Legal Ethics

Lawyer Who Admitted Trying to Hire a Hit Man Used Postdated Check, Disbarment Opinion Says

A South Carolina lawyer sentenced last year to three years in prison for trying to hire a hit man to kill a colleague used a postdated check in the endeavor, according to an opinion by the state supreme court.

The lawyer, Irby Walker of Conway, S.C., was disbarred by consent, the Legal Profession Blog reports. According to the opinion imposing disbarment, Walker paid with a post-dated check because he did not have sufficient funds in his account. The hit man was actually an undercover officer, according to allegations in the criminal case against Walker.

Walker pleaded guilty last August to solicitation to commit a felony and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, suspended to three years in prison and five years of probation if he completes the lesser sentence successfully. He was accused of trying to kill Conway lawyer Doug Thornton, who had shared office space with him. Thornton represented the wife in a domestic matter and Walker represented the husband.

The opinion noted other ethics violations, including failure to reconcile trust accounts and to adequately supervise staff. Those ethics charges stem from alleged embezzlement by Walker’s real-estate paralegal. The full account of her embezzlement is unknown, the opinion says, but it includes $145,500 used to pay off the paralegal’s American Express account, $11,600 wired to her husband’s business, and $36,000 in checks written to herself and her husband.

Several lawyers who testified for Walker in the criminal case said he began to change after firing the paralegal because of the suspected embezzlement.

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