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In re Belding

Supreme Court of South Carolina
589 S.E.2d 197 (2003)


Facts

Todd Hunnicutt and Elizabeth Hunnicutt were married and having marital difficulties. Mr. Hunnicutt hired Belding (defendant), an attorney, to create fake divorce documents to shock Mrs. Hunnicutt into fixing the marriage. Belding created false legal documents, including a divorce complaint, a consent order to change venue, a letter to a judge, and interrogatories. Belding signed another attorney’s name on documents that purported be from Mrs. Hunnicutt’s attorney. And Belding signed a real judge’s name on the fake consent order. The documents were never presented to Mrs. Hunnicutt, but Mrs. Hunnicutt found the documents in the trunk of Mr. Hunnicutt’s car. In a separate case, Jennifer Carmen hired Belding to file a claim for increased child support payments from Mrs. Carmen’s ex-husband, Mark Carmen. The court issued a notice changing the hearing date in the case, but Belding did not inform Mrs. Carmen of the change and did not show up at the hearing. Subsequently, opposing counsel offered to settle the case, and Belding accepted the offer without consulting Mrs. Carmen. Belding’s conduct was referred to the Commission on Lawyer Conduct. The Attorney General (plaintiff) joined the Hunnicutt and Carmen cases and issued formal charges of lawyer misconduct against Belding.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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