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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

VOLUNTARY DISCIPLINE PETITION REJECTED

Georgia attorney, Jerry Boykin, filed a petition for voluntary discipline due to his neglect of three matters.  In the first matter, a client reatied Boykin to represent him in a civil case and paid his firm a total of $2,600.  Boykin, however, failed to advise his client of a court date as well as failing to appear on their behalf.  A default judgment was entered against his client, which Boykin failed to inform them of and he did not return any unearned fees. 

In another case, Boykin agreed to represent a woman in her personal injury action.  He claimed that Jackson did not provide complete answer to interrogatories and that he also failed to respond to discovery requests.  Jackson's complaint was dismissed with prejudice and Jackson subsequently filed a malpractice claim against Boykin.  Boykin entered into a consent agreement regarding the claim. 

In yet another case, Boykin agreed to represent a man in a civil case even though the client paid no fee.  Boykin, however, failed to file the case before the statute of limitations expired.  When this was discovered, the client threatened to file a complaint with the Bar, at which point Boykin executed a promissory note agreeing to pay him $38,000.  So far, Boykin has not satisfied the promissory note.  

Boykin admitted that his actions and inaction on the matters violated Rule 1.2 (consulting with client and abiding by their decisions with respect to the case and settlement); Rule 1.3 (act with reasonable diligence and promptness); Rule 1.4 (keep client reasonably informed); Rule 1.16 (upon termination of representation, lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client’s interests, such as giving reasonable notice to theclient, allowing time for employment of other counsel, surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled and refunding any advance payment of
fee that has not been earned); and 3.2 (lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client). 

In his defense, Boykin stated that he did not intentionally miss the court date in the first case, but that he honestly forgot about it as he was under a great deal of pressure due to his law partner leaving the firm with only two days notice which left Boykin with no secretary or assistant.  He also stated that he is no longer practicing law full time and he has closed his office due to an extended illness.  Boykin recommended a 6 month suspension, but the Georgia Bar urged the Court to reject this as not adequate.  In light of Boykin's previous discipline, which included a two year suspension, a public reprimand, a Review Panel reprimand, and an Investigative Panel Reprimand, the Court agreed with the Bar and rejected Boykin's petition for voluntary discipline.

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