Davis Adv. Sh. No. 8
THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
In the Matter of T.
Aladdin Mozingo, Respondent.
Opinion No. 24769
Submitted January 27, 1998 - Filed February 23, 1998
- Desa Ballard, of Columbia, for respondent.
- Henry B. Richardson, Jr., of Columbia,
- Disciplinary Counsel.
PER CURIAM: In this attorney discipline matter, respondent
and disciplinary counsel have entered into an agreement under Rule 21,
RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR. In the agreement, respondent admits
misconduct and consents to be disbarred from the practice of law. We
accept the agreement.
Robert R. Forbes, Jr. Matter
Respondent represented Robert R. Forbes, Jr. in an ongoing
domestic action. As part of that action, Forbes was ordered to make child
support and alimony payments. Forbes' current wife and her father
wanted Forbes to file suit to reduce or eliminate these payments.
To help Forbes appease his family, respondent signed a letter,
which he asserts he did not read, addressed to Forbes' former employer.
This letter indicated that respondent had filed a motion in family court
about the alimony and child support payments, that an order terminating
IN THE MATTER OF MOZINGO
these payments was being signed, and that the letter was to serve as a
waiver of the garnishment of Forbes' wages. Respondent admits that
these statements contained in the letter were false.
In addition, respondent signed a letter that was faxed to
Forbes' father-in-law. Again, respondent asserts he did not read this
letter that indicated Forbes had complied with all his alimony and child
support obligations and a signed order to that effect was forthcoming.
Respondent also admits that these statements contained in the letter were
On September 7, 1997, respondent and his paralegal Amanda
Stavely prepared what purported to be the Family Court order referred to
in the letters. Respondent traced the signature of a member of this Court,
Justice Jean Hoefer Toal, from a copy of the Advance Sheets onto the
signature block of the order.
After the forgery was discovered, respondent and his mother
met with Justice Toal and members of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
At that meeting, respondent stated that Stavely prepared the order and
that she traced Justice Toal's signature onto the signature block of the
order. Respondent now admits this was a false statement, made at the
urging of his mother and Stavely.
Richard H. Gregrory Matter
Richard H. Gregory retained respondent in January 1997 to
file suit against Wal-Mart and the Police Department in Savannah,
Georgia. Respondent admits after he was temporarily suspended from the
practice of law, he failed to deliver Gregory's file to the attorney appointed
by this Court to protect his clients' interests.1
Ronnie Clark and Terry Clark Matter
Respondent admits he furnished a rental car and/or the monies
for a rental car to Ronnie Clark and Terry Clark while he was
representing them on a contingent fee basis.
Bryan Cox Matter
1In the Matter of T. Aladdin Mozinizo, __ S.C.__, 492 S.E.2d 75 (1997).
IN THE MATTER OF MOZINGO
Cox was ticketed for three traffic offenses and retained
respondent to handle the matter. Cox deposited funds with respondent for
payment of these tickets and was assured that the tickets would be paid.
They were not, and one of Cox's charges ultimately went before the
general sessions court for disposition. Cox was properly notified of roll
call; however, he failed to appear for court and was arrested and
incarcerated for five days. Respondent admits he failed to adequately
supervise his staff's transmission of payment of Cox's fines for these traffic
Neglect of Legal Matters
Finally, respondent admits that by the requisite standard of
care, he neglected certain legal matters entrusted to him by his clients. In
these matters, respondent also admits that he did not communicate
sufficiently the status of these matters to his clients, causing some clients
to believe actions had been filed when they had not.
Respondent's conduct in the Forbes matter violated several of
the Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 407, SCACR. Respondent
assisted a client in conduct that he knew was criminal and fraudulent.
Rule 1.2(d). Respondent knowingly made false statements of material
facts to a tribunal. Rule 3.3. In addition, he made false statements of
material facts to third parties and failed to disclose material facts to avoid
assisting a fraudulent act by a client. Rule 4.1. Respondent used means
that had no purpose but to embarrass, delay, or burden third parties.
Rule 4.4. In addition, he failed to make certain that nonlawyer assistants
in his office complied with his professional obligations. Rule 5.3.
Furthermore, respondent violated the Rules of Professional Conduct,
committed a criminal act which reflects on his honesty, and engaged in
conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation, Rule
8.4 (a), (b), and (d). Previous opinions of this Court have recognized the
seriousness of a lawyer forging the signature of a judicial officer. See In
the Matter of Walker, 305 S.C. 482, 409 S.E.2d 412 (1991) (attorney who
forged circuit court judge's name to expungement order was indefinitely
suspended); State ex rel McLeod v. Belcher, 249 S.C. 301, 153 S.E.2d 921
(1967) (attorney disbarred after forging the signature of a special referee
and a circuit court judge to reports and decrees in a divorce case); Cate v.
Rivers, 246 S.C. 35, 142 S.E.2d 869 (1965) (attorney who forged judge's
signature to adoption decrees was disbarred).
IN THE MATTER OF MOZINGO
Respondent's conduct in the other matters also violated the
Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 407, SCACR. He failed to act with
reasonable diligence and promptness in representing clients and failed to
keep clients reasonably informed about the status of their matters. Rules
1.3 and 1.4. Furthermore, respondent provided unauthorized financial
assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplated
litigation. Rule 1.8(e). Respondent failed to make reasonable efforts to
expedite litigation when he incorrectly allowed clients to believe actions
had been filed in their cases. Rule 3.2. By failing to turn over one of his
files after he was suspended, respondent knowingly disobeyed an obligation
under the rules of a tribunal. Rule 3.4(c). Finally, respondent failed to
make certain that nonlawyer assistants in his office complied with his
professional obligations. Rule 5.3.
Accordingly, we disbar respondent from the practice of law.
Within fifteen days of the date of this opinion, respondent shall file an
affidavit with the Clerk of Court showing that he has complied with Rule
30, RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR.
Toal, A.J., not participating