Matter of Celsor, No. 24780.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation499 S.E.2d 809,330 S.C. 497
PartiesIn the Matter of Richard L. CELSOR, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 24780.
Decision Date13 April 1998

330 S.C. 497
499 S.E.2d 809

In the Matter of Richard L. CELSOR, Respondent

No. 24780.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Heard March 4, 1998.

Decided April 13, 1998.


330 S.C. 498
Attorney General Charles M. Condon, Senior Assistant Attorney General James G. Bogle, Jr., Columbia, for complainant

S.R. Anderson, of Anderson & Jordan, Columbia, for respondent.

PER CURIAM:

This is an attorney disciplinary matter.1 The hearing Panel found respondent violated Rule 1.1, of Rule 407, SCACR, by handling legal matters he was not competent to handle and failing to secure a power of attorney to sign a client's name on legal documents; Rule 3.3, of Rule 407, SCACR, by making false statements to the circuit and probate courts and engaging in conduct which involves misrepresentation and is prejudicial to the administration of justice; and Rule 413, SCACR, ¶¶5A and E, by violating the oath of office and demonstrating a lack of professional competence. The full Panel adopted the hearing Panel's report and recommendation of a public reprimand. We agree with the findings and conclusions made by the Panel. We further agree the appropriate sanction is a public reprimand.

DISCUSSION

Respondent's admitted misconduct centers around his handling of a probate matter and a related wrongful death action. Bonnie Faye Rish was murdered in Richland County in December 1991. Her only survivor was her minor daughter, Joli Denise Rish. Joli turned eighteen years old on

330 S.C. 499
October 11, 1992. Respondent represented Joli in the probate of Bonnie's estate. Respondent also filed a wrongful death action in circuit court on behalf of Joli on October 6, 1994. The action was brought in Joli's name as personal representative of Bonnie's estate.2 In the wrongful death action, respondent alleged that Joli had been appointed personal representative of her mother's estate. However, the petition for appointment was not filed until July 1995 and Joli was not appointed until August 7, 1995. The Panel found respondent made a misrepresentation to the court

The Panel also found respondent was incompetent in his handling of the probate and wrongful death actions. Respondent testified that he was unaware that the only person authorized to commence a wrongful death action was the duly appointed personal representative of the decedent's estate.3

Respondent contends the complaint in this disciplinary matter did not allege he was incompetent to handle the wrongful death action and the probate matters. The complaint, however, encompasses this finding of misconduct. It is not a new matter—the entire disciplinary proceeding stemmed from respondent's handling of these actions. More importantly, it is respondent who admitted he basically did not know what he was doing. He testified that he had never handled a probate matter or a wrongful death action. Even though he testified he spent two years researching the law prior to filing the wrongful death action, he still did not follow the proper procedure.

330 S.C. 500
As to the improper signing and notarizing, in the beginning of 1996, respondent filed several documents with the probate court regarding Bonnie's estate. A probate court clerk questioned respondent about Joli's signature appearing differently on several documents. Respondent admits signing Joli's name on several documents and he also admits he notarized the signature. He claims he signed Joli's name because he had an oral power of attorney allowing him to sign her name. A Power of Attorney dated January 3, 1996, was presented to the probate court. However, several documents signed and notarized...

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5 practice notes
  • Hodge v. Unihealth Post-Acute Care of Bamberg, LLC, Appellate Case No. 2015-001183
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 7, 2018
    ...the document. Id. at 433 (citation omitted)."[A] power of attorney should be evidenced by an instrument in writing." Matter of Celsor , 330 S.C. 497, 501, 499 S.E.2d 809, 811 (1998)."The relationship of agency need not depend upon express appointment and acceptance thereof. Generally, agenc......
  • Chewning v. Ford Motor Co., No. 3351.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 4, 2001
    ...is consistent with attorney disciplinary opinions finding attorney misrepresentations to be fraud upon the court. See, e.g., In re Celsor, 330 S.C. 497, 501, 499 S.E.2d 809, 811 (1998) (finding improper signature without valid power of attorney, notarization of that signature, and misrepres......
  • IN RE RICE, No. 24917.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 8, 1999
    ...Matter of Moore, 329 S.C. 294, 494 S.E.2d 804 (1997); Matter of Alexander, 301 S.C. 212, 391 S.E.2d 254 (1990); accord Matter of Celsor, 330 S.C. 497, 499 S.E.2d 809 (1998) (attorney's misconduct in violating various attorney disciplinary rules while handling probate matter and related wron......
  • IN RE BROOME, No. 25748.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 10, 2003
    ...his wife had sold the property and did not tell subsequent buyers that the property carried an outstanding mortgage); Matter of Celsor, 330 S.C. 497, 499 S.E.2d 809 (1998) (attorney falsely notarized client's signature and submitted such falsified documents to the court); Matter of Bruner, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Hodge v. Unihealth Post-Acute Care of Bamberg, LLC, Appellate Case No. 2015-001183
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 7, 2018
    ...the document. Id. at 433 (citation omitted)."[A] power of attorney should be evidenced by an instrument in writing." Matter of Celsor , 330 S.C. 497, 501, 499 S.E.2d 809, 811 (1998)."The relationship of agency need not depend upon express appointment and acceptance thereof. Generally, agenc......
  • Chewning v. Ford Motor Co., No. 3351.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 4, 2001
    ...is consistent with attorney disciplinary opinions finding attorney misrepresentations to be fraud upon the court. See, e.g., In re Celsor, 330 S.C. 497, 501, 499 S.E.2d 809, 811 (1998) (finding improper signature without valid power of attorney, notarization of that signature, and misrepres......
  • IN RE RICE, No. 24917.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 8, 1999
    ...Matter of Moore, 329 S.C. 294, 494 S.E.2d 804 (1997); Matter of Alexander, 301 S.C. 212, 391 S.E.2d 254 (1990); accord Matter of Celsor, 330 S.C. 497, 499 S.E.2d 809 (1998) (attorney's misconduct in violating various attorney disciplinary rules while handling probate matter and related wron......
  • IN RE BROOME, No. 25748.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 10, 2003
    ...his wife had sold the property and did not tell subsequent buyers that the property carried an outstanding mortgage); Matter of Celsor, 330 S.C. 497, 499 S.E.2d 809 (1998) (attorney falsely notarized client's signature and submitted such falsified documents to the court); Matter of Bruner, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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