April 10, 2013 South Carolina Supreme Court published opinions

In the Matter of Wilton Darnell Newton

Newton improperly removed money from his client trust fund and placed it in his operating account. To cover the shortfall, he borrowed money from a different client without proper documentation or advising client to seek outside legal advice. He also deposit unearned fees into his operating account and failed to communicate in a different matter. He agreed to be disbarred and to reimburse the clients harmed by his actions. The Court agreed that discipline was required, disbarred Nelson and ordered the restitution –plus payment of the coasts of the investigation. The court refused to make the order of disbarment retroactive to the date of interim suspension.

In the Matter of Kana Rahman Johnson

Johnson had a sexual relationship with a client in a divorce action. He agreed to discipline and the court publicly reprimanded him, ordered him to pay the costs of the investigation and ordered him to complete the legal and practice ethics school.

In the Matter of the Care and Treatment of Thomas S.

Thomas was adjudicated delinquent based on sexual abuse of another minor. When declared eligible for release, he was evaluated under South Carolina’s violent sexual offender act. At the hearing, the expert testified that Thomas did not meet the criteria and a lay witness social worker was allowed to testify that Thomas did meet the criteria. Thomas was found to be a sexually violent offender by the jury and this finding was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. The Court reversed holding that the lay witness was improperly allowed to offer expert testimony despite not being an expert in the area and having no personal knowledge of Thomas or his offense. As her improperly admitted testimony was the sole evidence supporting the jury’s finding, the case was remanded of further proceedings.

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