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TRAVIS H. CLARK, JR. v. MISSISSIPPI STATE BAR ASSOCIATION

MAY 15, 1985

TRAVIS H. CLARK, JR.
v.
MISSISSIPPI STATE BAR ASSOCIATION



EN BANC

PRATHER, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

This is an appeal from a decision of the Mississippi State Bar Complaint Tribunal wherein the appellant, Travis H. Clark, Jr., was found guilty of violating DR1-102(A)(1, 3, 4, 5 & 6); DR6-101(A)(2 & 3); DR7-101-(A)(1 & 3); DR7-102(A)(3, 4, 5, 6 & 8); DR9-102(A); DR9-102(B) of the Code of Professional Responsibility of the Mississippi State Bar and Miss. Code Ann. 73-3-35, 73-3-37. For these violations, the Tribunal imposed the sanction of disbarment.

Clark appeals, urging that the sanction of disbarment is unwarranted where considerable delay exists between the misconduct and the initiation of disciplinary proceedings.

 I.

 Appellant, a resident of Leflore County, Mississippi and member of the Mississippi State Bar, maintains a practice in

 Greenwood, Mississippi. The facts in this cause are not in dispute as the appellant, in his appearance before the tribunal, stipulated to all material facts surrounding the misconduct alleged in the complaint.

 On April 24, 1967, Riley B. Clements was appointed Conservator for his brother, Jerry Lee Clements, in cause No. 15, 285 in the Leflore County Chancery Court. On December 26, 1967, appellant Travis H. Clark, Jr., was substituted as Conservator for Jerry Lee Clements by decree of the Leflore County Chancery Court.

 Appellant timely filed the first six Annual Reports and Accounts for the conservatorship. The sixth Annual Report was filed on December 10, 1973 and showed a checking account balance of $3,485.41 on deposit in the Bank of Commerce of Greenwood, Mississippi, together with an $11,000.00 Certificate of Deposit with First Federal Savings & Loan Association of Greenwood, Mississippi.

 On December 31, 1973, appellant opened a savings account in the name of the conservatorship with Leflore Savings & Loan Association and deposited $1,000.00 in the account. On January 2, 1974, appellant deposited $2,500.00 in this savings account. On December 31, 1973, appellant purchased on behalf of the conservatorship a $10,000.00 Certificate of Deposit with Leflore Savings & Loan Association.

 On November 20, 1974, $3,650.92, the total initial deposit plus accrued interest, was withdrawn from the savings account at Leflore Savings & Loan Association and deposited into the trust account of appellant's partnership at the Bank of Commerce in Greenwood, Mississippi. These funds were immediately paid out by the Bank of Commerce of Greenwood by a check in the amount of $3,920.55 payable to Delta Building Material Co. and signed by the appellant. From December, 1974 to January, 1976 the appellant's trust account did not maintain a sufficient balance to cover the conservatorship funds. On January 13, 1976, appellant's trust account at the Bank of Commerce was closed. At no time during the period from November, 1974 until January, 1976 were the funds of the conservatorship returned to the trust account.

 Appellant filed the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh annual report and accountings. Each report reflected a balance in the savings account with Leflore Savings and Loan Association when no savings account actually existed.

 Regarding the other assets of the conservatorship, the certificate of deposit, the appellant admitted the following.

 On March 24, 1976 appellant made a personal loan in the sum of $10,000.00 from Leflore Savings & Loan Association using as collateral for the loan the Certificate of Deposit of the conservatorship. Appellant used the Certificate of Deposit of the conservatorship as collateral for his loan from March 24, 1976 through April 3, 1980, at which time the loan was paid off and the proceeds from the Certificate of Deposit withdrawn from Leflore Savings & Loan Association.

 On October 9, 1981, Riley B. Clements brother of the ward, filed a complaint against the respondent with the Committee on Complaints of the Mississippi State Bar. Appellant received a copy of the complaint on October 13, 1981. On October 23, 1981, appellant opened a Golden Savings Account with the Bank of Commerce of Greenwood, Mississippi in the name of the conservatorship and deposited therein the sum of $3,700.00. Thereafter, on October 26, 1981 appellant deposited the sum of $1,629.77 bringing the total deposit into the savings account to the sum of $5,329.77. On October 26, 1981 appellant filed an informal response to the complaint with the Mississippi State Bar. Appellant stated in his response that the funds which were alleged to have been misappropriated were in fact on deposit with the Bank of Commerce of Greenwood, Mississippi. Appellant's response included a letter dated October 26, 1981 from the Executive Vice President of the Bank of Commerce at Greenwood, Mississippi, certifying that the Bank of Commerce maintained a Golden Savings Account in the name of Travis H. Clark, Jr., as the conservator for Jerry Lee Clements and that the balance in the account was $5,329.77. This complaint was dismissed by the Committee on Complaints of the Mississippi State Bar without investigation or hearing by letter dated November 2, 1981. The funds listed in appellant's informal response to the Complaint were deposited on October 23, 1981 after receipt of the complaint and prior to the filing of appellant's informal response.

 Although the record is somewhat unclear, it appears that Riley B. Clements filed another complaint with Mississippi State Bar Committee on Complaints in 1982, which second complaint gave rise to the current formal complaint of the Mississippi State Bar. After following the proper procedures, a complaint tribunal composed of Harold W. Melvin, Ben Stone, and Tucker Buchanan heard the complaint and found the appellant guilty of violations of the disciplinary rules and the statutes and imposed the sanction of disbarment.

 II.

 The Mississippi State Bar Complaints Tribunal found the

 appellant guilty of violating the following disciplinary rules:

 DR 1-102. Misconduct

 (A) A lawyer ...


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