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In re Houston

Supreme Court of South Carolina

March 30, 2016

In the Matter of Charles E. Houston, Respondent

         Heard January 14, 2016.

          Appellate Case No. 2015-001938.

         Disciplinary Counsel Lesley M. Coggiola and Assistant Disciplinary Counsel Ericka M. Williams, both of Columbia, for Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

         John E. Parker, of Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick, PA, of Hampton, for Respondent.

         PLEICONES, C.J., BEATTY, KITTREDGE, HEARN, JJ., and Acting Justice James E. Moore, concur.

          OPINION

Page 239

          PER CURIAM:

          Respondent Charles E. Houston, Jr. failed to perfect an appeal for a client and, in two separate matters, neglected to pay a videographer and court reporting service. Additionally he failed to cooperate with the disciplinary investigations into the ensuing complaints. We suspend Respondent for nine months, order him to pay the costs of the proceeding, and require him to complete the Legal Ethics and Practice Program Ethics School and Law Office Management School as a condition of reinstatement.

         PROCEDURAL/FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Formal charges were filed against Respondent by Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) on September 17, 2012. Respondent filed an answer on January 4, 2013. ODC and Respondent stipulated to the facts, which were adopted by the panel and are as follows:

         Matter A

         Respondent was hired to take over a pending appeal for a client. Accordingly, Respondent filed an amended notice of appeal and notified the court of appeals of his representation of the client. The deadline to file the initial brief and designation of matter passed and the court of appeals dismissed the matter. Respondent subsequently filed a motion to reinstate the appeal on the basis that he had difficulty obtaining the transcript. The court of appeals granted Respondent's motion and reinstated the appeal, noting that it would be necessary for Respondent to provide the court with a copy of the letter ordering the transcript within ten days.

         Respondent missed the deadline to file the initial brief and designation of matter and the court of appeals advised him that the initial brief and designation of matter must be served and filed within thirty days because the transcript had been received. Respondent again failed to comply and the court of appeals dismissed the appeal. Respondent subsequently filed a motion to reinstate the appeal, which the court of appeals granted upon the condition that the initial brief and designation of matter be filed within thirty days. The court indicated that no further extension would be granted absent extraordinary circumstances.

         One month after the deadline passed, Respondent filed a motion for extension of time and proceeded to file the initial brief and designation of matter three weeks later. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal for failing to timely file, ...


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