In the Matter of Joseph Raymond Neal, Jr., Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2016-001752
Submitted October 31, 2016
M. Coggiola, Disciplinary Counsel, and Julie K. Martino,
Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, both of Columbia, for Office
of Disciplinary Counsel.
Ballard, of Ballard & Watson, Attorneys at Law, of West
Columbia, for Respondent.
attorney disciplinary matter, the Office of Disciplinary
Counsel and respondent 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 the imposition of a confidential admonition, a public
reprimand, or a definite suspension up to nine (9) months.
Respondent requests that any suspension be made retroactive
to the date of his interim suspension. We accept the
Agreement and impose a definite suspension of nine (9) months
from the practice of law. We deny respondent's request to
make his suspension retroactive to the date of
respondent's interim suspension.
the evening of December 16, 2011, respondent and his wife
provided alcohol to an eighteen (18) year old female guest at
their home in Augusta, Georgia. The guest had formerly worked
for the couple as a babysitter. Marijuana was also used in
the home that evening. Respondent and his wife engaged in
sexual intercourse with the guest. According to respondent,
the marijuana belonged to his wife, and the sexual
intercourse was consensual. On December 21, 2011, the guest
contacted law enforcement to report the incident.
March 6, 2012, respondent was indicted on one count of Rape
and one count of Furnishing Alcohol to a Person under
Twenty-One in violation of the laws of the State of Georgia.
Because of the pending indictment, respondent was placed on
interim suspension by order of this Court on March 27, 2012.
In the Matter of Neal, 397 S.C. 496, 727 S.E.2d 27
6, 2012, respondent pled guilty to three misdemeanor charges:
Disorderly Conduct, Furnishing Alcohol to a Person under
Twenty-One, and Possession of Marijuana. The indictment for
Rape was dismissed and a nolle prosequi was granted
by the trial court.
was sentenced to twelve (12) months of probation on each
charge, with all sentences to run consecutively. Respondent
was ordered to have no contact with the victim or the
victim's family, submit to random drug screens, and
perform 100 hours of community service at a wastewater
treatment facility. Respondent was also fined $1, 000 for
21, 2012, respondent filed a motion to withdraw his guilty
plea on the charge of Possession of Marijuana because he
stated he was not informed he would lose his driver's
license for 180 days as a result of his plea. The court
granted respondent's motion on March 29, 2013, and
allowed respondent to substitute a plea of nolo contendre
nunc pro tunc on the Possession of Marijuana charge. The
order providing for the substituted plea modified
respondent's sentence to include a requirement that he
offer himself as a speaker to each of the five law schools in
the State of Georgia regarding "issues which arose in
complied with all conditions of his probation, and his
probation was terminated on June 6, 2015.
admits his conduct violated the following provisions of the
Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 407, SCACR: Rule 8.4(a)
(it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to violate the
Rules of Professional Conduct); and Rule 8.4(b) (it is
professional misconduct for a lawyer to commit a criminal act
that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty,
trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer).
also admits his convictions bring the legal profession into
disrepute and thereby constitute grounds for ...