THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
In the Matter of Kenneth W. Thornton, Respondent.
Opinion No. 24674
Heard July 9, 1997 - Filed August 11, 1997
Attorney General Charles Molony Condon and Assistant Deputy
Attorney General J. Emory Smith, Jr., both of Columbia, for
Kenneth W. Thornton, pro se.
PER CURIAM: This is an attorney disciplinary matter. Respondent
Kenneth W. Thornton is in default. Respondent has previously been suspended for six
months for filing a false tax return1 and was recently suspended for failing to comply with
continuing legal education requirements.
In November 1996, respondent was served with a Notice and Complaint. In
January 1997, respondent was also served with a Notice and Supplemental Complaint.
Respondent did not file an answer to either complaint. On February 20, 1997, the Board
notified respondent that he was in default but that he could still be heard in mitigation.
Respondent did not respond. The Interim Review Committee concluded that a hearing
was unnecessary and voted by 6 to 1 that respondent be indefinitely suspended. One
member voted to disbar respondent.
Under the Rules on Disciplinary Procedure, respondent is in default and is
deemed to have admitted all allegations in the two complaints served upon him. Rule 413,
SCACR. See In re Fennell, _ S.C. _, 477 S.E.2d 706 (1996). The complaints allege
respondent violated Rules 8.4 and 413, § 5 (E). In re Davis, 279 S.C. 532, 309 S.E.2d __________________________
1In re Thornton, 314 S.C. 301, 443 S.E.2d 905 (1994).
IN THE MATTER OF THORNTON
5 (1983), the Court held "[w]here an attorney is in default because of his failure to
respond to a Complaint in a disciplinary proceeding, the facts and charges set forth in the
Complaint are deemed admitted, and the only duty of the Panel is to make a
recommendation of the appropriate sanction." (emphasis added).2 Accordingly, the
charges of misconduct against respondent are deemed admitted and we must determine
only the appropriate sanction.
It is ordered that Respondent be indefinitely suspended from the practice of
law in this State. Respondent shall file an affidavit with the Clerk of Court within fifteen
days of the date of the filing of this opinion, in compliance with Paragraph 30 of Rule
INDEFINITE SUSPENSION. __________________________
2The complaints also allege respondent was found in contempt by the family court judge
for failing to pay child support and alimony as ordered, transferring property in violation of
an order, and falsely testifying. Since respondent is in default and the misconduct charges
in the complaint are deemed admitted, we need not address whether an attorney can be
disciplined solely on the ground of a civil contempt finding for failure to pay child support.
See In re Mixson, 258 S.C. 408, 189 S.E.2d 12 (1972).