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25012 - In the Matter of Brown

Shearouse Adv. Sh. No.
S.E. 2d

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

In The Supreme Court

In the Matter of Harry

C. Brown, Sr., Respondent.

Opinion No. 25012

Heard October 6, 1999 - Filed November 8, 1999

DEFINITE SUSPENSION

Henry B. Richardson, Jr., and Senior Assistant

Attorney General Nathan Kaminski, Jr., of

Columbia, for Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

R. Thayer Rivers, Jr., of Ridgeland, for respondent.

PER CURIAM: In this attorney grievance matter, Harry C.

Brown, Sr., (respondent) is charged with engaging in misconduct in violation

of various provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct contained in Rule

407, SCACR, and the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement contained

in Rule 413, SCACR.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

As probate judge for Jasper County, respondent collected fees for

performing marriage ceremonies and retained those fees as personal

compensation. This Court found the practice violated the Code of Judicial

Conduct and ordered respondent "not to personally retain any further

compensation for performing marriages" and to disgorge to the Jasper

County Treasurer part of the compensation he received for performing

marriages. In the Matter of Brown, S.C. Sup. Ct. Order dated December 18,

p.24


IN THE MATTER OF BROWN

1996.

Despite this Court's order, respondent continued to retain, as

personal compensation, fees for performing marriages. This Court placed

respondent on interim suspension both as a lawyer and from his duties as a

probate judge. In the Matter of Brown, 329 S.C. 309, 494 S.E.2d 812 (1997).

On the same day, this Court issued a rule to show cause why respondent

should not be held in contempt.

This Court then found that respondent willfully violated the

December 18, 1996, order and held respondent in civil and criminal

contempt. In the Matter of Brown, 333 S.C. 414, 511 S.E.2d 351 (1998).

Respondent subsequently resigned from his position as a probate judge. 1

After a hearing, a subpanel of the Commission of Lawyer

Conduct recommended that respondent receive a definite suspension of one

year and be assessed the costs associated with the hearing. The hearing

panel adopted the subpanel's report. Respondent initially filed a brief in

opposition to this recommendation; however, he later filed petitions to

withdraw his brief and join in the recommendations of the panels and for

substitution of counsel. These petitions were granted on September 22,

1999.

DISCUSSION

Respondent's convictions for civil and criminal contempt

constitute misconduct under both the Rules of Professional Conduct and the

Rules of Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement.

In particular, respondent violated the following provisions of the

Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 407, SCACR: Rule 8.4(a) (violating the

Rules of Professional Conduct); Rule 8.4(b) (committing a criminal act that

reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a

lawyer); Rule 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit,

or misrepresentation); and Rule 8.4(e) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the

administration of justice).


1 As a result of these convictions, respondent, in his capacity as a

probate judge, received a public reprimand from this Court on January 25,

1999. In the Matter of Brown, 334 S.C. 44, 512 S.E.2d 114 (1999).

p.25


IN THE MATTER OF BROWN

Further, respondent's conduct violated the following provisions of

the Rules of Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement, Rule 413, SCACR: Rule

7(a)(4) (being convicted of a crime of moral turpitude or a serious crime);

Rule 7(a)(5) (engaging in conduct tending to pollute the administration of

justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into, disrepute); Rule

7(a)(6) (violating the oath taken upon admission to practice law); and Rule

7(a)(7) (violating a valid court order).

We find respondent's misconduct warrants a definite suspension

of eighteen months. Accordingly, respondent is suspended for eighteen

months, retroactive to December 18, 1997, the date of his interim

suspension. Respondent is also assessed costs of the hearing in the amount

of $231.75

DEFINITE SUSPENSION.

C.J.

A.J.

A.J.

A.J.

A.J.

p.26