CHARLESTON – The state Supreme Court has annulled the law license of William H. Duty of Williamson, finding he broke the rules of professional conduct 20 times.
On Nov. 25, the Justices found that he misappropriated client funds, tried to charge an excessive fee, shared a fee with a secretary, tried to obstruct the disciplinary process, falsely testified, and failed to keep disputed funds separate from his own.
Duty blamed painkiller OxyContin for his lapses in judgment.
In January, at oral arguments where he could have pleaded with the Justices to save his license, he failed to show up.
The Justices issued a unanimous opinion in February annulling his license, but at his request they withdrew the opinion and gave him a chance to change their minds.
Only one mind changed, and that didn't help Duty.
Chief Justice Spike Maynard, who participated in the decision last winter, disqualified himself from the case this fall. Maynard, like Duty, hails from Mingo County.
Putnam Circuit Judge Edward Eagloski substituted for Maynard and voted for discipline.
Senior Status Justice Thomas McHugh, substituting throughout the current term for ailing Justice Joseph Albright, also voted for discipline.
The Justices ordered Duty to pay $2,000 he owes to former client Randy Stiltner.
Duty can apply for reinstatement if he repays Stiltner, completes an ethics course and participates in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.