Nobody’s Perfect – a Raleigh Lawyer Explains the Importance of Ethics on Newly-appointed Judges
Gov. Pat McCrory recently appointed Michael Stone as the new District Court judge of 16A, which encompasses Hoke and Scotland Counties. Stone replaced John H. Horne, Jr., who retired last July after serving as District Court judge for seven years. As yet, no date for the Raeford, NC lawyer’s swearing-in has been released.
Shortly after his appointment, however, McCrory suddenly came under fire from the State Bar. As it turned out, Stone was reprimanded for professional misconduct in 1998. WXII12.com has this report:
Records on file with Stone’s law license show he was issued a written reprimand in 1998 after he and a law partner conducted real estate closings that were handled by assistants with no lawyer present. The State Bar concluded Stone and his partner didn’t properly supervise their staff members and failed to review deeds and other important legal documents before they were filed.
According to the written reprimand recovered from the State Bar website, Stone was found to have violated Rule 3.3 and Rule 6(b)(3) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. He earned the ire of the State Bar and paid a $50 fine for it. However, McCrory’s spokesman Rick Martinez told reporters that one wrongdoing alone should not be sufficient grounds for automatic disqualification.
“When you make an appointment you look at the totality of a person, not just one particular incident,” he said. “The bottom line on the whole thing is that this occurred shortly after he got out of law school and he basically got in over his head. He learned a valuable lesson from it and his record since that time demonstrates that.”
As much as every Raleigh lawyer tries to abide by strict ethical standards and maintain a clean record at all times, we’re only human and inevitably are prone to make an occasional mistake. These mistakes, however, should serve as learning experiences and not necessarily disqualify an attorney from judicial appointment.
Having said that, the NC state bar community takes the issue of professional misconduct very seriously. Attorneys are held to the highest ethical standards.
Choosing an attorney to represent you can be a confusing, even frustrating challenge. The entire legal process often intimidates the public. While there are many resources available to locate the right attorney, a good place to start is the North Carolina State Bar to see if a lawyer under consideration has ever been formally reprimanded.
(Source: McCrory judicial choice once reprimanded by NC Bar, WXII12.com, July 21, 2014)