THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
In the Matter of Luke
Haulston Driggers, III, Respondent.
Opinion No. 24888
Submitted December 23, 1998 - Filed January 25, 1999
Attorney General Charles M. Condon and Senior Assistant
Attorney General James G. Bogle, both of Columbia,
for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
Luke Haulston Driggers, III, of Hurst, Texas, pro se.
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 (IRLDE) contained
in Rule 413, SCACR. In the agreement, respondent admits misconduct and
consents to be disbarred from the practice of law. We accept the agreement
and disbar respondent.
J. Pamela Price Matt
Respondent represented Jessica F. Varnadore and Bonnie S.
Varnadore in a matter regarding, an automobile accident which occurred on
or about October 5, 1996. The Varnadores, who had trouble locating
respondent, contacted Attorney J. Pamela Price for informal advice. In
September 1997, respondent's mother, Mrs. Gloria Driggers, contacted the
Varnadores, and advised them she had approximately $6,000.00 in checks
from State Farm Insurance Company. Mrs. Driggers explained to the
Varnadores that they would have to sign the checks, but if they did not she
would deposit them into her son's escrow account anyway. The Varnadores
sought telephone advice from Attorney Price. She advised them not to sign
the checks. On September 12, Mrs. Driggers deposited the two checks
totaling $6,020.12 into respondent's escrow account. No payment was ever
made by respondent to the Varnadores.
On September 17, 1997, respondent wrote two checks to himself
for $1,000.00 each on his escrow account. Respondent continued to write
checks for non-client related matters on his escrow account, reducing the
balance in that account to $0.76 by November 28, 1997, and to -$31.62 by
December 31, 1997. The balance of respondent's escrow account has never
risen above zero since that time.
Tony R. Phillips Matter
Respondent was retained by Tony R. Phillips and accepted a fee
of approximately $3,400.00. When the case was first called for trial,
respondent was not present. When another matter he was handling for Mr.
Phillips was called, respondent failed to appear.
Further, respondent furnished false and/or erroneous
information to Mr. Phillips concerning another matter respondent was
handling for him.
Laurence K. Ladue, Jr. Matter
Respondent represented Laurence K. Ladue, Jr., in several
matters. When Respondent decided to move out of state, he advised Mr.
Ladue that he would continue to represent him in those matters.
Respondent was not diligent in the matters entrusted to him by
his client, Mr. Ladue. Respondent failed to respond to communications from
his client, he failed to return the client's files to him, and he failed to deliver
to the client the client's origoinal will and codicil.
Patti Honea Brodie wrote a letter of complaint to the
Commission. Respondent did not respond to the requests for a reply by the
Commission on Lawyer Conduct (the Commission).
Additionally, respondent failed to respond to the Commission's
requests for a reply in the Price, Phillips, and Ladue matters.
Respondent has violated numerous provisions of the Rules of
Professional Conduct, Rule 407, SCACR. He failed to provide competent
representation. Rule 1.1. Respondent failed to keep a client reasonably
informed about the status of matters and comply with reasonable requests
for information. Rule 1.4(a). He failed to consult with a client as to the
means by which the client's decisions concerning the objectives of
representation were to be pursued. Rule 1.2(a). He failed to act with
reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client. Rule 1.3. He
failed to promptly deliver to a client funds or documents to which the client
was entitled to receive and failed to promptly render a full accounting
regarding funds. Rule 1.15. He misappropriated client funds. Rule 1.15.
He failed to withdraw from representation of a client if the representation
would result in a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 407,
SCACR. Rule 1.16(a)(1). He engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud,
deceit or misrepresentation. Rule 8.4(d). He engaged in conduct prejudicial
to the administration of justice. Rule 8.4(e).
Further, respondent violated provisions of Rule 7(a), RLDE. He
knowingly failed to respond to a lawful demand from the Commission to
include a request for a response under Rule 19. Rule 7(a)(3). He engaged in
conduct tending to pollute the administration of justice or to bring the courts
or the legal profession into disrepute or conduct demonstrating an unfitness
to practice law. Rule 7(a)(5). He violated the oath of office taken upon
admission to practice law in this State. Rule 7(a)(6).
Accordingly, respondent is hereby disbarred from the practice of
law, retroactive to March 4, 1998, the date of the order of his interim
suspension. 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. In addition to all other requirements respondent must meet
to be reinstated under Rule 33, RLDE, no petition for reinstatement shall be
accepted until respondent has filed proof he has paid all monies owed to
clients as determined by a Fee Dispute Resolution Committee or Panel, and
respondent has returned all client files to his clients or their attorney.