Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
Site Map | Feedback
24753 - In the Matter of Eben H. Cockley

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


THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

In The Supreme Court

      In the Matter of Eben

      H. Cockley,    Respondent,

Opinion No. 24753

Heard December 2, 1997 - Filed January 26, 1998

DEFINITE SUSPENSION

Attorney General Charles Molony Condon, and Senior
Assistant Attorney General James G. Bogle, Jr., both of
Columbia, for complainant.
David J. Gundling, of Pawleys Island, for respondent.

       PER CURIAM: This is an attorney disciplinary matter.

The Panel recommended respondent be definitely suspended for one year

retroactive to April 2, 1996, the date he pled guilty and was sentenced.

By a vote of 6 to 0, the Interim Review Committee adopted the Panel's

conclusions of law and recommendations but the Committee recommended

respondent be suspended retroactive to May 2, 1996, when we temporarily

suspended respondent pursuant to ¶ 6 of Rule 413, SCACR.

       Respondent was arrested on May 30, 1994, for felony driving

under the influence (DUI) causing great bodily injury. Respondent was

driving southward in the northbound lane when he collided with a

motorcycle injuring the riders. One rider, Maurice Lewis, was seriously

injured.1 Respondent's blood alcohol level was .23. He pled guilty to felony

DUI and was sentenced to five years. Respondent was released from

prison on April 9, 1997.


       1 Lewis has made a partial recovery from the accident. He has some

residual problems, such as a loss of smell and taste, behavioral changes

(i.e. emotional outbursts), and a knee injury.

p. 9


IN THE MATTER OF COCKLEY

       We have not sanctioned an attorney solely upon the basis of a

conviction for felony DUI. Other jurisdictions that have considered the

question of the appropriate sanction when an attorney drives under the

influence and causes serious injury or death have found some period of

suspension or even disbarment warranted. See Danny R. Veilleux,

Annotation, Misconduct Involving Intoxication as Ground for Disciplinary

Action Against Attorney, 1 A.L.R.5th 874 §§ 6-9 (1992 & Supp. 1995).

       A fixed period of suspension is commonly imposed for a felony

DUI conviction. See e.g. Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Rankin, 862 S.W.2d 894

(Ky. 1993)(six-month suspension and two year probationary period for

felony DWI); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Jones, 759 S.W.2d 61 (Ky. 1988)(court

imposed two year suspension on attorney convicted of felony DUI and

reckless homicide); In re Morris, 74 N.M. 679, 397 P.2d 475

(1964)(indefinite suspension for involuntary manslaughter resulting from

DUI); Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Michaels, 38 Ohio St.3d 248, 257

N.E.2d 299 (1988)(court imposed eighteen-month suspension when attorney

pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter, DWI, and reckless driving); In re

Curran, 115 Wash.2d 747, 801 P.2d 962 (1990)(court imposed six-month

suspension when attorney convicted of vehicular manslaughter).

       We find respondent has violated § 5(C) of Rule 413, SCACR, by

committing a serious crime and his misconduct warrants an eighteen-

month suspension. Therefore, respondent is hereby suspended from the

practice of law in this State for a period of eighteen months retroactively

to the date of his temporary suspension, May 2, 1996. Within fifteen days

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

of Court showing that he has complied with Paragraph 30 of Rule 413,

SCACR.

DEFINITE SUSPENSION.

C.J.

A.J.

A.J.

A.J.

A.J.

p. 10