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25175 - In the Matter of Michael L. James
In the Matter of James


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


THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

In The Supreme Court



In the Matter of Michael

L. James, Respondent.



Opinion No. 25175

Submitted July 11, 2000 - Filed July 24, 2000



DEFINITE SUSPENSION



Michael L. James, pro se.



Henry B. Richardson, Jr., of Columbia, for the Office

of the Disciplinary Counsel.



PER CURIAM: By way of the attached Opinion and Order of

the Supreme Court of Kentucky dated May 23, 2000, respondent was

suspended from the practice of law in that state for one year. 1 Letters from

the Clerk of this Court, dated May 5, 2000, and June 7, 2000, notifying

respondent that he had thirty (30) days in which to inform this Court of any

reason the imposition of the identical discipline should not be imposed on

respondent in this state were sent to respondent via certified mail at two

addresses listed with the South Carolina Bar, Kentucky State Bar, Supreme

Court of Kentucky, and the Office of Bar Counsel for the Kentucky State




1 Respondent was previously suspended for thirty days by the Kentucky

Supreme Court on September 3, 1998. This Court imposed reciprocal

discipline of thirty days' suspension on November 6, 1998. In the Matter of

James, 333 S.C. 59, 508 S.E.2d 28 (1998).



p. 442


In the Matter of James





Bar. A copy of the June 7, 2000, letter was also sent to Timothy Denison,

counsel for respondent in the matter before the Supreme Court of Kentucky,

via first class mail after speaking with Mr. Denison via telephone and

receiving assurances from Mr. Denison that if the letter was sent to him he

would see that respondent received it. See Rule 29(b), RLDE, Rule 413,

SCACR. The May 5, 2000, letter was returned unclaimed. The June 7,

2000, letter to respondent was claimed by someone other than respondent.

The Court has not received a response from respondent.







Finding a sufficient attempt has been made to serve notice on

respondent, and finding none of the factors in Rule 29(d), RLDE, Rule 413,

SCACR, present in this matter, we hereby suspend respondent from the

practice of law in this state for one year, retroactive to May 23, 2000, the

date of the Opinion and Order of the Supreme Court of Kentucky. Within

fifteen (15) 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,

Rule 413, SCACR.







DEFINITE SUSPENSION.





p.443


TO BE PUBLISHED

Supreme Court of Kentucky



2000-SC-0147-KB



MICHAEL L. JAMES, MOVANT



V.



KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION, RESPONDENT



IN SUPREME COURT



OPINION AND ORDER



Michael L. James of Louisville, Kentucky, moves this Court, pursuant to SCR

3.480(3), for an order suspending him from the practice of law in Kentucky for a period

of one year from the date of the order and for sixty days, to run concurrently with the

one-year suspension. James acknowledges his misconduct in the following pending

disciplinary matters.







KBA Charge 7125

The Inquiry Commission on September 18, 1999, issued a three-count charge

against James arising from his representation of a client and her claim for personal

injury sustained in an accident. On September 24, 1993, James filed a complaint in

circuit court and on October 20, 1994, the circuit court filed a notice to dismiss for lack

of prosecution. No action was taken by James and the order dismissing for lack of



p.444


James v. Kentucky Bar Association





prosecution was entered November 23, 1994. On November 25, 1994, he filed a

motion to continue, which was denied on December 7.







James failed to inform his client that her case had been dismissed for lack of

prosecution and that a motion to continue it was also denied. In May of 1995, he

advised the client that the case was ongoing and would likely go to trial in August of that

year. In May, the client discovered from another attorney that the case had been

dismissed in November of 1994. She dismissed James and hired a successor attorney

who filed an Entry of Appearance and Motion for Relief from an Order of Dismissal

which was denied.







In Count I of KBA File 7125, the Inquiry Commission charges James with a

violation of SCR 3.130-1.3 which provides that a lawyer shall act with reasonable

diligence and promptness in representing a client. In Count II of KBA File 7125, the

commission charges James with a violation of SCR 3.130-1.4(a) which provides that a

lawyer should keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and

promptly comply with the reasonable request for information.







Count III of KBA File 7125 recites the Inquiry Commission charge against James

for a violation of SCR 3.130-8.3(c) which provides that it is professional misconduct for

a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud. deceit or misrepresentation.







James admits that he violated the above mentioned Supreme Court Rules by

failing or refusing to take necessary steps to avoid the dismissal of the case; by failing

to inform the client that her case was dismissed for lack of prosecution; by failing to

inform her that the motion to continue was denied and by falsely advising her in May

1995 that her case was going to trial in August 1995, when it had already been

dismissed in November 1994.

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p.445


James v. Kentucky Bar Association





KEA 7282

On December 14, 1999, the Inquiry Commission issued a one-count charge

against James which arose from his representation of a client while he was under a 30-

day suspension by order of this Court. James has not been reinstated to the practice of

law by this Court pending a determination of an objection to automatic reinstatement

upon the expiration of 30 days.







In Count I of File 7282, the Inquiry Commission charges James with a violation of

SCR 3.130-5.5(a), which provides that "a lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction

where doing so violates the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction." James

admits that he violated the rule by appearing at a mediation conference representing a

client in a case in the Jefferson Circuit Court while he was suspended from the practice

of law in Kentucky.







James desires to terminate the disciplinary proceedings by consenting to a

suspension from the practice of law for one year and 60 days, with the 60 days to run

concurrent with the one-year suspension. He acknowledges that his conduct alleged in

Counts I, II and III of KEA File 7125 and Count I of KEA File 7282 constitutes unethical

and unprofessional conduct.







James was admitted to the practice of law in Kentucky in 1985. He was

suspended from the practice of law for 30 days on September 3, 1998, and suspended

from the practice of law again by order of this Court for six months beginning on

October 21, 1999.



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p.446


James v. Kentucky Bar Association





It is hereby ORDERED that:

1) The motion of James for suspension from the practice of law for a period of

one year from the date of this order and for 60 days to run concurrent with that year is

GRANTED.



2) James shall not be permitted to engage in the practice of law as defined by

SCR 3.020 in Kentucky for at least one year and until such time as the Supreme Court

of Kentucky enters an order reinstating his membership in the Kentucky Bar

Association.



3) James may seek reinstatement after one year from the date of this order, only

under the terms of the rules of court in effect at the time readmission is sought, as well

as any other terms ordered by this Court.



4) In accordance with SCR 3.450 and SCR 3.480(3), James is directed to pay all

costs associated with this disciplinary proceeding against him in the amount of $42.03.

Upon finality of this Opinion and Order, execution may issue from this Court for said

costs.



5) Pursuant to SCR 3.390, James is ORDERED to provide notice to all clients

that he currently represents, if applicable, of his inability to perform legal services and to

notify all courts in which he has matters pending of his suspension and to provide the

Director of the Kentucky Bar Association with a copy of all such letters simultaneous to

their mailing.



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p.447


James v. Kentucky Bar Association





Lambert, C.J., Cooper, Johnstone, Keller Wintersheimer and Stumbo, JJ.,

concur. Graves, J., dissents and would impose greater discipline. __ ..:



Entered: March 23, 2000



Chief Justice







COUNSEL FOR MOVANT:

Timothy Denison

730 West Main Street

Suite 390

Louisville, KY 40202-2640



COUNSEL FOR RESPONDENT:

Bruce K. Davis

Executive Director

Kentucky Bar Association

514 West Main Street

Frankfort, KY 40601



Jay R. Garrett

Kentucky Bar Association

514 West Main Street

Frankfort, KY 40202



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p.448