CHARLESTON – Wayne King of Clay must give up his law license for at least 60 days because he broke rules of professional conduct in borrowing from a client.
The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals suspended King Feb. 16.
King borrowed $15,000 in 2003 from a client who was a relative. According to the Lawyer Disciplinary Board, King broke all the rules on transactions with clients.
Disciplinary counsel Charles Jones III wanted to suspend King for six months, but the family situation moved the Justices to declare six months unduly severe.
King cannot apply for reinstatement until he completes 12 hours of ethics classes.
Six years ago, the Court sent him to six hours of ethics classes for similar misconduct. On that occasion the Court admonished him but did not suspend him.
His relative, identified by the Court as Mr. Boggs, wrote King a $15,000 check in return for a promissory note..
King had represented Boggs for years in a variety of legal matters. At the time of the loan King represented Boggs in a fire loss claim.
The promissory note provided interest at ten percent but it did not specify the monthly payment or the date when King would fully pay. They verbally agreed that King would pay Boggs $500 a month.
Two months after Boggs wrote the check, he filed a complaint with the disciplinary board. He tried the next week to withdraw it but the board did not let him.
In January 2006, the board charged King with conflict of interest under Rule 1.8(a) of the West Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct. Under the rule, transactions with clients must pass three tests:
* The terms must be fair and reasonable to the client, with full disclosure in writing,
* The client must have a reasonable opportunity to seek advice of independent counsel, and
* The client must consent in writing.
A subcommittee of the board's hearing panel held a hearing last June and found that King's loan failed all three tests. The board recommended to the Justices a six-month suspension, immediate restitution to Boggs, payment of the cost of proceedings and ethics classes.
The board recommended a year of supervised practice after reinstatement. The board asked the Justices to consider as an aggravating factor that King neglected to report the loan to U. S. bankruptcy court when he filed as a debtor.
King wrote to the Justices that his failure to report the loan was due to his lack of knowledge of bankruptcy proceedings. King asked the Justices to consider as mitigating factors that he intended to repay the loan and that his client was a relative whom he continued to represent.
"While we appreciate Respondent's explanations, we do not believe that they absolve him of being sanctioned for his misconduct," the Justices wrote. "However, we take stock in the client's testimony at the hearing and his request that leniency be used in fashioning a sanction."