In the Matter of Joel F. Geer, Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2017-000273
March 5, 2018
Disciplinary Counsel John S. Nichols and Senior Assistant
Disciplinary Counsel Ericka M. Williams, for the Office of
F. Geer, Respondent, pro se, of Greenville.
S. Boozer, Guardian Ad Litem, pro se.
attorney disciplinary matter, a hearing panel of the
Commission on Lawyer Conduct (Panel) issued a report
recommending that Respondent Joel F. Geer be disbarred; that
he be ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary
proceedings; and that he be ordered to pay restitution.
Neither the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) nor
Respondent took exception to the Panel's report. For the
reasons that follow, we find the appropriate sanction is a
three-year definite suspension and the payment of costs of
the disciplinary proceedings. We further order Respondent to
pay $31, 794.92 in restitution.
April 10, 2015, the Court placed Respondent on interim
suspension and appointed a receiver to protect the interests
of Respondent's clients. In re Geer, 412 S.C.
124, 771 S.E.2d 345 (2015). Formal Charges were filed against
Respondent in July 2015, and Supplemental Formal Charges were
filed against him in August 2016. As a result of
Respondent's failure to answer either set of charges, the
following allegations against him were deemed admitted
pursuant to Rule 24(a), RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR.
2013, Respondent represented a limited liability company
(LLC) in collecting money owed by a customer, and Respondent
obtained a confession of judgment in favor of the LLC in the
amount of $31, 794.92. Before the judgment was
satisfied, the customer filed bankruptcy. Respondent prepared
a Proof of Claim but failed to file it with the bankruptcy
court. The bankruptcy estate had sufficient assets to pay the
debt owed to the LLC, but by the time the LLC secured
alternate counsel, its claim was time-barred.
was administratively suspended from the practice of law on
March 14, 2014, for failing to pay his annual license fees as
required by Rule 401, SCACR; Respondent was reinstated on
March 26, 2014. Prior to being reinstated, however,
Respondent engaged in the unauthorized practice of law when
he filed pleadings in circuit court on behalf of a
shareholder client on March 17, 2014. Subsequently, the
circuit court ordered that all corporate funds in the
possession of Respondent's client be deposited with a
court-appointed receiver and denied Respondent's request
to receive attorney's fees from those funds. In disregard
of the circuit court's order, attorney's fees were
withheld prior to the funds being turned over to the
receiver. Ultimately, Respondent's law firm remitted the
withheld funds but only after the circuit court issued a Rule
to Show Cause why Respondent should not be held in contempt.
Throughout the pendency of the matter in circuit court,
Respondent failed to respond to telephone calls and emails
from court staff, failed to appear at multiple hearings, and
failed to timely comply with court orders and sanctions
imposed by the circuit court.
2014, Respondent accepted a fee of $250 to represent a client
in connection with a car loan issue. Several months later,
Respondent cancelled several meetings with the client, then
stopped communicating with the client altogether. Eventually,
the client's emails to Respondent were returned with a
message that Respondent's email ...