On Monday, the Supreme Court of Georgia issued the following discipline decisions:
In the Supreme Court of Georgia
Decided: January 7, 2013
S13Y0102. IN THE MATTER OF MORRIS P. FAIR, JR.
This disciplinary matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation of the Review Panel, recommending that the Court accept the petition of Morris P. Fair, Jr. (State Bar No. 581019) for reinstatement.
On October 4, 2010, this Court accepted Fair’s petition for voluntary discipline and imposed an indefinite suspension. In the Matter of Fair, 288 Ga. 17 (701 SE2d 160) (2010). The Court specified that the suspension would be lifted only upon Fair’s compliance with the following conditions:
1. He shows that he is no longer impaired, as that term is defined in Bar Rule 4-104;
2. He shows that he is fit to return to the practice of law;
3. He shows that the Review Panel of the State Disciplinary Board of the State Bar of Georgia finds that he has continued to receive counseling and evaluation from a certified professional, and that he has provided certification from a board certified psychiatrist indicating that he is:
a. No longer impaired; and
b. Fit to return to the practice of law;
4. He shows that the Review Panel concurs with the psychiatrist’s certification; and
5. He shows that the Review Panel finds that he has paid the judgment, fees and interest regarding the default judgment obtained by his former client Leon S. Patterson.
Id. at 17-18.
Fair’s petition for reinstatement attached letters from his psychiatrist and a licensed professional counselor indicating that Fair is functioning within the community, is psychiatrically stable, and is fit to return to the practice of law. Fair also attached documentation showing that he had paid $4,500 to Patterson.
The State Bar filed a response indicating it had no objection to the petition. The Review Panel found that the petition satisfied the requirements for reinstatement and filed its Report with the State Bar on October 3, 2011, recommending acceptance. Thereafter the State Bar changed Fair’s status to that of an active member in good standing, although it did not file the Review Panel’s Report with this Court until almost a year later on September 25, 2012.
As it is important for this Court to ensure that any conditions it has imposed for reinstatement have been met and that the public is duly notified, the proper procedure for handling all petitions for reinstatement following indefinite suspensions or temporal suspensions with conditions is for this Court to issue an order granting or denying the petition. Accordingly, in such cases the Review Panel Report should be filed with this Court, see generally Bar Rule 4-219 of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct, prior to any action being taken with respect to a suspended attorney’s status.
Having reviewed the record, the Court agrees that Fair has met the conditions imposed for reinstatement. This Court hereby orders that Morris P. Fair, Jr.’s petition for reinstatement be granted and, given the delay in this matter, that he be reinstated as an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia, nunc pro tunc to October 3, 2011.
Petition for reinstatement granted. All the Justices concur.
In the Supreme Court of Georgia
Decided: January 7, 2013
S13Y0138. IN THE MATTER OF TONY C. JONES.
This disciplinary matter is before the Court on the petition for voluntary discipline filed by Tony C. Jones (State Bar No. 403935). Jones, who was admitted to the Bar in 1984, is currently serving an 18-month suspension. See In the Matter of Jones, 289 Ga. 835 (716 SE2d 222) (2011). He filed this petition to resolve three pending grievances and seeks the imposition of an additional six-month suspension.
In his petition Jones admits that he was paid $2,500 in a domestic relations matter, but failed to communicate with his client and ultimately abandoned the matter to the client’s detriment. In a federal criminal matter, he admits that he failed to file a notice of appeal or transcript order form as directed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and failed to respond to a show cause order regarding his dilatory conduct in handling the appeal. In connection with the third matter, he states that he was paid $1,200 to represent a client in obtaining title to property that she was awarded in her divorce; as a result, he traveled to Randolph County to review the divorce file and land records, communicated with his client, and obtained a hearing date in her case. After the client’s exhusband provided documents showing that he had conveyed the property to the client as required in the divorce decree, Jones canceled the hearing and notified his client that the deed records showed that she owned the property. He believes that he earned his fee, but is willing to submit to fee arbitration.
By this conduct Jones admits that he violated Rules 1.3, 1.4, 3.2, and 3.5 (c) of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct found in Bar Rule 4-102 (d) and acknowledges that probable cause was found to believe he violated Rule 1.16. In mitigation he offers that he should have limited his practice to those areas of law with which he was most familiar, such as criminal cases. He acknowledges that his problems were avoidable and self-inflicted, he should have maintained an adequate staff, and his actions have harmed himself, his family, the Bar, and the profession. He also states that since his suspension he has come to believe that he has suffered from burnout or other mental health problems, should have addressed the signs of mental fatigue, and should have taken time off or sought professional help.
Besides requesting an extension of his current suspension for an additional six months, Jones asks that reinstatement be conditioned on his returning the $2,500 fee to his client in the domestic relations matter, submitting the $1,200 fee in the title to property case to fee arbitration, and providing certification to the Bar’s Office of General Counsel from a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist licensed to practice in Georgia that he is fit to return to the practice of law. He states he has paid the amount as required in Jones, 289 Ga. at 837. In response, the State Bar expresses no objection to the petition, stating that the public will be adequately protected if the Court accepts the petition, extends the suspension for six months, and imposes the suggested conditions.
Having reviewed the petition and response, we agree that an additional six-month suspension is warranted. Therefore, we order that Tony C. Jones be suspended from the practice of law for an additional period of six months, for a total suspension of 24 months, effective as of the date of the initial suspension, October 3, 2011. Furthermore, Jones’s reinstatement shall be conditioned on his return of the $2,500 fee to his domestic relations client, participation in fee arbitration regarding the $1,200 fee, compliance with any award arising out of the arbitration, and certification to Bar Counsel of his fitness to practice law by a psychologist or psychiatrist licensed to practice in this State.
Petition for voluntary discipline accepted. Six-month additional suspension. All the Justices concur.