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24769 - In the Matter of T. Aladdin Mozingo

Davis Adv. Sh. No. 8
S.E. 2d


THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

In The Supreme Court

    In the Matter of T.

    Aladdin Mozingo,          Respondent.

Opinion No. 24769

Submitted January 27, 1998 - Filed February 23, 1998

DISBARRED

Desa Ballard, of Columbia, for respondent.
Henry B. Richardson, Jr., of Columbia,
Disciplinary Counsel.

         PER CURIAM: In this attorney discipline 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 be disbarred from the practice of law. We

accept the agreement.

FACTS

Robert R. Forbes, Jr. Matter

         Respondent represented Robert R. Forbes, Jr. in an ongoing

domestic action. As part of that action, Forbes was ordered to make child

support and alimony payments. Forbes' current wife and her father

wanted Forbes to file suit to reduce or eliminate these payments.

         To help Forbes appease his family, respondent signed a letter,

which he asserts he did not read, addressed to Forbes' former employer.

This letter indicated that respondent had filed a motion in family court

about the alimony and child support payments, that an order terminating

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IN THE MATTER OF MOZINGO

these payments was being signed, and that the letter was to serve as a

waiver of the garnishment of Forbes' wages. Respondent admits that

these statements contained in the letter were false.

         In addition, respondent signed a letter that was faxed to

Forbes' father-in-law. Again, respondent asserts he did not read this

letter that indicated Forbes had complied with all his alimony and child

support obligations and a signed order to that effect was forthcoming.

Respondent also admits that these statements contained in the letter were

false.

         On September 7, 1997, respondent and his paralegal Amanda

Stavely prepared what purported to be the Family Court order referred to

in the letters. Respondent traced the signature of a member of this Court,

Justice Jean Hoefer Toal, from a copy of the Advance Sheets onto the

signature block of the order.

         After the forgery was discovered, respondent and his mother

met with Justice Toal and members of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

At that meeting, respondent stated that Stavely prepared the order and

that she traced Justice Toal's signature onto the signature block of the

order. Respondent now admits this was a false statement, made at the

urging of his mother and Stavely.

Richard H. Gregrory Matter

         Richard H. Gregory retained respondent in January 1997 to

file suit against Wal-Mart and the Police Department in Savannah,

Georgia. Respondent admits after he was temporarily suspended from the

practice of law, he failed to deliver Gregory's file to the attorney appointed

by this Court to protect his clients' interests.1

Ronnie Clark and Terry Clark Matter

         Respondent admits he furnished a rental car and/or the monies

for a rental car to Ronnie Clark and Terry Clark while he was

representing them on a contingent fee basis.

Bryan Cox Matter


        1In the Matter of T. Aladdin Mozinizo, __ S.C.__, 492 S.E.2d 75 (1997).

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IN THE MATTER OF MOZINGO

         Cox was ticketed for three traffic offenses and retained

respondent to handle the matter. Cox deposited funds with respondent for

payment of these tickets and was assured that the tickets would be paid.

They were not, and one of Cox's charges ultimately went before the

general sessions court for disposition. Cox was properly notified of roll

call; however, he failed to appear for court and was arrested and

incarcerated for five days. Respondent admits he failed to adequately

supervise his staff's transmission of payment of Cox's fines for these traffic

offenses.

Neglect of Legal Matters

         Finally, respondent admits that by the requisite standard of

care, he neglected certain legal matters entrusted to him by his clients. In

these matters, respondent also admits that he did not communicate

sufficiently the status of these matters to his clients, causing some clients

to believe actions had been filed when they had not.

CONCLUSION

         Respondent's conduct in the Forbes matter violated several of

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

assisted a client in conduct that he knew was criminal and fraudulent.

Rule 1.2(d). Respondent knowingly made false statements of material

facts to a tribunal. Rule 3.3. In addition, he made false statements of

material facts to third parties and failed to disclose material facts to avoid

assisting a fraudulent act by a client. Rule 4.1. Respondent used means

that had no purpose but to embarrass, delay, or burden third parties.

Rule 4.4. In addition, he failed to make certain that nonlawyer assistants

in his office complied with his professional obligations. Rule 5.3.

Furthermore, respondent violated the Rules of Professional Conduct,

committed a criminal act which reflects on his honesty, and engaged in

conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation, Rule

8.4 (a), (b), and (d). Previous opinions of this Court have recognized the

seriousness of a lawyer forging the signature of a judicial officer. See In

the Matter of Walker, 305 S.C. 482, 409 S.E.2d 412 (1991) (attorney who

forged circuit court judge's name to expungement order was indefinitely

suspended); State ex rel McLeod v. Belcher, 249 S.C. 301, 153 S.E.2d 921

(1967) (attorney disbarred after forging the signature of a special referee

and a circuit court judge to reports and decrees in a divorce case); Cate v.

Rivers, 246 S.C. 35, 142 S.E.2d 869 (1965) (attorney who forged judge's

signature to adoption decrees was disbarred).

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IN THE MATTER OF MOZINGO

         Respondent's conduct in the other matters also violated the

Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 407, SCACR. He failed to act with

reasonable diligence and promptness in representing clients and failed to

keep clients reasonably informed about the status of their matters. Rules

1.3 and 1.4. Furthermore, respondent provided unauthorized financial

assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplated

litigation. Rule 1.8(e). Respondent failed to make reasonable efforts to

expedite litigation when he incorrectly allowed clients to believe actions

had been filed in their cases. Rule 3.2. By failing to turn over one of his

files after he was suspended, respondent knowingly disobeyed an obligation

under the rules of a tribunal. Rule 3.4(c). Finally, respondent failed to

make certain that nonlawyer assistants in his office complied with his

professional obligations. Rule 5.3.

         Accordingly, we disbar respondent from the practice of law.

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 Rule

30, RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR.

DISBARRED.

C.J.

A.J.

A.J.

A.J.

Toal, A.J., not participating

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