Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Site Map | Feedback
24752 - In the Matter of Henry H. Cabaniss

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


In The Supreme Court

       In the Matter of Henry

       H. Cabaniss,       Respondent.

Opinion No. 24752

Submitted December 2, 1997 - Filed January 26, 1998


Coming B. Gibbs, Jr., of Charleston, for respondent.
Henry B. Richardson, Jr., of Columbia, Disciplinary

      PER CURIAM: In this attorney disciplinary matter,

respondent admits he has committed misconduct and consents to a definite

suspension for two years. We accept respondent's admissions and suspend

him from the practice of law for two years.

Law Firm Accounts

      Respondent, a solo practitioner, failed to maintain the integrity

of his law firm trust and operating accounts. He failed to maintain

accurate and complete information about financial transactions involving

his clients. He improperly used his law office's operating account as a

personal checking account. From March to December of 1996, the office's

operating account had 113 checks returned for insufficient funds, 64

overdraft fees, and 107 negative balances.

p. 6


The Raley Matter

      Respondent handled a real estate closing for a client named

Raley. Funds were electronically transferred to respondent's trust account

in connection with the closing. Respondent wrote checks from his trust

account totaling $955 in connection with the closing during September and

October 1996. Those checks were returned for insufficient funds.

Respondent failed to pay an additional $2,752 in closing fees and other

escrowed amounts. Funds to make the necessary payments were not in

respondent's trust account at the time they were due because respondent

used the money for purposes unrelated to the Raley closing. A title

insurance company covered the losses. Respondent has reimbursed the

company for $955, but has not repaid the $2,752.

The Armstrong Matter

      Lea Armstrong gave respondent $500 in August 1996 as

payment for him to handle a real estate closing. Respondent failed to

handle the transaction and did not return the money until December 1996.


      Respondent admits he has committed misconduct in these

matters. Respondent failed to maintain records of his office's operating

and trust accounts. He commingled funds between his personal account,

office operating account, and trust account. Respondent used funds from

his trust account for purposes unrelated to a real estate closing for which

the funds were designated. He failed to perform a real estate closing after

accepting a fee, and did not promptly return the fee.

      We conclude respondent engaged in conduct that reflects

adversely upon his honesty, trustworthiness, and fitness as a lawyer. He

engaged in conduct involving moral turpitude. He engaged in conduct

tending to pollute the administration of justice or to bring the courts and

legal profession into disrepute. By his actions, respondent violated Rules

1.15 and 8.4(a), (c) and (e) of the Rules of Professional Conduct contained

in Rule 407, SCACR, and Paragraph 5(D) of former Rule 413, SCACR.1

      We find that respondent's conduct warrants a definite

1 This provision is now found in Rule 7(a)(5) of the Rules for

Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement contained in Rule 413, SCACR.

p. 7


suspension of two years from the practice of law. The suspension shall be

retroactive to February 7, 1997, the date the Court placed respondent on

interim suspension from the practice of law. Within fifteen (15) days of

the date of this opinion, respondent shall file an affidavit with the Clerk of

Court showing he has complied with Rule 30 of Rule 413, SCACR. In

addition to all other requirements respondent must meet to be reinstated

under Rule 413, SCACR, no petition for reinstatement shall be accepted

until respondent has filed proof he has made full restitution to all

institutions and individuals who have lost money as a result of his

fraudulent acts or mishandling of trust funds, to include restitution to the

Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection for any payment it may make.







p. 8