In the Matter of Oliver
W. Johnson, III, Respondent.
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
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
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
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.