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In re McMaster

Supreme Court of South Carolina

January 11, 2017

In the Matter of Frank Barnwell McMaster, Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2016-001527

          Heard November 30, 2016

         DEFINITE SUSPENSION

          Disciplinary Counsel Lesley M. Coggiola and Assistant Disciplinary Counsel Joseph P. Turner both of Columbia, for Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

          Frank Barnwell McMaster, of West Columbia, pro se.

          PER CURIAM:

         In this disciplinary matter, neither the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") nor respondent take exception to the Commission on Lawyer Conduct Panel's ("Panel") recommendation that respondent be: suspended for thirty months retroactive to March 2014; required to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings; and required to comply with ongoing monitoring conditions. We agree respondent committed misconduct, and accept the Panel's recommendation.

         FACTS

         In 2013, respondent was arrested and charged with driving under the influence ("DUI"), first offense; failure to give or giving improper signal; and hit and run involving property damage. He pleaded guilty to DUI and improper turn; the remaining charge was dismissed. Respondent paid a fine.

         Approximately one year later, respondent was arrested and charged with use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs; disorderly conduct; and damaging/tampering with a vehicle. He pleaded guilty to unlawful carrying of a pistol and again paid a fine. Shortly after his arrest for the second incident, this Court placed respondent on interim suspension. See In re McMaster, 407 S.C. 213, 755 S.E.2d 107 (2014).

         In November 2015, respondent and the ODC entered into a stipulation of facts, followed by the filing of formal charges on February 1, 2016. The formal charges assert respondent committed misconduct as defined in Rule 7(a), RLDE, and Rule 413, SCACR, by violating: (1) Rule 8.4(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 407, SCACR, in that he committed criminal acts that reflect adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer; and (2) any other rule the Panel or Court might deem violated by respondent's conduct. The stipulation of facts provides:

(1) on April 29, 2013, respondent was arrested and charged with DUI, first offense; failure to give or giving improper signal; and hit and run with property damage, resulting in respondent pleading guilty to DUI and improper turn in December 2013;
(2) on February 20, 2014, respondent was arrested and charged with use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs; disorderly conduct; and damaging or tampering with a vehicle, resulting in respondent pleading guilty to unlawful carrying of a pistol and forfeiting bond on the disorderly conduct charge;
(3) Respondent submits the common thread in both incidents was alcohol abuse induced by depression associated with the dissolution of his marriage;
(4) Respondent sought help from a licensed physician who monitored respondent tri-monthly, and who submitted a letter dated March 4, 2015, addressed to respondent's attorney stating respondent is ...

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