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In re Rawlinson

Supreme Court of South Carolina

November 6, 2019

In the Matter of Bradford Alexander Rawlinson, Respondent Appellate Case No. 2019-001513

          Submitted October 17, 2019

          John S. Nichols, Disciplinary Counsel, and Ericka M. Williams, Senior Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, both of Columbia, for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

          John Magruder Read, IV, of The Read Law Firm, of Greenville, for Respondent.

          PER CURIAM:

         In this attorney disciplinary matter, Respondent and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) have entered into an Agreement for Discipline by Consent (the Agreement) pursuant to Rule 21, RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR. In the Agreement, Respondent admits misconduct and consents to the imposition of a definite suspension not to exceed three years. We accept the Agreement and suspend Respondent from the practice of law in this state for eighteen (18) months, retroactive to July 23, 2018, the date of his interim suspension. In re Rawlinson, 424 S.C. 15, 817 S.E.2d 632 (2018). The facts, as set forth in the Agreement, are as follows.

         Facts

         Matter I

         On April 18, 2018, Respondent was placed on administrative suspension for failing to file a report showing his compliance with the continuing legal education (CLE) requirements pursuant to Rule 408, SCACR, for the reporting year ending in February 2018. On June 15, 2018, the Commission on CLE informed the Chief Deputy Clerk of the Supreme Court Respondent was in compliance with the CLE requirements; however, Respondent never filed a petition with the Court seeking reinstatement from his administrative suspension.

         Matter II

         On May 1, 2018, Respondent contacted an assistant solicitor and a circuit court judge on behalf of a client Respondent believed was wrongfully arrested on a bench warrant. On a three-way call between Respondent, the assistant solicitor, and the judge, the judge informed Respondent he could not entertain Respondent's proposal regarding the client given Respondent's administrative suspension. Respondent contacted a colleague who assisted the client in lifting the bench warrant and being released from jail.

         On June 14, 2018, the assistant solicitor emailed Respondent regarding the same client and requested Respondent have another attorney cover the case and bring the client to court on June 18, 2018. On June 18, 2018, Respondent emailed the assistant solicitor and stated he would be in court with the client as he (Respondent) "finally got clearance." At the time Respondent sent the email, he remained administratively suspended. Respondent did not appear with the client on June 18, 2018.

         On June 22, 2018, Respondent again emailed the assistant solicitor and included the June 15, 2018 compliance letter from the Commission on CLE. In the email, Respondent informed the solicitor, "I included an email below I received last week that made me think I was good to go as far as CLEs. Unfortunately[, ] I am still waiting [on] the approval (never going through this again)." Respondent further stated, "I need to meet with [the client] and another attorney who can try the case in my absence should I still be awaiting approval."

         ODC mailed Respondent a Notice of Investigation (NOI) on May 15, 2018, requesting a response to the complaint regarding this matter within fifteen days. When Respondent failed to respond, he was served with a letter pursuant to In re Treacy, 277 S.C. 514, 290 S.E.2d 240 (1982). On July 6, 2018, ODC mailed Respondent a Supplemental NOI. In what would prove to be a pattern, Respondent did not respond to the NOI or the Supplemental NOI until January 2, 2019.

         Matter III

         Complainant retained Respondent in December 2017 to represent her in a domestic matter. Respondent quoted Complainant a total fee of $1, 500, plus a $150 filing fee. Complainant paid Respondent $1, 250 of the quoted fee for the representation. Respondent failed to maintain reasonable communication with Complainant regarding her case. Respondent prepared the pleadings in ...


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