Commission on Lawyer Conduct
1220 Senate Street, Suite 309,
Columbia, South Carolina
Re: COMPLAINT AGAINST ATTORNEY
Complainant, Dorothy Pierce, hereby submits this against Richard McDuff (hereinafter “the Attorney”), who is an Attorney licensed to practice law in South Carolina. Accordingly, the Complainant has stated the facts and allegations of violations herein below.
- The Attorney represented the Plaintiff in my Probate Case at the Probate Court, County of Oconee, SC. (Case No: 2020ES3700532).
- The Attorney was also the Attorney for the Landlord whose building Plaintiff had leased.
- The Complainant is the owner and/or proprietor of [ENTER COMPANY’S NAME] of address [ENTER ADDRESS], which Company deals in the manufacture of face masks. Plaintiff established the business on or about [ENTER DATE].
- When Plaintiff established the business, she engaged the services of a local Newspaper company to advertise Plaintiff’s products.
- Consequently, the Attorney called the Newspaper Company that had begun advertising Plaintiff’s business, and informed them that Plaintiff had been defeated in another case for fraud. Accordingly, the newspaper company sent Plaintiff an Email citing the Judgment and immediately stopped advertising Plaintiff’s business. Plaintiff could not market her products and therefore could not sell her products.
- Also, under the influence of the Attorney, Jared Adam Pierce (hereinafter “Adam”) claimed ownership of Plaintiff’s business; and obtained keys to Plaintiff’s facility. Adam was the Plaintiff in Case No. 2020ES3700532. Consequently, after Adam obtained the keys to the facility several items were stolen including but not limited to a brand new air compressor, which Plaintiff had bought for $ 2,900; 5 brand new office chairs; 4 brand new desktop computers and laptops.
- Complainant therefore files the instant complaint against the said Attorney for the aforesaid reasons.
- First, under the South Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers have special responsibility for the quality of justice. See S.c. R. Prof’l. Cond. PREAMBLE. Claimant therefore contends that the Attorney violated his responsibilities in the following manner:
- Conflict of interest
- According to Rule 1.7 of the South Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer should avoid all situations of conflict of interest. The said Section states in pertinent part that: “a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest.” A conflict of interest arises where “there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person or by a personal interest of the lawyer.” See S.c. R. Prof’l. Cond. 1.7(a)(2).
- Complainant submits that the Attorney doubled up as the lawyer for the Plaintiff in Complainant’s Probate Case; and the lawyer for Complainant’s landlord. It follows; therefore, the foregoing posed a situation of conflict of interest and the Attorney should have withdrawn from the case.
- Candor towards the tribunal
- Rule 3.3 of the South Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct provides that a lawyer shall not knowingly provide a false statement of fact or law to the court; or offer evidence which is false. Also, if the attorney knows of the falsity of the evidence and/or fact later, he has a duty to disclose the information to the court. Further, a “legal argument based on a knowingly false representation of law constitutes dishonesty toward the tribunal.” See S.c. R. Prof’l. Cond. 3.3, Comment No. 4.
- In the instant case, the Attorney made false statements against Complainant. For instance, the Attorney told the Newspaper Company that Complainant had been found guilty in criminal cases, which made the Newspaper Company stop advertising Complainant’s products.
- Fairness to Opposing Counsel
- Rule 4.1 of the South Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct provides that a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of material fact to a third person.
- In the instant case, the Attorney lied to the Newspaper Company that the Complainant was a criminal. Complainant therefore suffered when her company’s products could not be advertised.
- Under Rule 8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, it is a professional misconduct to “violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another.”
- Lawyers should also not “engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.” S.C. R. Prof’l. Cond. 8.4(d).
- They should also not “engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.” S.C. R. Prof’l. Cond. 8.4(e).
- In the instant action, the Attorney’s conduct as alleged hereinabove amounted to misconduct.
WHEREFORE, Complainant submits that the Attorney be found liable for violation of the said rules. The Complainant further requests this Court humbly, to take any appropriate measure(s) against the Attorney for his conduct as alleged herein.
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