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24751 - In the Matter of Oliver W. Johnson, III

Davis Adv. Sh. No. 5
S.E. 2d

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court

In the Matter of Oliver

W. Johnson, III,       Respondent.
 

Opinion No. 24751
Submitted December 9, 1997 - Filed January 26, 1998
PUBLIC REPRIMAND
Oliver W. Johnson, III, of Columbia, pro se.
Attorney General Charles Molony Condon and
Senior Assistant Attorney General James G. Bogle,
Jr., both of Columbia, for the Office of The
Disciplinary Counsel.

 
 

                                PER CURIAM: In this attorney disciplinary matter,

respondent and disciplinary counsel have entered into an agreement under

Rule 21, RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR. In the agreement, respondent admits

misconduct and consents to a public reprimand. We accept the agreement

and publicly reprimand respondent.
 
 

Robert A. M. Kennedy Matter
 

                            Andree S. M. Kennedy (mother) retained respondent to

represent her son, Robert A. M. Kennedy (Kennedy). Respondent charged

mother $15,000 to represent Kennedy in a court martial, a military

separation hearing, and a criminal trial in Kershaw County. Kennedy was

convicted on the Kershaw County charge, and mother paid respondent

$3,000 to handle an appeal of the conviction.
 

                Respondent filed the notice of appeal but later convinced

mother that an attorney more experienced in criminal matters should
 

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IN THE MATTER OF JOHNSON
 

handle Kennedy's appeal. Mother followed respondent's advice and signed

an agreement to pay another attorney $10,000 to handle the appeal.

Pursuant to the agreement, respondent would receive $2,500 of the fee,

and the other attorney would receive $7,500. In addition, the contract

provided that respondent was to assist the other attorney in the appeal.

Respondent, however, failed to materially assist with the appeal and failed

to maintain contact with appellate counsel and mother during the appeal.
 

                     Additionally, in his response to the complaint in this matter,

respondent alleged that he spent over 30 hours on Kennedy's appeal and

provided a detailed break-down of how these hours were spent.

Respondent, however, failed to produce time sheets or other documentary

proof of his hours spent on the appeal, and admitted that he merely

estimated the hours provided in his response to the Board of

Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline. Respondent misled the

Board to believe that he actually spent thirty hours on the appeal when in

actuality, his response to the Board was an estimate.
 
 

Gloria Coleman Matter
 

                      In November of 1993, Gloria Coleman (Coleman) retained

respondent to represent her in a divorce action. At the time, Coleman was

living in South Carolina, but her husband, on active military duty, was

stationed at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In February of

1994, Coleman informed respondent that her husband would be retiring

from the military in April 1994, and that she wanted to begin divorce

proceedings prior to his retirement date to preserve any interest she might

have in his retirement funds.
 

                     Respondent failed to initiate action in Coleman's case until

September of 1994, ten months after he was retained. Respondent filed

pleadings which were dismissed without Coleman's knowledge. Later,

without Coleman's knowledge or consent, respondent turned her file over

to a North Carolina attorney to handle the divorce. In this matter,

respondent accepted a case he was not capable of handling, and did not

provide proper attention to Coleman's legal matter. He then improperly

terminated his representation of Coleman without her knowledge or

consent.
 

Shirley Hales Williams and Sheila Harrell Matters
 
 

                  Shirley Hales Williams and Sheila Harrell each have one child

fathered by respondent. The Lexington County Family Court entered two

separate child support orders requiring respondent to make monthly child

support payments to Williams and Harrell. At the time formal charges

were filed in these matters, respondent was in arrears on both child
 

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IN THE MATTER OF JOHNSON
 

support obligations. Respondent has admitted attorney misconduct by

failing to obey the two Family Court Child Support Orders.
 

              By his own admission, respondent has engaged in conduct in

violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 407, SCACR.

Respondent has neglected legal matters entrusted to him and has engaged

in conduct which brings the legal profession into disrepute. His conduct

has been prejudicial to the administration of justice and adversely reflects

on his fitness to practice law. Rules 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.16(d), 8.4(d), and

8.4(e), Rule 407, SCACR. Respondent's conduct warrants a public

reprimand. Accordingly, respondent is hereby publicly reprimanded.
 
 

PUBLIC REPRIMAND.

 
 
 

C.J.
 

A.J.

A.J.

A.J.

A.J.
 

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