Lawyer suspended for 'incendiary' Facebook posts must complete diversity education
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A South Carolina lawyer has been suspended for six months for Facebook posts about George Floyd and women’s tattoos that are “expressly incendiary,” according to the South Carolina Supreme Court.
In a June 18 opinion, the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered the suspension of David Paul Traywick. He will also have to complete at least one hour of diversity education, undergo an anger management assessment, submit to an evaluation through the South Carolina Bar program Lawyers Helping Lawyers, and comply for one year with any treatment recommended by the assessments.
Traywick had admitted misconduct and consented to any sanction that is no longer than a six-month suspension. He did not raise a First Amendment challenge to discipline.
The South Carolina Office of Disciplinary Counsel had received complaints from 46 people about Traywick’s posts that were visible to the public. His Facebook profile identified himself as a lawyer and referenced his law firm.
The South Carolina Supreme Court said 12 posts by Traywick were “troubling,” but it was focusing its analysis on two of them.
Traywick posted about Floyd on June 3, 2020, a little more than a week after Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck. Traywick wrote this about Floyd: “Here’s how much that s- - -stain’s life actually mattered: Stock futures up. Markets moved higher Monday and Tuesday. F- - - you. Unfriend me.”
Traywick posted about tattoos April 5, 2020. First, he posted his theory about tattoos and challenged his readers to “Prove me wrong. Pro tip: you can’t.”
A reader suggested that Traywick instead prove that he was right. Traywick responded: “The general statement has exceptions, such as for bikers, sailors, convicts or infantry. But these college educated, liberal suburbanites. No, the rule was written for these boring motherf- - -ers. And they are everywhere. F- – em. Especially these females, Jesus Christ!”
The South Carolina Supreme Court said the two comments warrant the suspension.
“These comments are not expressive; they are expressly incendiary. Both are statements by a lawyer on his social media account identifying him as such and listing the name of his law firm. The statements were intended to incite, and had the effect of inciting, gender and race-based conflict,” the state supreme court said.
“We are particularly concerned with the statement regarding Mr. Floyd. We find this statement was intended to incite intensified racial conflict not only in [Traywick’s] Facebook community but also in the broader community of Charleston and beyond. We hold this statement in particular tended to bring the legal profession into disrepute, violated the letter and spirit of the Lawyer’s Oath, and constitutes grounds for discipline.”
Traywick did not immediately respond to an ABA Journal email seeking comment.