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24782 - In the Matter of Rodman C. Tullis

Davis Adv. Sh. No. 16
S.E. 2d


In The Supreme Court

In the Matter of

Rodman C. Tullis, Respondent.

Opinion No. 24782

Submitted March 25, 1998 - Filed April 27, 1998


Rodman C. Tullis, of Spartanburg, pro se.

Disciplinary Counsel Henry B. Richardson, Jr., and

Senior Assistant Attorney General James G. Bogle,

Jr., both of Columbia, for the Office of Disciplinary


PER CURIAM: In this attorney disciplinary matter,

respondent and disciplinary counsel have entered into an agreement under

Rule 21 of the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement contained in

Rule 413, SCACR. In the agreement, respondent admits he has committed

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

Floyd N. Lester was arrested for driving under the influence of

alcohol in Florida in 1991.- Lester pleaded guilty and, under the terms of

a probationary sentence, was ordered to pay a $500 fine and perform 100

hours of community service. Florida authorities later revoked Lester's

probation for failure to comply with the terms of his probation and he was

rearrested in 1993. He was released on a $2,000 bond, which was later



estreated by the state of Florida.

Lester went to work at a video rental store in Spartanburg

owned by Carl and Wanda Austin. The Austins hired respondent to

undertake efforts to resolve the outstanding warrant in Florida so that

Lester could obtain a driver's license. The Austins contend they paid

respondent $1,000 in May 1996 to represent Lester. Respondent admits

he received $1,000 from the Austins, but asserts the money was payment

for a portion of a fee the Austins owed him in an unrelated matter.

Disciplinary counsel states that evidence presented at a panel hearing did

not prove by clear and convincing evidence that respondent received the

$1,000 as payment for representing Lester.

Respondent admits, however, that he received $750 in June

1996 from the Austins in connection with his representation of Lester.

Respondent was supposed to forward that money to pay the fine and other

fees Lester owed the state of Florida. Instead, respondent cashed the

check and did not use the funds to pay Lester's fine and fees. Respondent

never contacted the Clerk of Court's office in Volusia County, Florida,

although he did write a letter and make two telephone calls to a Florida

prosecuting attorney on Lester's behalf.

Respondent also contacted the Salvation Army in Daytona

Beach, Florida, about Lester's case. The Salvation Army provides

correctional services for community service and probation. Respondent

agreed to send the Salvation Army $240 in probation supervision fees,

$500 for the fine, and proof that Lester had performed 100 hours of

community service. Respondent never sent the money or the

documentation. The Florida probation violation warrant issued against

Lester remains outstanding.

Respondent did not reply to the first letter from the

Commission on Lawyer Conduct regarding the Lester matter. Respondent

did reply to the second letter from the commission. Respondent failed to

reply to numerous telephone messages, a letter, and a faxed note from the

attorney assigned to investigate the matter.

Respondent admits he has committed misconduct in this

matter. Respondent failed to competently represent Lester, failed to

timely provide information about the case to Lester or the Austins, and

failed to promptly deliver funds paid on Lester's behalf to the state of



Florida. Respondent engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration

of justice.

We conclude respondent, by his actions, violated Rules 1.1,

1.4(a), 1.15(b), 8.4(a) and 8.4(e) of the Rules of Professional Conduct

contained in Rule 407, SCACR, and Rules 7(a)(1) and 7(a)(5) of the Rules

for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement contained in Rule 413, SCACR.

Furthermore, respondent failed to reply promptly to commission inquiries

into the Lester matter. Such a failure to respond is itself misconduct. In

re Treacy, 277 S.C. 514, 290 S.E.2d 240 (1982). We find that respondent's

conduct warrants a public reprimand.