In the Matter of William Jeffrey McGurk, Respondent.
Submitted April 24, 2017
Case Nos. 2017-000508 and 2017-000564
M. Coggiola, Disciplinary Counsel, and Ericka M. Williams,
Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, both of Columbia, for Office
of Disciplinary Counsel.
William Jeffrey McGurk, of Spartanburg, pro se.
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 the imposition of an admonition, public reprimand, or
definite suspension not to exceed six (6) months. In
addition, respondent agrees to pay the costs incurred in the
investigation and prosecution of this matter by ODC and the
Commission on Lawyer Conduct (the Commission) within thirty
(30) days of the imposition of discipline and to complete the
Legal Ethics and Practice Program Ethics School within nine
(9) months of the imposition of discipline. We accept the
Agreement and suspend respondent from the practice of law in
this state for six (6) months and impose other conditions as
specified in the conclusion of this opinion. The facts, as
set forth in the Agreement, are as follows.
represented Complainant as post-conviction relief (PCR)
counsel at an evidentiary hearing on September 15, 2007. The
judge denied PCR but found Complainant was entitled to a
belated review of his direct appeal pursuant to White v.
State, 263 S.C. 110, 208 S.E.2d 35 (1974). The State
consented to the belated appeal. The final order in the PCR
action was filed on November 5, 2007. Respondent did not
serve and file a Notice of Appeal with the Supreme Court of
South Carolina as required by Rule 243, SCACR, and Rule
71.1(g) of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure
April 3, 2013, Complainant filed a pro se notice of
appeal along with a petition for belated appellate review
with this Court. On April 17, 2013, this Court sent a letter
to respondent advising him that Complainant had filed a
pro se notice of appeal. This Court reminded
respondent that he remained counsel of record for Complainant
pursuant to Rule 71.1(g), SCRCP. This Court requested
respondent advise this Court of the date on which he received
written notice of entry of the final order in the PCR matter
and directed that the information be submitted within ten
(10) days of the April 17, 2013, letter. Respondent failed to
respond to this Court's request.
26, 2013, this Court dismissed the Complainant's notice
of appeal due to respondent's failure to establish the
timeliness of the service of the notice of appeal. Respondent
took no further action on Complainant's case.
admits he failed to communicate with Complainant about the
appeal, claiming that he believed his responsibilities ended
with the denial of PCR and that an appellate defender would
assume representation of Complainant. Respondent acknowledges
that his failure to understand the applicable rules is not a
defense to misconduct.
admits that by his conduct he has violated the following
provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 407,
SCACR: Rule 1.1 (lawyer shall provide competent
representation); Rule 1.3 (lawyer shall act with reasonable
diligence and promptness in representing client); Rule 1.4
(lawyer shall keep client reasonably informed about status of
matter); and Rule 8.4(a) (it is professional misconduct for
lawyer to violate Rules of Professional Conduct).
also admits he has violated the following Rules for Lawyer
Disciplinary Enforcement, Rule 413, SCACR: Rule 7(a)(1) (it
shall be ground for discipline for ...