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In re Cutchin

Supreme Court of South Carolina

April 22, 2015

In the Matter of William Joseph Cutchin, Respondent

Heard March 5, 2015

Disciplinary Counsel Lesley M. Coggiola, and Assistant Disciplinary Counsel Julie K. Martino, both of Columbia, for Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

William Joseph Cutchin, of Tallahassee, Florida, Pro se.

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

OPINION

Page 846

[412 S.C. 146] PER CURIAM:

William Joseph Cutchin (Respondent) engaged in a course of conduct where he undertook representation of clients but failed to perform the services promised, accepted fees for work not completed, and comingled and misappropriated client funds. Additionally, Respondent closed his law practice and moved out of state without notifying clients or providing any forwarding information. We disbar Respondent, order him to pay the

Page 847

costs of this proceeding, make restitution, and to complete the Legal Ethics and Practice Program, Ethics School, and Trust Account School prior to seeking readmission to the South Carolina Bar.

[412 S.C. 147] PROCEDURAL/FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Formal charges were filed against Respondent by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) on November 8, 2013. Respondent filed an answer on December 12, 2013. The panel of the Commission on Lawyer Conduct served Respondent with an order to appear before the panel on June 12, 2014, and the panel convened on August 12, 2014. Respondent did not appear. As a result of his failure to appear, Respondent is deemed to have admitted the factual allegations in the formal charges pursuant to Rule 24(b), RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR. The factual allegations are as follows:

Matter A

Respondent was retained to prepare a will and trust for a client. Respondent prepared the documents, and they were signed by the client. After client's death, complainants, the trustees in this matter, asked for assistance in paying medical and funeral expenses and probating client's estate. Respondent agreed and charged complainants $1,000.00.

Respondent suggested complainants sign several blank counter checks on the trust account so he could pay bills as they came due. The complainants agreed, and left several signed, blank checks in Respondent's possession. He then wrote checks on the trust account that totaled $12,500.00, only $1,000.00 of which was authorized as payment to him. Of the $11,500.00 fraudulently deposited into his Respondent's operating account, only $2,381.24 was used on behalf of the trust; $9,118.76 was misappropriated.

After repeated attempts to receive records requested regarding this matter, ODC issued a subpoena requiring Respondent to appear for an interview with there cords. Respondent failed to appear. Instead, Respondent wrote a letter to ODC stating he had closed his practice, ...


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