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In re Lundgren

Supreme Court of South Carolina

October 18, 2017

In the Matter of Alvin R. Lundgren, Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2017-000097

          Heard August 16, 2017

          Lesley M. Coggiola, Disciplinary Counsel, and C. Tex Davis Jr., Senior Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, both of Columbia, for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

          Alvin R. Lundgren, of Veyo, Utah, pro se.

          PER CURIAM.

         In this attorney disciplinary matter, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) filed formal charges against Respondent alleging he committed misconduct by violating the rules governing pro hac vice admission and serving improper subpoena and discovery requests. Respondent is not licensed to practice law in South Carolina.[1] Because Respondent failed to file any response to the formal charges, all the allegations contained therein are deemed admitted. Rule 24(a), RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR. Neither ODC nor Respondent filed exceptions to the recommendation and the matter is now before the Court for consideration. The sole issue before the Court is determining the appropriate sanction. We accept the recommendation from the Commission on Lawyer Conduct, and we find it appropriate to permanently debar Respondent in this state and order him to pay the costs of the investigation and subsequent proceedings.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The following facts are drawn from the formal charges against Respondent and are deemed admitted pursuant to Rule 24(a), RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR.

         Respondent lives with his wife (Wife) in Utah, where he was licensed to practice law.[2] Wife previously lived in South Carolina with her first husband (Ex-Husband). Wife was divorced from Ex-Husband in 1993. Thereafter, Ex-Husband filed a defamation action against Wife in South Carolina. In February 2009, Respondent submitted an application for pro hac vice admission to the South Carolina Supreme Court Office of Bar Admissions in an effort to represent Wife in the defamation action. Respondent's local counsel filed the required application and a motion with the circuit court to allow Respondent to appear pro hac vice. However, Respondent filed various pleadings, motions, responses to motions, proposed orders, and letters to judges without the signature of his local counsel as required by Rule 404(f), SCACR.[3] Ultimately, the parties mutually agreed to dismiss their claims.

         In 2011, Wife sought to modify the Final Order and Decree of Divorce by amending certain language regarding Ex-Husband's retirement funds. In October 2012, Respondent submitted an application for pro hac vice admission to the South Carolina Supreme Court Office of Bar Admissions to represent Wife in the divorce action. Respondent failed to file his application or a motion to appear pro hac vice with the family court prior to making an appearance as required by Rule 404(c), SCACR.[4] In August of 2013, the family court issued a final order resolving the modification.

         In December 2014, approximately a year and a half after the divorce action concluded, Respondent issued a subpoena to Ex-Husband's former employer, under the caption of the divorce action. In addition to issuing a subpoena in a dismissed case, Respondent improperly: (1) issued the subpoena without stipulation of the parties or court order upon written application, as required by Rule 25, SCRFC; (2) issued the subpoena to an out-of-state entity; (3) falsely stated in the subpoena that an action was pending in family court; (4) falsely certified in the subpoena that it was issued in compliance with Rule 45, SCRCP; and (5) failed to set forth in the subpoena the text required by Rule 45(c) and (d), SCRCP. Respondent then served a document entitled "Plaintiff's Request for Answers to Interrogatories, Admissions and Request for Production of Documents" on Ex-Husband and his counsel, again citing the divorce action. In addition to serving a discovery request in a dismissed case, Respondent improperly: (1) issued the discovery request without stipulation of the parties or court order upon written application, as required by Rule 25, SCRFC; (2) had direct contact with Ex-Husband, whom Respondent knew to be represented by counsel; (3) falsely stated in the discovery request that an action was pending in family court; and (4) falsely stated in the discovery request that it was issued in compliance with Rules 33, 34, and 36, SCRCP, and Rules 34 and 36 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure. In issuing the subpoena and discovery request, Respondent's conduct violated the South Carolina Family Court Rules, the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure, and Rules 3.4(d), 4.1, 4.2, 4.4(a), and 8.4(e), RPC, Rule 407, SCACR.

         ODC filed formal charges on August 22, 2016. Respondent did not file an answer and was held in default by panel order dated November 3, 2016. The Hearing Panel convened and filed its Panel Report on December 9, 2016. Respondent was given notice of the proceeding but did not appear. After considering the aforementioned misconduct, the Hearing Panel determined Respondent is subject to discipline for violating the following Rules of Lawyer Discipline: Rule 7(a)(1) (violating the Rules of Professional Conduct or any other rules of this jurisdiction regarding professional conduct of lawyers) and Rule 7(a)(5) (engaging in conduct tending to pollute the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute or conduct demonstrating an unfitness to practice law). Rule 413, SCACR. The Hearing Panel found Respondent violated Rule 404, SCACR, the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure, and the South Carolina Rules of Family Court and was therefore subject to discipline pursuant to Rule 7(a)(1) of Rule 413, SCACR.

         DISCUSSION

         Since Respondent failed to answer the formal charges, he is deemed to have admitted the allegations in the charges. Rule 24(a), RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR. Further, since he failed to appear for the panel hearing, Respondent is deemed to have admitted the factual allegations and to have conceded the merits of any recommendations considered at the panel hearing. Rule 24(b), RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR.

         Pursuant to Rule 3(b), RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR, the Commission on Lawyer Conduct has jurisdiction over all allegations that a lawyer has committed misconduct. "Lawyer" is defined as "a lawyer not admitted in this jurisdiction if the lawyer provides or offers to provide any legal services in this jurisdiction." Rule 2(q), RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR. Accordingly, even though he is not admitted to practice law in South Carolina, Respondent is subject to the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court of South Carolina and the ...


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