consents to disbarment. We accept respondent's admission to these ethical violations and disbar him.

The ethical violations committed by respondent arise from certain matters he handled in his capacity as an attorney and his subsequent refusal to cooperate with the investigation in a number of those matters. The facts are as follows:

The Blue Cross Matter

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina (hereinafter Blue Cross) disbursed funds to medical service providers on behalf of four group members who were involved in automobile accidents and who were represented by respondent. Respondent signed an agreement to protect the subrogation interests of Blue Cross and to collect a certain amount of funds for the clients pursuant to the subrogation agreement. Each of the cases was settled and respondent did not protect the interest of Blue Cross, nor provide funds to Blue Cross as set forth in the subrogation agreement. Respondent also failed to return telephone messages and answer letters regarding the subrogation interest and demanding the funds.

As to his clients, respondent advised two of them that he would pay all of their medical bills. Although respondent retained funds from the settlements in two of the cases to pay medical bills, he failed to provide one of the clients with an itemized statement and failed to notify another if payment had been made to two of her medical providers.

Finally, when the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline (hereinafter the Board) began investigating this matter, respondent failed to respond to the Board's inquiry and failed to produce files regarding the clients involved in response to a subpoena.

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The Trans Regional Manufacturing Company Matter

Respondent loaned sums of money to Trans Regional Manufacturing Company at a time when he and/or his law firm were acting as legal counsel to that company.

The Girtharean Castile Matter

Girtharean Castile was injured in an automobile accident and her son hired respondent, without her knowledge, to represent her in this matter. After an insurance adjuster began contacting Castile regarding the location of her automobile, respondent contacted the adjuster himself. After several telephone calls and letters were exchanged between respondent and the adjuster regarding the location of the automobile, the adjuster informed respondent that the insurance company would not accept a bill for storage of the automobile because of respondent's unwillingness to mitigate Castile's losses. Castile had a conference with respondent and thereafter telephoned the adjuster and gave him the location of the automobile which had been in storage for sixty days at a cost of $5.00 per day. Castile was informed that her case had been turned over to the insurance company's attorneys. She then hired another attorney, John Mason, to represent her in this matter and attempted to retrieve her file from respondent. Respondent refused to give Castile her file and continued to visit her in an effort to persuade her to return the case to him. At one point, he told her that he had $15,000 to give her with no legal fees. Correspondence from Mason informing respondent that he was representing Castile and again requesting her file received no reply. Thereafter, respondent contacted the adjusting company and informed them that he planned to place a lien on any settlement proceeds paid to Castile. A settlement was eventually reached between Castile's new attorney and the insurance company for $10,500. Castile's potential settlement was reduced by the amount of the storage fees which had accumulated as a result of respondent's failure to tell the adjusting company where the automobile was located.

The ASAP Process Service Matter

Respondent engaged the services of ASAP Process Service in two of his cases. Respondent failed to pay for those services and neglected and/or refused to respond to repeated bills, telephone calls, and inquiries regarding the monies owed. Furthermore, respondent failed to reply to the grievance filed with the Board in this matter.

The Lila Mae Jones Matter

Lila Mae Jones retained respondent to represent her in a possible medical malpractice action. Jones gave respondent $800 that he told her was necessary to have someone review her medical records. Thereafter, Jones made numerous inquiries of respondent concerning the status of her case but received no reply or insufficient information. No medical malpractice suit was ever filed on her behalf, no professional was ever secured to review her medical records, and her file and monies were never returned to her. Furthermore, respondent failed to reply to the grievance filed with the Board in this matter and failed to respond to a number of letters from the Board regarding this matter.

The Welbor Walker Matter

Welbor Walker was scheduled to be deposed at a hearing conducted by a special referee. He did not attend. The special referee called respondent and asked for his assistance in scheduling a second hearing. A second hearing was scheduled, but neither Walker nor respondent appeared. Thereafter, Judge Peeples directed that Walker appear on January 10, 1989, or risk contempt of court. Respondent accompanied Walker to the hearing on that date and acted as his attorney. However, Walker did not testify truthfully. Respondent knowingly allowed his client to present false testimony.

The Wright Matters

Respondent represented Larry Wright d/b/a Wright's on Main, Inc. in two actions. In the first action, the opposing party filed a motion for summary judgment. A hearing was scheduled on the motion, but respondent did not appear. The judge directed that a call be placed to his office and received information

Page 549

that respondent was aware of the hearing but was neither in his office nor in court. The motion for summary judgment was granted. Respondent did not notify Wright of the hearing or its outcome.

In the second action, the opposing party also filed a motion for summary judgment which was granted when respondent failed to appear at the hearing. Respondent, again, did not notify Wright of the hearing or the outcome.

After summary judgment was granted in the second action, respondent filed a motion to be relieved as counsel with regard to the first action. On that same day, he filed a release signed by him and purportedly signed by Wright. The release had the civil action numbers for both suits on it. The signature of Wright, however, was forged. Both the release and the motion to be relieved as counsel were filed without the knowledge, notice or authorization of Wright.

The Edwards' Law Firm Matter

Respondent commenced an action against his former law partners and associates for an accounting, claim and delivery, and conversion. The case came before Judge Connor on several motions of defendants. Respondent's attorneys appeared, but respondent did not. His attorneys asked to be relieved and their request was granted. An expedited hearing was set, but respondent again did not appear. At that hearing, the defendants demanded an accounting. Judge Connor issued an order finding that respondent had failed to follow her prior order to send her a list of cases received in his law firm since July 31, 1991, that respondent had not appeared, and that he had not contacted her to explain why he had not complied with her prior order. She further ruled that respondent was not entitled to any monies received from the proceeds of settlements in four cases. Finally, Judge Connor ruled that respondent had withheld sums of money in certain cases to be paid to appropriate medical providers, that that money had not been paid, and that respondent was obligated to pay those expenses.

The Ethel Johnson Berry Matters

Ethel Johnson Berry and her mother, Alice Johnson, contacted respondent regarding the sale of some real estate owned by Johnson. Thereafter, respondent informed Berry and Johnson that Frank Robinson had an interest in purchasing the property. A purchase price of $22,000 was arranged with a $2,000 down payment and the mortgage to be financed by Johnson in the amount of $20,000. Respondent served as the closing attorney for the transaction and the property was purchased in the name of Dove Enterprises. Respondent was paid a legal fee of approximately $300 for the closing. At the time of the transaction, respondent failed to disclose to Berry and Johnson that he and/or his wife had a substantial interest in Dove Enterprises. Johnson's mortgage was not properly recorded at the courthouse. Approximately one month later, Dove Enterprises sold the property to Dildra McKnight for approximately $45,000 with respondent serving as the closing attorney and without any disclosure to Berry and Johnson. The McKnight deed and mortgage were recorded immediately. The deed reflects Dove Enterprises as the grantor and bears what is purportedly the signature of respondent's wife as the president of Dove Enterprises. Thereafter, Robinson...

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8 practice notes
  • In the Matter of Jacobsen, Opinion No. 26783 (S.C. 3/1/2010), No. 26783
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 1, 2010
    ...or ask for panel hearing and continued to represent client after he was suspended for multiple counts of misconduct); In re Edwards, 323 S.C. 3, 448 S.E.2d 547 (1994) (holding disbarment was appropriate sanction where attorney failed to keep clients informed, misappropriated or improperly u......
  • In re Murph, No. 25479.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 3, 2002
    ...with reasonable requests for information, or cooperate with disciplinary investigation warranted disbarment); In the Matter of Edwards, 323 S.C. 3, 448 S.E.2d 547 (1994)(attorney disbarred for failing to keep clients informed, misappropriating or improperly using client funds, knowingly pre......
  • In re Adams, No. 25157.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 26, 2000
    ...these funds for his own gain, failing to act with reasonable diligence, and engaging in morally reprehensible conduct); Matter of Edwards, 323 S.C. 3, 448 S.E.2d 547 (1994) (attorney disbarred for failing to keep clients informed, misappropriating or improperly using client funds, knowingly......
  • Matter of Wofford, No. 24785.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 11, 1998
    ...924 (1997); Matter of Mundy, 326 S.C. 194, 485 S.E.2d 381 (1997); Matter of Boyle, 316 S.C. 375, 450 S.E.2d 578 (1994); Matter of Edwards, 323 S.C. 3, 448 S.E.2d 547 We conclude respondent's misconduct warrants disbarment from the practice of law.1 Within fifteen (15) days of the date of th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • In the Matter of Jacobsen, Opinion No. 26783 (S.C. 3/1/2010), No. 26783
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 1, 2010
    ...or ask for panel hearing and continued to represent client after he was suspended for multiple counts of misconduct); In re Edwards, 323 S.C. 3, 448 S.E.2d 547 (1994) (holding disbarment was appropriate sanction where attorney failed to keep clients informed, misappropriated or improperly u......
  • In re Murph, No. 25479.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 3, 2002
    ...with reasonable requests for information, or cooperate with disciplinary investigation warranted disbarment); In the Matter of Edwards, 323 S.C. 3, 448 S.E.2d 547 (1994)(attorney disbarred for failing to keep clients informed, misappropriating or improperly using client funds, knowingly pre......
  • In re Adams, No. 25157.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 26, 2000
    ...these funds for his own gain, failing to act with reasonable diligence, and engaging in morally reprehensible conduct); Matter of Edwards, 323 S.C. 3, 448 S.E.2d 547 (1994) (attorney disbarred for failing to keep clients informed, misappropriating or improperly using client funds, knowingly......
  • Matter of Wofford, No. 24785.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 11, 1998
    ...924 (1997); Matter of Mundy, 326 S.C. 194, 485 S.E.2d 381 (1997); Matter of Boyle, 316 S.C. 375, 450 S.E.2d 578 (1994); Matter of Edwards, 323 S.C. 3, 448 S.E.2d 547 We conclude respondent's misconduct warrants disbarment from the practice of law.1 Within fifteen (15) days of the date of th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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