In the Matter of John W. Swan, Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2017-002129
Submitted February 22, 2018
S. Nichols, Disciplinary Counsel, and C. Tex Davis Jr.,
Senior Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, both of Columbia, for
Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
C. Wilson, IV and Carl Everette Pierce, II, both of Pierce,
Herns, Sloan & Wilson, LLC, of Charleston, for
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 a public reprimand. We accept the
Agreement and issue a public reprimand. The facts, as set
forth in the Agreement, are as follows.
represented Client in a criminal matter. Concerned that
Client was suffering from a medical emergency and that the
medical treatment Client was receiving in jail was
inadequate, respondent paid Client's bond. When Client
ran out of money to pay for the motel room where she was
living, and was at risk of having to live on the street,
respondent, with his wife's permission, allowed Client to
stay at respondent's house with respondent and his wife
for two to three nights. Respondent's wife provided
Client with clothing. Respondent provided assistance to
Client, including monetary assistance, in obtaining a
driver's license, car insurance, and a new cell phone.
Respondent also aided Client in signing up for inpatient drug
rehabilitation. Respondent briefly employed Client in his law
office. Respondent represents that he had negotiated a
tentative plea agreement with the solicitor and believed the
matter would be concluded based on that agreement at the time
he began providing financial assistance to Client.
the funds advanced to Client came from respondent's
operating account or personal funds, and respondent expected
to be repaid from Client's anticipated tax refund. Client
gave respondent a power of attorney so that respondent could
receive the tax refund and secure repayment of the funds
advanced. Respondent maintains the funds provided to Client
did not encourage Client to pursue any litigation and did not
provide respondent with a financial stake in any litigation.
See Rule 1.8, cmt. 10, RPC, Rule 407, SCACR.
several occasions, respondent made sexually inappropriate
comments to Client on the telephone while she was in jail,
and on one occasion did the same with another client who was
in jail. There is no evidence, nor have the clients claimed,
respondent had sexual relations or engaged in any other
inappropriate or unwarranted touching with either client,
including with Client while she was staying in his home.
There is also no evidence respondent requested sexual
services in exchange for anything.
asserts he believed at the time the comments were made that
they "were merely 'raunchy' banter or jokes
between jailed clients with a difficult past and their
attorney" and that they were part of private
conversations that he never imagined would become public.
Respondent now acknowledges the inappropriate nature of the
comments. Indeed, our review of the portions of the telephone
conversations at issue revealed respondent's comments to
be sexually explicit and highly offensive in nature. We find
such comments made to a client by a member of the legal
profession are entirely inappropriate and they will not be
occasion, respondent delivered electronic cigarettes to two
clients in jail. He deliberately concealed the transfer by
positioning his body in order to block the surveillance
camera. A second delivery to one of the clients was foiled
when an officer monitoring the surveillance camera in the
visitation room witnessed respondent physically embracing the
client and subsequently confiscated the electronic cigarette
from the client. Electronic cigarettes were sold at the
jail's commissary, and, under South Carolina law, are not
considered contraband or a form of tobacco products, which
are banned at the jail. See S.C. Code Ann. §
16-17-501 (2015) (defining electronic cigarette); S.C. Code
Ann. § 24-7-155 (Supp. 2017) (matters considered
contraband); S.C. Code Reg. 33-1 (2011) (list of articles