CHARLESTON –- A Cabell County attorney faces disciplinary action by the state Supreme Court for his risque conversation with a client's wife.

The Lawyer Disciplinary Board on Nov. 4 filed a one-count statement of charges against David D. Perry of Huntington alleging six violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

According to the statement, Perry attempted to take advantage of a Mingo County man's wife while he was in jail.

A statement of charges acts as an indictment for disciplinary purposes.

Mixing business and pleasure

According to the statement, Christine Cline-Tidwell in late February 2009 contacted Perry about aiding her husband, Christopher Cline, in defending against drug related charges for which he was indicted the previous month. Following his indictment and arraignment, Susan Van Zant was appointed to represent Christopher.

In their initial conversation, Perry said he would need $7,500 plus office costs to take Christopher's case. A week later, Christine met with Perry at the parking lot of Tolsia High School, but only with $1,800.

According to the statement, Perry agreed to take it as a down payment. She agreed to make another payment of $1,200 the following week at this office.

Though she made the trip to his office on March 2, 2009, she only brought $200. However, he provided her a receipt for the $2,000 she paid, and asked her to sign a "Third Person Compensation Agreement" and "Employment Contract" that stated "the total cost of the case was to be $6,000."

According to the statement, Perry began his representation of Christopher in earnest by filing a notice of appearance later that day. Along with filing discovery motions on March 4, Perry met with Christopher at the Southwestern Regional Jail in Holden to discuss the case, and also have him sign the employment contract Christine signed a week earlier.

Also, Perry on March 9 filed a motion to continue Christopher's trial from March 24 until April 22, 2009. However, his motion was denied by Mingo Circuit Judge Michael Thornsberry on March 13.

Concurrently, Perry had a series of conversations with Christine between March 8 and 16 concerning paying the balance of the legal fees. In at least one of the calls, Perry solicited oral sex from her.

According to the statement, during one of the calls, Perry asked Christine to come to Huntington while telling Christine he "was just thinking how pretty [her] mouth looked yesterday." Also, Perry asked her, among other things, if she thought "about sucking [his] dick yesterday?"

Following a pre-trial hearing, Thornsberry reversed his prior order, and granted a brief continuance of Christopher's trial. Perry continued to work on his case.

Eventually, on April 3, 2009, Perry sent Christopher a letter informing him of a plea offer, and the balance of the legal fees was due. In the letter, Perry said the balance needed to be paid by April 6 or he would withdraw from the case.

Parting company

According to the statement, Perry on April 6 received a phone call from Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks. In the course of the call, Sparks informed Perry that Christine apparently recorded the phone calls between them.

Two days later, Perry met with Christopher at the jail, and informed him of the allegations Christine leveled against him. However, because the balance of his legal fees remained unpaid, Perry said he was withdrawing from the case.

According to the statement, Perry filed a motion to withdraw on April 10 citing "an irreparable breakdown of the attorney-client relationship." Three days later, Perry failed to appear at a hearing before Thornsberry to put his motion to withdraw on the record.

After Van Zant was re-appointed his attorney, Christopher on May 21 plead guilty to a charge of information on other charges in exchange for dismissal of the indictment against him. A month later, he filed a complaint against Perry with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

According to the statement, Perry in both the response he filed to Christopher's complaint on Aug. 31, 2009, and during a sworn statement taken on May 14, 2010, Perry denied that he ever "offered oral sex to Ms. Tidwell and that there was no phone sex during any of the telephone conversations he had with Ms. Tidwell."

However, some evidence of Perry's conversations with Christine existed as the Board, in its statement, accused him of making false representations to ODC in its investigation.

The statement accuses Perry of violating Rules dealing with conflict of interest, declining or terminating representation, impartiality and decorum in the tribunal, misconduct and Bar admission and disciplinary matters.

The Board on May 19 in Williamson held an evidentiary hearing on the statement, and is soon expected to release its findings, and suggested sanctions the Court take against him.

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, case number 10-4006

More News