THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
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
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.