Family court attorney gets public reprimand for inaccurate client affidavit

Posted Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 by Gregory Forman
Filed under Of Interest to Family Law Attorneys, Rules of Professional (Lawyer) Conduct, South Carolina Appellate Decisions, South Carolina Specific

In what should put chills in my fellow family law attorneys’ spines, on July 2, 2014, a South Carolina family law attorney was publicly reprimanded by the South Carolina Supreme Court in the case of In Re. Massey, 408 S.C. 483, 759 S.E.2d 433 (2014), for submitting an inaccurate affidavit of his client at a temporary hearing. This attorney’s mistake seems pretty innocent to me.

It appears the attorney prepared an affidavit for his client for a hearing scheduled for July 8, 2013. In that affidavit the client represented that the child had been living with him since June 6, 2013. The child resumed living with mother on July 4, 2013 and the July 8, 2013 hearing was continued to September 3, 2013 when the mother could not be served in time. This attorney believed his client had modified the affidavit before the new hearing date but he was mistaken.

I’d like to know the date the client executed his affidavit. If it was executed before July 4, 2013, the affidavit was accurate when executed and the court could look at the date of execution to determine whether this attorney had submitted an inaccurate affidavit to the court. If father’s affidavit was executed prior to July 4, 2013, I don’t see the representation as a misstatement, so much as a statement that was true at the time it was made but was no longer true when subsequent events occurred.

Attorneys collect affidavits days, even weeks, before they are submitted to the court at temporary hearings. If attorneys are going to be publicly reprimanded for inaccurate submissions in temporary hearing affidavits, it should be due to a clear and material inaccuracy at the time of the affidavit’s execution and not due to a failure to insure facts hadn’t changed between the date of the affidavit and the date of the hearing.

5 thoughts on Family court attorney gets public reprimand for inaccurate client affidavit

  1. All the more reason for an attorney not to simply rubber-stamp an affidavit from a client. I see it happen a lot: attorneys submitting affidavits exactly as received from clients — typographical errors, inaccuracies, and all.

    That said, if there were to be a public reprimand any time an inaccuracy was submitted in a sworn affidavit, the Supreme Court would be earning overtime. It is sad how much abject falsity finds its way into sworn documents, unsupported prejudicial allegations which perhaps help to advance a party’s cause in the short term at a hearing on a contemporaneously filed Motion for Temporary Relief, but generally hurt that party in the long run.

  2. Anne Frances Bleecker says:

    By filing a false affidavit, a lawyer violates her ethical duty of candor to the tribunal. The mistake was serious and would have been simple to cure. The lawyer had an absolute duty to edit the affidavit and make sure that it was accurate. The public reprimand is a reminder to all of us about about our duties.

  3. People hire attorneys with great expectations for the most important decision of their lives, it is completely lawyer’s responsibility to fulfill their desire by producing the accurate affidavit with desired changes to the original one.

  4. Dawn Richardson says:

    I am a proud grandmother and do everything in my power to help my single mom daughter and my precious grand daughter. I am from Rochester ,MN . My daughter is fighting a terrible up hill battle with the biological father or her baby. The father has vowed he will not pay support! And as of now, very little.. My daughter is a nursing student at RCTC and a single mom . She has spent along with myself over 18000. dollars on attorney fees! Brooklyn is 2 years old(granddaughter). The father openly states and follows through” I will break you financially through attorney fees for making me pay support” Joseph is 20 years old. He was mad Christina did not abort the baby and has had nothing to do with positive parenting. On Aug.13 2014 Steven Youngquist Roch.,MN gave my daughter a notice to quit.The pre trial date is Aug. 18, 2014. We are out of money and have no way to hire new attorney. Legal aid is backed up. Christina Wrote a plea letter and a parenting time and guidelines of respectful interaction around brooklyn to Chris Dickie-Joseph’s lawyer and to Judge Jody Williamson of Dodge co. Court, Mantorville, MN In this pea Christina states her layer quit less than two days prior to hearing and of no fault of Christina-he simply stated”I am quitting my practice” He was prev. paid. Joseph the bio-father, is sueing for sole custody and says his dad will raise the baby, so he won’t have to pay support. This is what we hear ……..as no motions have been filed ?and my daughter has no idea what to expect. I need to mention, the response from the Dodge Co. Judge on Christina’s not having a lawyer and to postpone the pretrial so she could try to find an attorney …..yes, you guessed it No!and Chris Dickie’s office said no to parenting time they want to continue this financial deprivation until it breaks Christina -literly! Christina has no constitutional rights! The judge said she can just go into court alone! So, as of right now, we have no idea what will happen to our precious grand daughter. Christina continues to have a strong faith, I know how many lies Joseph and Chris Dickie have gotten by with and the Judge continues to turn a blind eye. I guess if you have money you can steal someone’s baby from them. Joseph claims Christina is preventing his parent time yet he refuses to show up-proof in tex mess, or his father shows up and swears the “F” word during the exchange to Christina and Brooklyn -I have tape recording of this.visits take place at access center for more proof -no show, only tex mess “my father watches Brooklyn while I work” proof. Joseph wants nothing to do with parenting he just doesn’t want to pay support. Joseph has a long criminal record. Christina would not need to seek support but she is trying to finish school as LPN so she can provide for her baby and does receive asst. Joseph is in arrears for child support but yet his attorney gets paid ? I know no one cares and or can help my daughter but just think about if this was your precious granddaughter and daughter, I would not wish this on my worst enemy. Only God can help us . Please pray for us on Aug. 18, 2014 10 am Mantorville MN court house .

    1. Paige Tipton says:

      Dawn,

      I am in the same situation as your daughter. No lawyer, ex trying to take me for anything I have left, lies everywhere whichever way to the court, demands child support, refuses to work anything out. Please I am interested to know the outcome of her case or any advice you could provide me. I am in this position because I moved to charleston for a better job and my childs father did not return my child to me from greenville, sc. So I seeked police force and the judge at the time disapproved of my action and gave temporary custody to the father. Recently there was a molestation case made upon the father, that has been unfounded category 3. No one is listening to my daughter and the court sent her back to her father. This case has been over a year and I am still fighting!! Please contact me at allymommy1014@gmail.com. My prayers go out to you, Christina, and Brooklyn.

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