Legal Ethics

Suspended for Incivility: Lawyer's Indignant Letter Questioned Town Manager’s Soul

Columbia, S.C., lawyer William Gary White III fired off a letter when the town manager of Atlantic Beach, S.C., wrote the lawyer’s church client about the need for zoning compliance.

White sent his indignant letter to two owners of the church property and copied the town manager, Kenneth McIver. The missive accuses McIver of making false statements about the zoning matter, and goes on to say that the town manager “has no brains and it is questionable if he has a soul.” White doesn’t spare Atlantic Beach officials, either, describing them as “pagans” and criticizing them for “pigheadedly” causing damages to the church.

Now White has been suspended 90 days for his conduct, according to the Legal Profession Blog and In a March 8 opinion, the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered the suspension and required White to take an ethics course within six months of reinstatement.

“Respondent’s conduct in this matter reflects poorly on himself as a member of the legal profession and reflects negatively upon the profession as a whole,” the court said. “He represented to this court at oral argument that in the future he will conduct himself in accordance with the [Rules of Professional Conduct] and treat all persons in a civil, dignified, and professional manner as is expected of all members of the South Carolina Bar. We expect nothing less.”

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