Justice Blackwell reminds lawyers of when they can lend to clients
4:45 pm, September 23rd, 2013
Among several disciplinary actions approved by the Georgia Supreme Court today, one drew a four-page special concurrence—not because of the severity of the sanction or the violation but rather its topic.
The high court approved a petition for voluntary discipline filed by lawyer Jack O. Morse, who admitted to violating Georgia Rule of Professional Conduct 1.8, which prohibits lawyers from providing financial assistance to clients in connection with pending or contemplated litigation. Morse’s sanction was a reprimand.
Morse, who has been a member of the bar since 1972, said he lent a client $1,400 so the client, whom he was representing in a personal injury claim, could avoid foreclosure and possible jail time for his violation of probation.
The high court found that while Morse was involved in three prior disciplinary actions, including a reprimand for a similar violation, he had not had a disciplinary matter come up “for an extended period of time.” His last disciplinary action was a reprimand in 1998.
While the per curiam decision regarding Morse’ case was unanimous, Justice Keith Blackwell penned a concurrence to remind the public that not every instance of a lawyer giving money to a client is a violation.
“Lawyers can be generous, and it is not uncommon for lawyers to help out their kind, their friends, and their neighbors,” Blackwell wrote. Read more »