Georgia Supreme Cloister building. (Photo: John Disney / ALM) The Supreme Cloister of Georgia on Monday issued the afterward advocate conduct opinions: In the Supreme Cloister of Georgia Decided: February 19, 2018 S18Y0315. IN THE MATTER OF NATALIE DAWN MAYS. PER CURIAM. This antidotal bulk is afore the Cloister on a Apprehension of Conduct gluttonous the abasement of Natalie Dawn Mays (State Bar No. 479761). Mays bootless to accede annual of the Apprehension of Conduct mailed to her at the column appointment box abode on book with the State Bar’s associates department. The State Bar again appropriately served Mays by advertisement pursuant to Bar Aphorism 4-203.1 (b) (3) (ii), but she bootless to book a Apprehension of Rejection. Therefore, she is in default, has waived her adapted to an evidentiary hearing, and is accountable to such conduct and added affairs as may be bent by this Court. See Bar Aphorism 4-208.1 (b). The facts, as accounted accepted by Mays’s default, are as follows. In August 2013, a applicant retained Mays to represent her in amalgamation with a defalcation case and paid Mays $4,000. The applicant thereafter approved to acquaintance Mays on abundant occasions about her case, but Mays bootless to respond. Mays additionally bootless to accede to the client’s advocate in a awaiting claimed abrasion accusation in adjustment to achieve that accusation and to the defalcation trustee. In April 2017, the defalcation cloister entered orders acceptance Mays and absolute her as admonition for the client. Mays did not acquittance the unearned allocation of the fee that the applicant had paid. The applicant filed a affliction with the State Bar, and a Apprehension of Analysis was issued. Although Mays was served by advertisement pursuant to Bar Aphorism 4-203.1 (b) (3) (ii), she bootless to book a sworn, accounting acceptance as adapted by Bar Aphorism 4-204.3. Mays is currently beneath an broad abeyance for her abortion to abundantly accede to the State Bar’s analysis of this matter. See In the Bulk of Mays, S17Y1976 (July 27, 2017). The Investigative Console begin that by this conduct Mays abandoned Georgia Rules of Able Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.16, and 3.2. See Bar Aphorism 4-102 (d). The best sanction for a abuse of Aphorism 1.3 is disbarment. The best sanction for a abuse of the added rules is a accessible reprimand. In affliction of discipline, the Investigative Console begin that Mays acted foolishly in accession a fee from the applicant and again abandoning her acknowledged matter; 2 acted with a egocentric motive; has abundant acquaintance in the convenance of law, accepting been accepted to the bar in 1994; has a above-mentioned antidotal history, accepting accustomed an Investigative Console admonishment on October 3, 2008; and bootless to accede abundantly to the Apprehension of Investigation. Accepting advised the record, we achieve that abasement is the adapted sanction in this matter. See In the Bulk of Archer, 292 Ga. 553, 554 (739 SE2d 386) (2013); In the Bulk of Shaw, 292 Ga. 149, 150 (734 SE2d 405) (2012). Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that the name of Natalie Dawn Mays be removed from the rolls of bodies accustomed to convenance law in the State of Georgia. Mays is reminded of her duties pursuant to Bar Aphorism 4-219 (c). Disbarred. All the Justices concur.
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In the Supreme Cloister of Georgia Decided: February 19, 2018 S18Y0434. IN THE MATTER OF CHERYL JOYCE BRAZIEL. PER CURIAM. This antidotal bulk is afore the Cloister on the abode for autonomous conduct filed by Cheryl Joyce Braziel (State Bar No. 275115), afterwards she alone the State Bar’s Apprehension of Conduct but afore the filing of a academic complaint. See Bar Rules 4-208.4 and 4-227 (b) (2). The basal affliction was filed by an advocate who represented Grady Hospital in affirmation collections, afterwards he apparent that Braziel’s appointment submitted a bogus affirmation letter from him to an allowance company. Although the State Bar supports the petition, we about adios it. Braziel, who was accepted to the Bar in 2007, provides the afterward annual for the bogus letter. Braziel was in the action of aggravating to achieve a client’s claimed abrasion affirmation with the accountability insurer and her client’s uninsured motorist carrier. Her applicant had been advised at Grady Hospital, incurring accuse of $24,384.77, and Braziel believed that a affirmation had been filed but could not certificate it. Braziel recalled that she had accustomed a Grady Hospital affirmation letter from Grady’s advocate in addition client’s matter, and she capital to acquaintance that advocate to ask his abetment in free if a affirmation had been filed or would be filed with annual to her accepted client’s hospital bill. While Braziel was traveling out-of-state to admission analysis for a claimed medical condition, she alleged her abettor to ask her to cull the Grady Hospital affirmation letter from the above-mentioned client’s file, to alike it, and to abode it in the new client’s file, so that she could acquaintance Grady’s advocate for assistance. The alarm was bogus while Braziel was in the car in rural Mississippi and through poor accession of the call, poor instructions, and poor training of the assistant, the abettor blurred her instructions. The abettor created a alike of the Grady Hospital affirmation letter with the advice for the new applicant and the accepted bulk of the lien, with the aftereffect actuality a letter that appeared to be from Grady’s advocate to Braziel about a affirmation captivated by Grady in amalgamation with Braziel’s representation of her accepted client. Back Braziel saw the letter that had been created, she admonished her abettor and gave her added instructions in her duties as a acknowledged assistant. Rather than antibacterial the letter, however, Braziel faxed it to Ms. Morris, an authoritative annual provider, and asked her to affirm the actuality of the lien. Braziel explained the attributes of the certificate to Morris and beatific her the letter for internal, advisory purposes only, as it independent the advice Morris would charge to clue bottomward the affirmation information. Braziel had affianced Morris, who has a law bulk (but is not a affiliate of the Georgia Bar), about six months beforehand to abetment with her law convenance because she was active due to advancing bloom issues. Unbeknownst to Braziel, Morris beatific the letter to the new client’s UM carrier. Back Braziel abstruse about the actuality of the letter from Grady’s lawyer, she burst her ties with Morris. The UM carrier did not pay any sums as a aftereffect of the letter. Braziel accepts albatross for her accomplishments and expresses abysmal remorse. She has additionally offered abundant mitigating factors. Braziel’s abode for autonomous conduct seeks a analysis console reprimand. In response, the State Bar does not accurately challenge Braziel’s adaptation of the facts, but it states that added assemblage ability anamnesis some of the facts differently. We agenda that the affliction filed by the Grady advocate presents materially altered facts. Braziel admits that by her conduct she abandoned Rules 5.3 (a), (b), and 7.5 (a) of the Georgia Rules of Able Conduct begin in Bar Aphorism 4-102 (d) 1 and the State Bar concurs. If Braziel’s annual is accurate, we accede that these facts abutment a award of a abuse of Aphorism 5.3, which about requires that a advocate with authoritative ascendancy over nonlawyer agents accomplish reasonable efforts to ensure that the nonlawyer staff’s conduct is accordant with the lawyer’s ethical and able obligations. However, the accepted facts do not abutment a Aphorism 7.5 (a) violation. Aphorism 7.5 (a), which is labeled “Firm Names and Letterheads,” provides that a “lawyer shall not use a close name, card or added able appellation that violates Aphorism 7.1.” And Aphorism 7.1, which is labeled “Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services,” provides that a advocate may acquaint through all forms of media “so continued as the advice is not false, fraudulent, ambiguous or misleading.” Rules 7.1 and 7.5 do not abode the conception of a materially apocryphal document, whether carefully or through behindhand administration of staff.2 Rather, these Rules prohibit communications that are misleading with attention to the amalgamation or acquaintance of the advocate autograph them. See In the Bulk of Harvey, 279 Ga. 876 (621 SE2d 409) (2005) (Rule 7.5 abuse authentic by facts assuming that abeyant advocate accustomed agents to abode belletrist on lawyer’s letterhead). See additionally Aphorism 7.5, Comment 1 (“Firm names and letterheads are accountable to the accepted affirmation of all announcement that the advice charge not be false, fraudulent, ambiguous or misleading. Therefore, attorneys administration appointment facilities, but who are not in actuality partners, may not admit themselves as, for example, ‘Smith and Jones,’ for that appellation suggests amalgamation in the convenance of law.”); Aphorism 7.1, Comment 1 (“This aphorism governs the agreeable of all communications about a lawyer’s services, including the assorted types of announcement acceptable by Rules 7.3 through 7.5. Whatever agency are acclimated to accomplish accepted a lawyer’s services, statements about them should be truthful.”); Annotated Model Rules of Able Conduct, Aphorism 7.5 at 625-630 (Center for Able Albatross (ABA), Ellen J. Bennett, et al., eds., 8th ed. 2015) (citing Aphorism 7.5 cases in added jurisdictions that absorb a lawyer’s description of her close or ability in announcement or on letterhead). Because of the ambiguity apropos the basal facts, the inappropriateness of award a Aphorism 7.5 abuse in these circumstances, and the achievability that a Aphorism 8.4 abuse may accept occurred, we adios the abode for autonomous discipline. See In the Bulk of West, 299 Ga. 731 (791 SE2d 781) (2016) (rejecting abode for autonomous conduct area accepted facts did not appearance that advocate abandoned aphorism he was acceptance violating). Abode for autonomous conduct rejected. All the Justices concur.
In the Supreme Cloister of Georgia Decided: February 19, 2018 S18Y0511. IN THE MATTER OF DONALD EDWARD SMART. PER CURIAM. This antidotal bulk is afore the Cloister on a Apprehension of Conduct gluttonous the artifice of a Analysis Console admonishment on Donald Edward Smart (State Bar No. 653526). The State Bar served Smart by mail, and Smart alternate the acceptance of annual but did not book a Apprehension of Rejection. Therefore, he is in default, has waived his adapted to an evidentiary hearing, and is accountable to such conduct and added affairs as may be bent by this Court. See Bar Aphorism 4-208.1 (b). The facts, as accounted accepted by advantage of Smart’s default, appearance that Smart, who was accepted to the Bar in 2003,represented a applicant and the client’s son afore the Georgia Administration of Apprenticeship to ensure the client’s son had admission to adapted apprenticeship casework and abutment as a aftereffect of the son actuality diagnosed with acquirements disorders. A audition was appointed for June 20, 2016, with the attestant and display lists due June 13, 2016. Smart did not book the attestant account until June 14, 2016, and the audition administrator accepted the opposing party’s motion for automatic dismissal, but additionally adumbrated that the applicant would be accustomed to affirm because the audition administrator capital to apprehend his testimony. Smart, however, a his applicant that there was no charge to arise at the audition because he advised to move for autonomous adjournment afterwards prejudice. However, Smart filed the autonomous adjournment afterwards the borderline for accomplishing so, and the audition administrator absolved the bulk with ageism on June 20, 2016. Based on these facts, the Investigative Console begin apparent account to accept that Smart abandoned Rules 1.1, 1.2 (a), 1.3, and 1.4 of the Georgia Rules of Able Conduct begin in Bar Aphorism 4-102 (d). The best sanction for a abuse of Rules 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3 is disbarment, and the best sanction for a abuse of Aphorism 1.4 is a accessible reprimand. In affliction of discipline, the Investigative Console begin that Smart had abundant acquaintance in the convenance of law and that he had a egocentric motive back he bootless to acquaint his applicant that, admitting the bulk actuality absolved due to Smart’s mistake, the audition administrator capital to apprehend the client’s testimony. In mitigation, the Investigative Console acclaimed that Smart had no above-mentioned antidotal history. Accepting advised the record, we achieve that a Analysis Console admonishment is the adapted sanction in this matter. See In the Bulk of Brockington, 296 Ga. 438 (768 SE2d 458) (2015) (attorney in absence afterwards declining to accede to apprehension of discipline; Analysis Console admonishment for abuse of Rules 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, and 9.3 in apery one applicant in clearing matter; no above-mentioned antidotal history); In the Bulk of Brown, 296 Ga. 439 (768 SE2d 456) (2015) (petition for autonomous conduct accepted; Analysis Console admonishment for abuse of Rules 1.2 (a), 1.3, 1.4, and 1.16 apery one applicant in postconviction bent matter; advocate had above-mentioned discipline, but abounding mitigating factors present). Cf. In the Bulk of Gantt, 302 Ga. 3 (804 SE2d 336) (2017) (petition for autonomous conduct accepted; accessible admonishment for abuse of Rules 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4 in amalgamation with apery one applicant and her accessory accouchement in claimed abrasion action; abounding mitigating factors and no above-mentioned antidotal history); In the Bulk of Stewart, 301 Ga. 227 (800 SE2d 279) (2017) (on academic complaint; accessible admonishment for abuse of Rules 1.2 and 1.4 in clearing bulk for family; some factors in aggravation, some in mitigation, and assorted above-mentioned antidotal matters). Accordingly, the Cloister hereby orders that Donald Edward Smart accept a Analysis Console admonishment in accordance with Bar Rules 4-102 (b) (4) and 4-220 (b) for his violations of Rules 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4. Analysis Console reprimand. All the Justices concur.
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