In the Matter of Fred W. Auman, III, Respondent
Submitted July 9, 2015.
Appellate Case No. 2015-001442.
Lesley M. Coggiola, Disciplinary Counsel, and Barbara M. Seymour, Deputy Disciplinary Counsel, both of Columbia, for Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
J. Steedley Bogan, Esquire, of Bogan Law Firm and John S. Nichols, Esquire, of Bluestein Nichols Thompson & Delgado, LLC, both of Columbia, for Respondent.
TOAL, C.J., PLEICONES, BEATTY, and HEARN, JJ., concur. KITTREDGE, J., not participating.
In this attorney disciplinary matter, respondent and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) have entered into an Agreement for Discipline by Consent (Agreement) pursuant to Rule 21 of the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement (RLDE) contained in Rule 413 of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules (SCACR). In the Agreement, respondent admits misconduct and consents to disbarment. Respondent requests the disbarment be made retroactive to February 26, 2015, the date he was suspended and transferred to incapacity inactive status. We accept the Agreement and disbar respondent from the practice of law in this state, with conditions that will be set forth more fully below. The disbarment shall be retroactive to the date respondent was placed on interim suspension and transferred to incapacity inactive status. The facts, as set forth in the Agreement, are as follows.
On February 12, 2013, a trust account check in the amount of $2,500 issued by respondent was presented to the bank. The check was paid by the bank despite there being insufficient funds in the account, resulting in an overdraft of $1,453.75. The lack of sufficient funds was caused by respondent's overpayment on a settlement he disbursed in October 2012.
On October 10, 2012, respondent deposited into his trust account a settlement of $25,000 obtained on behalf of a personal injury client. On October 12, 2012, respondent issued a check payable to his law firm's operating account in the amount of $4,000 for his portion of the fees. Respondent failed to inform his bookkeeper he issued the fee check.
On October 17, 2012, the client came to the office to sign the disbursement statement and receive her funds. Because the staff was unaware respondent had already written his own fee check, a second fee check was deposited into the law firm's operating account. Despite the overpayment of funds disbursed on behalf of the client, the trust account was not overdrawn until February 2013. The reason for the delay was that a check disbursed to a third party on behalf of the client was not negotiated until February. The delay created a " float" that kept the balance in the trust account above zero until the check was presented.
Respondent acknowledges his failure to obtain the client's consent to the disbursement of funds on his behalf prior to negotiating his fee check violated Rule 1.5(c), RPC, Rule 407, SCACR. He further ...