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In re Davidson

Supreme Court of South Carolina

August 13, 2014

In the Matter of Eric J. Davidson, Respondent Appellate Case No. 2013-000691.

Heard August 7, 2013

Disciplinary Counsel Lesley M. Coggiola and Assistant Disciplinary Counsel Barbara M. Seymour, of Columbia, for Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

Eric J. Davidson, of Baltimore, Maryland, Pro se Respondent.

TOAL, C.J., PLEICONES, BEATTY, KITTREDGE and HEARN, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 557

[409 S.C. 323] PER CURIAM:

In this attorney discipline matter, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) filed formal charges against Eric J. Davidson (Respondent) based on allegations of misconduct. On July 9, 2012, Respondent was served with a notice of filing of formal charges and formal charges by certified mail. After two extensions, Respondent did not file an answer.

By administrative order dated December 14, 2012, the Commission on Lawyer Conduct (the Commission) declared Respondent in default for failing to respond to the formal charges against him; thus, it deemed the facts contained in the formal charges admitted.[1]

On February 26, 2013, a Panel of the Commission (the Panel) held a hearing to determine the appropriate sanctions. [409 S.C. 324] Following this hearing, the Panel recommended that Respondent be disbarred, as well as other conditions.

We adopt the Panel's recommendation of disbarment.

Factual/Procedural History

A. Complaint

Respondent hired a lawyer to represent him in a domestic matter (the domestic lawyer). After the representation ended, the domestic lawyer hired another lawyer (the settlement lawyer) to collect unpaid attorneys' fees from Respondent. The settlement lawyer negotiated an agreement with Respondent whereby Respondent agreed to pay the domestic lawyer two payments of $2,000.

In January 2009, Respondent made the first payment. In March 2009, Respondent sent the settlement lawyer the second $2,000 payment. Upon receipt of the check, the settlement lawyer noticed that Respondent wrote the check from his trust account. He telephoned Respondent, who stated that he had earned a fee and that he was paying his settlement obligation from that fee. The settlement lawyer informed Respondent that it was improper to pay his personal obligations directly from a trust account, even if it was an earned fee. Respondent agreed to replace the trust account check with a personal check. Respondent asked the settlement lawyer if he could wire the payment directly into his account. The settlement lawyer agreed, and Respondent completed the wire transaction. ...


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