THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
In the Matter of Harry
C. Brown, Sr., Respondent.
Opinion No. 25012
Heard October 6, 1999 - Filed November 8, 1999
Henry B. Richardson, Jr., and Senior Assistant
Attorney General Nathan Kaminski, Jr., of
Columbia, for Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
R. Thayer Rivers, Jr., of Ridgeland, for respondent.
PER CURIAM: In this attorney grievance matter, Harry C.
Brown, Sr., (respondent) is charged with engaging in misconduct in violation
of various provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct contained in Rule
407, SCACR, and the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement contained
in Rule 413, SCACR.
As probate judge for Jasper County, respondent collected fees for
performing marriage ceremonies and retained those fees as personal
compensation. This Court found the practice violated the Code of Judicial
Conduct and ordered respondent "not to personally retain any further
compensation for performing marriages" and to disgorge to the Jasper
County Treasurer part of the compensation he received for performing
marriages. In the Matter of Brown, S.C. Sup. Ct. Order dated December 18,
IN THE MATTER OF BROWN
Despite this Court's order, respondent continued to retain, as
personal compensation, fees for performing marriages. This Court placed
respondent on interim suspension both as a lawyer and from his duties as a
probate judge. In the Matter of Brown, 329 S.C. 309, 494 S.E.2d 812 (1997).
On the same day, this Court issued a rule to show cause why respondent
should not be held in contempt.
This Court then found that respondent willfully violated the
December 18, 1996, order and held respondent in civil and criminal
contempt. In the Matter of Brown, 333 S.C. 414, 511 S.E.2d 351 (1998).
Respondent subsequently resigned from his position as a probate judge. 1
After a hearing, a subpanel of the Commission of Lawyer
Conduct recommended that respondent receive a definite suspension of one
year and be assessed the costs associated with the hearing. The hearing
panel adopted the subpanel's report. Respondent initially filed a brief in
opposition to this recommendation; however, he later filed petitions to
withdraw his brief and join in the recommendations of the panels and for
substitution of counsel. These petitions were granted on September 22,
Respondent's convictions for civil and criminal contempt
constitute misconduct under both the Rules of Professional Conduct and the
Rules of Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement.
In particular, respondent violated the following provisions of the
Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 407, SCACR: Rule 8.4(a) (violating the
Rules of Professional Conduct); Rule 8.4(b) (committing a criminal act that
reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a
lawyer); Rule 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit,
or misrepresentation); and Rule 8.4(e) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the
administration of justice).
1 As a result of these convictions, respondent, in his capacity as a
probate judge, received a public reprimand from this Court on January 25,
1999. In the Matter of Brown, 334 S.C. 44, 512 S.E.2d 114 (1999).
IN THE MATTER OF BROWN
Further, respondent's conduct violated the following provisions of
the Rules of Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement, Rule 413, SCACR: Rule
7(a)(4) (being convicted of a crime of moral turpitude or a serious crime);
Rule 7(a)(5) (engaging in conduct tending to pollute the administration of
justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into, disrepute); Rule
7(a)(6) (violating the oath taken upon admission to practice law); and Rule
7(a)(7) (violating a valid court order).
We find respondent's misconduct warrants a definite suspension
of eighteen months. Accordingly, respondent is suspended for eighteen
months, retroactive to December 18, 1997, the date of his interim
suspension. Respondent is also assessed costs of the hearing in the amount