The Law School Authority

In Re Warlick Case Brief

Summary of In Re Warlick, 287 S.C. 380 (1985)

Relevant Facts: While preparing for a personal injury action in federal ct, the attorney hired a private investigator.  The PI was instructed to investigate the jury members, including personal contacts.  The PI questioned this method, but the atty advised the personal contacts.  The jury was selected, and three members had been personally contacted.

Legal Issue(s): Whether an attorney may be disbarred following a contempt of court charge for improper jury contact, and whether the disciplinary panel erred by failing to allow atty to present evidence concerning facts leading to conviction?

Court’s Holding: Yes, disbarment is appropriate where atty’s improper juror contact is informed or intentional.

Procedure: Following settlement, atty found in contempt; Bar recommended disbarrment but was reduced to indefinite suspension.

Law or Rule(s):

Court Rationale: The issue of whether the attorney’s contact with jurors was nonculpable was decided during the criminal proceeding, that matter has been adjudicated.  Attorney is prohibited from offering evidence inconsistent with essential elements of the crime for which he was convicted.  He was not prohibited from offering mitigating evidence, which he is clearly entitled to do.

Plaintiff’s Argument:

Defendant’s Argument: The panel’s failure to allow the atty to present evidence concerning the facts which led to the conviction for contempt, denied the atty due process.

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