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24679 - In the Matter of John Evander White

Davis Adv. Sh. No. 25
S.E. 2d

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

In The Supreme Court

In the Matter of John

Evander White, Respondent.

Opinion No. 24679

Heard July 8, 1997 - Filed August 18, 1997

DEFINITE SUSPENSION

Attorney General Charles M. Condon and Senior Assistant Attorney

General James G. Bogle, Jr., both of Columbia, for complainant.

Clifford O. Koon, Jr., of Rogers Townsend & Thomas, PC, of

Columbia, for respondent.

PER CURIAM: Respondent was charged with misconduct in this

attorney grievance matter because he removed a mortgage from the Lexington

County R.M.C. Office without permission. In addition to this act, respondent

admitted at the Panel Hearing1 that after removing the mortgage, he altered its

property description without notice to or the permission of the mortgagor or

mortgagee, and then filed the altered mortgage in Richland County. At the

hearing before this Court, respondent asked that we consider his misconduct in

altering the mortgage along with his misconduct in removing it. We have done

so, and now impose upon respondent a 60 day suspension from the practice of

law.

The facts are essentially undisputed. A mortgage company prepared

and executed a mortgage, and delivered the mortgage to respondent for filing in

Richland County. In some parts, the mortgage described the property as being

in Richland County, and at other points as being in Lexington County.

Respondent filed the mortgage in Richland County. The Richland County

R.M.C. Office noted the discrepancies in the property description, and notified

respondent's office that the mortgage should be filed in Lexington County.

Respondent picked up the mortgage and delivered it to the Lexington County


1This case is governed by the Rule on Disciplinary Procedure, Rule 413,

SCACR (repealed effective January 1, 1997).

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IN THE MATTER OF WHITE

R.M.C. Office on December 30, 1993.

On January 4, 1994, the mortgage company contacted respondent

and demanded the mortgage be refiled in Richland County. Respondent went to

the Lexington County R.M.C. Office to retrieve the mortgage, but was informed

that Lexington's policy was to retain all documents filed with the R.M.C. Office,

even if it were discovered that the property lay in a different county.2 The

R.M.C. employees therefore refused to allow respondent to remove the mortgage.

Despite their refusal, respondent took the mortgage and returned to his office.3

There, he noticed the erroneous property description in the mortgage, and took it

upon himself to mark through that description, write on the mortgage "See

Exhibit A," and attach to the mortgage a separate page marked Exhibit A,

which included a description of a completely different property than that

described in the mortgage. Respondent then filed the altered mortgage in

Richland County.

The removal of the mortgage was discovered when the Lexington

County R.M.C. Office was preparing documents for microfilming and discovered

the mortgage was missing. The employees contacted respondent, who readily

admitted taking the mortgage.

As we noted above, the complaint charged respondent with

misconduct based on his removal of the mortgage. Considering only this act, the

Panel recommended a private reprimand; the Interim Review Conunittee adopted

the Panel's findings of fact and conclusions of law, but 4-1 recommended

respondent receive a public reprimand. The dissenting Committee member

recommended a private reprimand be imposed. With respondent's consent, we

also consider at this time his misconduct in altering the property description in

the mortgage. Compare In the Matter of Rothwell, 278 S.C. 391, 296 S.E.2d 870

(1983) (public reprimand imposed for surreptitiously altering a deed).

We find respondent has violated Rule 8.4(c), of Rule 407, SCACR,

by engaging in conduct involving moral turpitude; Rule 8.4(d), of Rule 407,

SCACR, by engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or

misrepresentation; Paragraph 5(D) of Rule 413, SCACR, by engaging in conduct

tending to bring the legal profession into disrepute; and Paragraph 5(E) of Rule

413, SCACR, by engaging in conduct demonstrating a lack of professional

competence. We therefore order respondent suspended from the practice of law

for 60 days. He shall, within fifteen (15) days of the filing of this opinion, file


2 It is undisputed that R.M.C. Office policies concerning misfiled documents

vary greatly from county to county.

3 Respondent was unaware of S.C. Code Ann. § 30-5-100(1976) which

establishes a procedure to transfer misrecorded documents.

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IN THE MATTER OF WHITE

an affidavit with the Clerk of this Court stating he has complied with

Paragraph 30 of Rule 413, SCACR.

DEFINITE SUSPENSION.

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