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In re Thompson

Supreme Court of South Carolina

November 16, 2016

In the Matter of Robert T. Thompson, Jr., Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2016-001016

          Submitted October 31, 2016

          Lesley M. Coggiola, Disciplinary Counsel, of Columbia, for Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

          Robert T. Thompson, Jr., of Atlanta, Georgia, pro se.

          PER CURIAM.

         Respondent was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1975 and to the South Carolina Bar in 1976.[1] By order dated August 26, 2014, the Supreme Court of Georgia placed respondent on interim suspension[2] and, on February 2, 2015, disbarred him from the practice of law in that state. In the Matter of Thompson, 296 Ga. 491, 769 S.E.2d 92 (2015) (opinion attached). According to the opinion, respondent failed to file a Notice of Rejection of the Notice of Discipline and, therefore, was deemed in default, not entitled to an evidentiary hearing, and subject to discipline as provided by Georgia Bar Rule 4-208.1(b).

         Respondent failed to inform the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) of his disbarment as required by Rule 29(a) of the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement (RLDE) contained in Rule 413 of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules (SCACR). After ODC notified the Court of respondent's disbarment, the Clerk of this Court provided ODC and respondent with thirty (30) days in which to inform the Court of any reason why the imposition of identical discipline is not warranted in South Carolina.

         In his response, respondent appears to argue that, under the circumstances in his case, the Georgia disciplinary proceeding violated his right to due process because he was physically and mentally incapacitated at the time of the Georgia disciplinary proceeding and, therefore, unable to respond within the deadlines imposed by the State Bar of Georgia. Consequently, respondent claims he should not have been found in default and disbarred but, instead, permitted to participate in a diversionary program. Respondent further claims there was insufficient proof of his misconduct, that his disbarment in South Carolina would result in grave injustice, and that substantially different discipline is warranted.

         ODC filed a response asserting the imposition of reciprocal discipline is warranted, noting that respondent was aware of the disciplinary proceeding in Georgia and that he raised his alleged disability in response. ODC further maintained the misconduct stated in the Georgia disbarment opinion would likely result in similar discipline in South Carolina.

         Rule 29(d), RLDE, provides, in part, as follows:

…the Supreme Court shall impose the identical discipline …unless the lawyer or disciplinary counsel demonstrates, or the Supreme Court finds that it clearly appears upon the face of the record from which the discipline is predicated, that:
(1) The procedure was so lacking in notice or opportunity to be heard as to constitute a deprivation of due process;
(2) There was such infirmity of proof establishing the misconduct as to give rise to the clear conviction that the Supreme Court could not, consistent with its duty, accept as final the conclusion on that subject;
(3) The imposition of the same discipline by the Supreme Court would result in grave injustice;
(4) The misconduct established warrants substantially different discipline in ...

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