The South Carolina Supreme Court has disbarred a lawyer who, while suspended from practice, posed as an attorney who had clerked at the wrongdoer’s former firm.
William Boyd was stripped of his law license on August 29 after South Carolina’s high court found that he had violated a multitude of ethics rules beginning in June 2010.
Besides forging documents in the name of a dead woman and failing to file clients’ court papers, Boyd assumed the identity of another lawyer, orchestrating a scam that included printing phony letterhead and appearing at a worker’s compensation hearing under the assumed name, the court said.
Among the ethics violations, the court found that Boyd "polluted" the administration of justice, engaged in dishonesty and deceit, and brought the profession into disrepute. He admitted to the conduct and violations.
"If anybody had done the things I did, they should be disbarred," Boyd, 37, said in a telephone interview. "I was abusing alcohol and drugs very heavily." Boyd said that he has gone through addiction rehabilitation and has been drug- and alcohol-free for more than a year.
He began posing as the other attorney after he was suspended from practice for six months in August 2010 for failing to pursue a foreclosure action on behalf of a client. "Richard Thomas Roe" is a pseudonym that the South Carolina Supreme Court used in its decision to identify the man whose identity Boyd assumed. The actual name of the attorney the court did not disclose. Boyd had worked at a law firm with Roe, who was a law student at the time.
During Boyd’s suspension, he began representing, under the name of Tom Roe, a man who had a matter before the state’s worker’s compensation commission, the court said. In the course of that matter, Boyd represented himself as a graduate of Charleston School of Law and provided the bar number of Richard Thomas Roe. Boyd is a graduate of Appalachian School of Law.
He also sent opposing counsel a letter on letterhead with "Roe Law, LLC" at the top, the court said. The address on the letterhead was Boyd’s home address and the phone number was his cell number. He signed the letter as Tom Roe and later signed settlement papers on behalf of the client as Tom Roe. At the same time, Boyd contacted the South Carolina State Bar Association, identified himself as Tom Roe and requested a change-of-address form.
The court, in accepting the discipline by consent reached between Boyd and the Office of Disciplinary counsel, applied his disbarment retroactively, effective in July 2011.
Boyd said he is now a cabinetmaker. "I like it. It’s a lot less stressful," he said.
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