THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
In the matter of Synthia R. Glover, Respondent.
Opinion No. 24872
Heard October 20, 1998 - Filed December 29, 1998
Attorney General Charles M. Condon, Assistant
Deputy Attorney General J. Emory Smith, Jr., both
of Columbia, for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
Coming B. Gibbs, Jr., of Charleston, for respondent.
PER CURIAM: This is an attorney disciplinary matter.
Respondent misappropriated client funds for personal use, co-mingled
personal funds with client funds, was involved in a check kiting scheme
between her trust account and general operating account, and failed to pay
medical providers on behalf of her clients. Respondent admitted the charges.
The Sub-Panel took into consideration respondent's previously clean
disciplinary record, her remorse, and the personal problems which
respondent was experiencing during this time period. Respondent's
mother suffers from Alzheimer's disease and respondent has been her
primary caregiver.1 This created an emotional, physical, and financial
hardship on respondent which left her severely depressed.2 The Sub-Panel
Charleston to Beaufort several times a week but later her mother moved
in with her and respondent was and still is her primary caregiver.
2 Her doctor, Dr. E. Michael Limkin, testified that on a scale of 1 to
10 with a 6 being someone who would require hospitalization, he ranked
determined respondent should be allowed to rehabilitate herself. The Sub-
Panel concluded the appropriate sanction was an indefinite suspension 3
and that prior to readmission to the bar, respondent provide restitution to
all injured parties, be re-examined by the Committee on Character and
Fitness, and obtain certification that she is free or not controlled by
depression which has affected her judgment in the past. The full Panel
agreed with the Sub-Panel's report and recommendations. No exceptions
were filed concerning the findings or recommendations.
Respondent was involved in three check kiting schemes. Respondent
also wrote checks on her general trust account for personal expenses.
During this time, respondent used her trust and operating accounts as
her personal account. In the end, however, the banks did not lose any
money as a result of respondent's actions.
Respondent also committed misconduct in regards to several clients.
Respondent represented Thomas Brown and his daughter for injuries
received in an automobile accident. The claims were settled with State
Farm for $5,078.80. Respondent deposited them into her trust account
and converted the funds to other uses. Mr. Brown received a check from
respondent for only $811.00. The Panel concluded that respondent owes
Mr. Brown $4,267.00.
Respondent represented Fannie Mae Pearson in a home repair
dispute from which $1,835.00 was collected on behalf of Mrs. Pearson.
Mrs. Pearson did not receive the funds. The Panel concluded respondent owes
Mrs. Pearson $1,835.00.
Respondent represented Kevin and Connie Nelson in a personal
injury action. A settlement was reached for $4,500.00. Respondent paid
herself $325.00 and paid a medical bill on behalf of the Nelson for
$1,000.00. The remaining money was never sent to the Nelsons. The
Panel concluded that respondent owes the Nelsons $3,175.00.
Respondent also misappropriated client funds which should have
been used to pay medical bills on behalf of clients. The total amount of
3Respondent was placed on interim suspension on July 30, 1997.
medical provider funds received and withheld from clients was $40,899.45.
Medical providers have received only $6,562.00. Thus, respondent has not
paid $34,337.95 to medical providers.4
Respondent has violated: Rule 1.15, Rule 407, SCACR, by
misappropriating client funds and failing to deliver funds to clients and
medical providers and failing to deliver a full accounting; Rule 8.4(b) by
committing acts that reflect adversely upon her honesty, trustworthiness, and
fitness as a lawyer; Rule 8.4(c) by engaging in conduct involving moral
turpitude; Rule 8.4(d) by engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud,
deceit, and misrepresentation; and Rule 8.4(e) by engaging in conduct
prejudicial to the administration of justice. Respondent also violated Rule
413, SCACR, Rule 7(a)(5) by engaging in conduct tending to pollute the
administration of justice; and Rule 7(a)(6) by violating the oath of her office.
"While this court may draw its own conclusions and make its own
findings, Burns v. Clayton, 237 S.C. 316, 117 S.E.2d 300 (1960), the
unanimous findings and conclusions of both the Panel and Executive
Committee are entitled to much respect and consideration." In re Pride, 276
S.C. 363, 366, 278 S.E.2d 774 (1981). In mitigation, we consider, as the Panel
did, that respondent has admitted all the allegations against her and has
expressed great remorse. Respondent has also presented a significant
amount of other evidence in mitigation. Respondent developed severe
depression during the time the above instances of misconduct occurred. In
the past, we have allowed evidence of depression to mitigate misconduct. See
In re Weinberg, 317 S.C. 300, 454 S.E.2d 316 (1995). In further mitigation,
during this time respondent became the sole caretaker and provided financial
support for her mother who had developed Alzheimer's disease. See In re
Holler, 329 S.C. 395, 496 S.E.2d 627 (1998)(fact the respondent was sole
caretaker for mother was considered in mitigation).
Accordingly, it is ordered that respondent be indefinitely suspended,
retroactive to July 30, 1997, from the practice of law in this State.
Respondent shall file an affidavit with the Clerk of Court within fifteen days
of the date of the filing of this opinion, in compliance with Paragraph 30 of
Rule 413, SCACR.