Supreme Court Courts in Georgia 1 Lawyer

Supreme Court in Georgia and the Appeal Building Court. Photo: John Disney / ALM Supreme Court in Georgia and the Appeal Building Court. Photo: John Disney / ALM

The Supreme Court in Georgia issued the following solicitor discipline on Monday: t

In the Supreme Court in Georgia

Decision: April 15, 2019



Respondent Melody Yvonne Cherry (Bar State No. 123395) renewed a petition on voluntary discipline pursuant to Rule Bar 4-227 (b) (2) to resolve two disciplinary matters until this Court rejected her initial petition seeking reprimand. public. look About Cherry, 304 Ga. 836 (822 SE2d 823) (2019) (“Cherry I”). As we rejected Cherry's earlier petition, we noted that, as there was no information about whether a doctor who had filed a complaint in its entirety, “we cannot determine whether the proposed intention is these two materials are reasonable. ”Id. at 840. The renewal petition states that Cherry paid the doctor's bill in full, and that she again seeks a public reprimand for her breaches of Rules 1.15 (I) (b), 4.1, and 8.4 (a) (4) Rules. Professional Transport of Georgia found in Rule 4-102 (d). The State Bar supports the petition.

As set out in Cherry I:

Docket No. 7135 State Disciplinary Board

Regarding Docket No. 7135 of the State Disciplinary Board (“SDB”), Cherry, who joined the State Bar in 1992, admits that a client had held it in 2015 to represent him in a personal injury claim arising from an incident that occurred. on 24 May, 2015. As some people were injured in the accident, the insurance coverage limits under the policy were not sufficient to settle all claims, and the client was unable to quantify what he believed to be full compensation for injuries and special receive damages. Cherry filed a suit on behalf of the client, and after some discoveries the claim was settled in September 2016 for a gross amount of $ 16,300. Cherry was aware at that time that a hospital had claimed a lien against the claim and therefore had only limited disbursement to her client. In February 2017, however, after the hospital informed Cherry that her lien was released, Cherry prepared a settlement statement which showed the client's wishes to directly pay the other funds, following attorney fees. reduction, costs and loan repayment of litigation without the exclusion of certain healthcare providers, including a doctor who knew Cherry had been provided with chiropody care for her client. By signing the settlement statement, the client agreed that he would be "responsible for all outstanding medical expenses and" t [that he would] the same. ”Afterwards, Cherry paid the net proceeds of settlement with her client.

Cherry acknowledges, however, that she sent a letter to the doctor who provided chiropody care to the client in June 2015 informing him of “any medical expenses incurred on behalf of the client. [her client] at the time of settlement of this case ”and“ t[s]assistance funds will be forwarded to your office once this material has been finalized. ”The factual statement from the Bar suggests that the doctor provided medical treatment to the client depending on Cherry's written confirmation that medical costs incurred by the client would be protected at the time the case was settled and that funds would be passed on to the doctor. the case will be completed. The Bar's response indicates that the doctor submitted a bill of $ 2,444 for services to the client. The Bar's reply also refers to a complaint filed by the doctor, but the record does not contain a copy of that complaint. Cherry admits that she contravened Rule 1.15 (I) (b) in accordance with the guidance of her client at the time of payment without regard to the doctor's interests and practices.1 Georgia Professional Conduct Rules.

State Disciplinary Board Slip 7136

About SDB Docket No. 7136, Cherry admits that a woman contacted her on 19 April 2017 on a car accident on April 18, 2017, providing a woman's address, the driver's fault name, a fault driver insurance company, and the number of the claim assigned. That same day, Cherry sent a letter of representation to the insurance company, referring to the lady who asked her as “my client” and asking for information about liability insurance cover that might be applicable. The letter considered that the woman's signature, noted by Cherry's employee, but the woman did not sign the letter and Cherry's employee gave the signature note at Cherry's direction. Cherry admits that she is responsible for the false signature and that she intended the insurance company to rely on the notarial signature to provide the information requested, which Cherry intended to help the woman resolve personal injury claims. Maybe an early email from the woman gave a base for Cherry to believe that the lady would be officially employed soon, but Cherry didn't hear more until mid-May when an attorney asked , on behalf of the woman, advised Cherry that the woman had never hired Cherry or authorized her to communicate with the liability insurer. Cherry immediately informed the insurance company that she had no longer represented the woman, but acknowledges that she breached Rules 4.1 by preparing and sending a letter.2 and 8.4 (a) (4) t3 Georgia Professional Conduct Rules

Cherry I, 302 Ga with 836-838.

As mentioned in Cherry I, factors associated with control mitigation supported by the record include a lack of prior disciplinary history; lack of selfish or dishonest movement; a timely effort to resolve the impact of their misconduct; a co-operative attitude to disciplinary proceedings; and good character and otherwise good reputation in the community. See ABA Standards for Imposition of Sanctions on lawyers 9.32. We note as factors in aggravation that Cherry has significant experience in the practice of law and that this issue involves numerous offenses. See id. at 9.22.

Each of the three Rules that Cherry admits has a maximum penalty dissolved, but in view of her full payment of her client's doctor's bill and the mitigating circumstances noted, we agree that a public reprimand would be consistent with previous Court decisions. See, m. Sh., About Davis, 291. 169 (728 SE2d 548) (2012) (the Review Panel contravenes two breaches of Rule 8.4 (a) (4) when a solicitor signed the name of the clients twice and signed a signature on documents filed in the civil case of the client); About Swain, 290 Ga. 678 (725 SE2d 244) (2012) (public reprimand for breach of Rules 1.2 (d) and 8.4 (a) (4) where the signatures of clients on court documents were noted outside the presence of the client). See also About Mathis, 286 Ga. 728 (691 SE2d 202) (2010) (admission of Review Panel for infringements of Rules 1.3, 1.4, and 8.4 (a) (4)) for failure to communicate with the client or to file his petition promptly t to change custody, and then, finally, the petition was filed for the verification of a signed client, although the client signed the verification without ever reading or seeing the petition).

Accordingly, we accept Cherry's renewed petition on voluntary discipline and direct that it be administered in open court pursuant to Bar Rules 4-102 (b) (3) and 4-220 (c) and (d) for her breaches. of Rules 1.15 (I) (b), 4.1 and 8.4 (a) (4).

A petition was accepted for a voluntary discipline. Public reprimand. All Judges agree.

1 Rule 1.15 (I) relates to the safe custody of property, and subsection (b) in a relevant section states: t

For the purposes of this Rule, a lawyer may not disregard the interest of a third party in funds or other property held by the lawyer if: 1. the lawyer is known to the interest, and 2. the interest based on one of the following: t

i. Statutory Lian; ii. Final judgment focusing on the disposal of such funds or property; or iii. Agreement in writing by the client or solicitor on behalf of the client guaranteeing payment for that funds or property.

2 Rule 4.1 in a relevant section states: t

When a client represents, a lawyer will not: a. making a false statement on a material fact or fact with a third person; or b. failure to disclose a material fact to a third person where disclosure is necessary to assist a criminal or fraudulent act by a client, unless disclosure is necessary to assist a criminal or fraudulent act of a client….

3 Rule 8.4 (a) (4) states that “engaging in professional conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, fraud or misrepresentation…” is a breach of the Rules for a solicitor.

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