Lawyer Disciplinary Bd. v. Hatfield, 18-0101

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtJenkins, Justice
Citation852 S.E.2d 785
Parties LAWYER DISCIPLINARY BOARD, Petitioner v. McGinnis E. HATFIELD, Jr., Respondent
Docket NumberNo. 18-0101,18-0101
Decision Date20 November 2020

852 S.E.2d 785

McGinnis E. HATFIELD, Jr., Respondent

No. 18-0101

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

Submitted: September 15, 2020
Filed: November 20, 2020

Rachel L. Fletcher Cipoletti, Chief Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel, Renee N. Frymyer, Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel, Office of Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel, Charleston, West Virginia, Attorneys for the Petitioner.

John W. Feuchtenberger, Princeton, West Virginia, Attorney for the Respondent.

Jenkins, Justice:

852 S.E.2d 788

This lawyer disciplinary proceeding against McGinnis E. Hatfield, Jr. ("Mr. Hatfield") was brought to this Court by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") on behalf of the Lawyer Disciplinary Board ("LDB"). The Hearing Panel Subcommittee ("HPS") of the LDB recommended the following disposition in its report to this Court: that Mr. Hatfield's license to practice law be annulled and that he pay the costs of these proceedings pursuant to Rule 3.15 of the West Virginia Rules of Lawyer Disciplinary Procedure. Thereafter, the ODC submitted its consent to the recommendation, and Mr. Hatfield filed his objection. After a thorough review of the record developed before the HPS, and upon careful consideration of the parties’ briefs and oral arguments and the relevant law, this Court concludes that Mr. Hatfield has violated multiple Rules of Professional Conduct and agrees with the recommendations of the HPS. Accordingly, this Court finds that the recommended sanctions are warranted.



Mr. Hatfield is a currently suspended1 lawyer who last practiced in Bluefield, located in Mercer County, West Virginia. Mr. Hatfield was admitted to the West Virginia State Bar on May 20, 1975, by diploma privilege. Accordingly, he is subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of this Court and its properly constituted LDB. Below we set out the conduct underlying this disciplinary matter as well as the relevant procedural history.

A. Underlying Conduct and Factual Background

The events relevant to the instant proceeding occurred in 2013. At some point in 2013, Mr. Hatfield visited the Cherry Bomb Gentlemen's Club with a friend. While at the club, the friend introduced Mr. Hatfield to B.W.2 Mr. Hatfield claims that he then proceeded to pay B.W. for a lap dance.3 Subsequent to this interaction,4 on August 29, 2013,5 B.W. filed a complaint before the LDB alleging that during that same month she had asked Mr. Hatfield to represent her in a divorce action in Mercer County, West Virginia. B.W. further asserted that Mr. Hatfield "asked whether [B.W.] had $1,500 for his services and [she] told him [she] did not." B.W. alleged that based on her inability to pay, Mr. Hatfield indicated he would only represent her if she engaged in explicit sexual acts with him in lieu of the $1,500. "He then persisted in trying to get sexual favors in exchange for representation." B.W. asserted that she "told him that [she] was not interested in him and that [she] had recorded his requests for sexual favors[,]" and he responded to her that "he did not care because he was ‘untouchable.’ " In addition to the written complaint, B.W. attached six separate audio recordings to her complaint, which she claimed contained telephone conversations with Mr. Hatfield wherein he requested sex from B.W. in exchange for his representation of her in her divorce proceeding. In one such recording, the following exchange occurred:

Mr. Hatfield: I can't do anything. We're just going to have to talk (UI). Okay? Did you take your papers to the courthouse?
852 S.E.2d 789
B.W.: No not yet because I have to go over there tomorrow.

Mr. Hatfield: Well, take them there and show them to them face to face, show them what you've got and say, look, I need to have forms for me to file, you know, to reply to this.

B.W.: I know, but I thought like when we first started out, I was just going to pay you. I didn't know that you wanted sex out of the whole thing.

Mr. Hatfield: Well, I'd have to charge you like [$]1,500 bucks. You don't have [$]1,500, do you?

B.W.: No.

Mr. Hatfield: So come on out here. Just come. What time do you want to come?

B.W.: I don't know if I'd be able to make it because I have to go to work.


Mr. Hatfield: Well, come over here at five.


Mr. Hatfield: Yeah. Okay. You know, if you don't want to – you told me earlier, you'd be over here at seven. Then something else comes up, you stood me up yesterday. And, you know, I'm – it's just not going to work unless you do what I say.

B.W.: What do you want me to do?

Mr. Hatfield: You know what I want you to do. I told you.

B.W.: Well, I'm a little confused.

Mr. Hatfield: Well, there's nothing to be confused about.

B.W.: Well, what do you want me to do?

Mr. Hatfield: Well, I want you to let me eat your p****, and then I want you to let – I want you to suck my d***, and then, you know, I just have to – I'm as straightforward as I can be. And if you don't want to do that, then fine. I don't have any – I like you. And if you don't want to do that, then we'll just have to call it off.


Mr. Hatfield: Is that okay?

B.W.: I mean no, not really because I'm not a whore.

Mr. Hatfield: Well, I'm not treating you as a whore. I'm just telling you, I'm an old man that needs some sex and I like you. And if you want to do it, that's fine. If you don't, that's okay, too. I know you're not a whore. That's ridiculous. But I've been straight up with you, [B.W.], I mean I – you know –[.]

B.W.: Well, I didn't know until today that that's all you wanted.

Mr. Hatfield: Well, I told you today what I wanted and if you don't – if you don't want to come through with that, that's okay. I'm all right with it. ... And like I said, if you don't want to do that, then that's fine by me. I wish you luck. And if you don't want to do that, then I'm not going to try to represent you. So that's a benefit for you. And I'll give you some money, too. I guarantee you I'll give you more than $6, which is what you made the last time you worked....


B.W.: I mean do you sleep with everybody that you represent?

Mr. Hatfield: Oh, gosh, no. Maybe once or twice in almost 40 years....

During another recorded conversation Mr. Hatfield stated to B.W. that

[y]ou know, I'm shooting straight with you. I told you from the beginning that sex was important to me. I want some now. Nobody's tried to trick you. And it would be safe, too. But anyway, if you don't want [to] do it, that's fine by me, [h]oney, but you'll have to get somebody to help you with your divorce, too.

Mr. Hatfield also left B.W. several voice messages. On one such message, Mr. Hatfield stated

[B.W.], it's Mackie again. Call me back. I mean why did you hang up on me for? Good grief. Give me a buzz back, 304-***-****. Talk to you soon. And if you don't want to do that, that's fine, but (UI) we'll get away from each other and that will be the end of that. I like you and, you know, I'm interested in sex. Who isn't? I mean what's the problem? I don't get it. Anyway, give me a call back if you can. If not then good luck to you. Bye-bye.
852 S.E.2d 790

B. Statement of Charges and Recommendation of the HPS

Mr. Hatfield formally responded to the complaint on September 9, 2013. His response consisted of one sentence: "In response to your letter dated August 30, 2013, in regards to the complainant [B.W.], there was no client/attorney relationship."

On November 5, 2013, B.W. provided a sworn statement to the ODC. She testified that she met Mr. Hatfield through a mutual friend, a physician that she sometimes worked for. Specifically, she stated that she had met Mr. Hatfield twice: once at the Cherry Bomb Gentlemen's Club and once at a Mexican restaurant. At some point B.W. had spoken with Mr. Hatfield about representing her in her divorce proceeding. He said he would represent her, and she gave him her phone number. Subsequently, Mr. Hatfield told her he would not represent her unless she had sex with him. B.W. verified that the female voice on the audio recordings was hers and the male voice was Mr. Hatfield's. She further stated that following the discussions and messages with Mr. Hatfield, she quit her job as an exotic dancer because of how uncomfortable she felt and because everybody was looking at her as someone "[t]hat they could just have sex with" and she would "do whatever they wanted."

In late 2013, Mr. Hatfield was involved in an incident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. As such, in early 2014, the ODC requested an administrative stay of the investigation of the complaint against Mr. Hatfield. On March 31, 2014, the Investigative Panel6 of the LDB granted the requested administrative stay. Additionally, due to his significantly impaired medical condition, during this time, Mr. Hatfield was placed on inactive status with the West Virginia State Bar.

Subsequently, on May 25, 2017, the ODC received a letter from an attorney, James Palmer, III, notifying it that Mr. Hatfield agreed to reactivate his law license to supervise Mr. Palmer's practice.7 The ODC sent Mr. Hatfield a letter inquiring about his current medical status and asking whether there were any updates on the pending disciplinary...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 cases
  • W. Va. Reg'l Jail & Corr. Facility Auth. v. Grove, 18-1076
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 20, 2020
    ...damages are applicable in this matter, and appropriate consideration of whether the case is barred by the doctrine of qualified immunity.852 S.E.2d 785 Reversed and Remanded with Instructions.--------Notes:1 The Estate does concede, for the purposes of this appeal, that the WVRJCA is a stat......
  • Lawyer Disciplinary Bd. v. Schillace, 20-0233
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 29, 2022
    ...702 (2019); Law. Disciplinary Bd. v. Morgan, 243 W.Va. 627, 849 S.E.2d 627 (2020); Law. Disciplinary Bd. v. Hatfield, 244 W.Va. 285, 852 S.E.2d 785 (2020). [5] In Lawyer Disciplinary Board v. Sidiropolis, 241 W.Va. 777, 828 S.E.2d 839 (2019), the two-year suspension imposed on the responden......
  • In re Perry, 19-1180
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • November 10, 2021
    ...who sought sexual favors from a prospective client in exchange for legal services. See Lawyer Disc. Bd. v. Hatfield, 244 W.Va. 285, 852 S.E.2d 785 (2020). In that matter, this Court stated it "cannot and will not condone the type of conduct engaged in by Mr. Hatfield." Id., 244 W.Va. at, 85......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT