SC 19436

Appellate Court


††††† Attorney Discipline; Whether Appellate Court Properly Suspended Attorney from Practice of Law, Referred Attorney to Chief Disciplinary Counsel and Dismissed Appeals Filed by Attorney.† The Appellate Court summoned Attorney Josephine Smalls Miller to appear and show cause why she should not be sanctioned in connection with her conduct in four appeals that she had filed on behalf of clients.† After the show cause hearing, the Appellate Court dismissed three of the four appeals based on Miller's failure timely to file appellate briefs, appendices and transcript order acknowledgments in violation of the rules of appellate procedure, and it granted a motion to dismiss the fourth appeal as frivolous.† The Appellate Court also found that Miller had exhibited a persistent pattern of irresponsibility in handing her professional obligations, including the filing of frivolous appeals and the failure to file, or the failure to file in an appropriate fashion, all documents and materials necessary for the perfection and prosecution of the appeals.† It further found that Miller's conduct had threatened the vital interests of her clients and consumed an inordinate amount of the court's time and her opponents' resources.† The Appellate Court noted that Miller had neither accepted personal responsibility for her conduct nor offered any assurance that she would not repeat such conduct, and it suspended Miller from practicing law before it for six months and referred the matter to the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, which investigates allegations of attorney misconduct, for further action.† Miller brings this writ of error to challenge the Appellate Courtís orders, arguing that the court improperly sanctioned her absent clear and convincing evidence that she violated any rule of professional conduct or rule of appellate procedure.† She further argues that the suspension and dismissal of the appeals constituted disproportionately harsh sanctions for her purported misconduct.† The Appellate Court responds that, in suspending Miller from the practice of law and referring her to the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, it properly exercised its inherent, statutory and rule-based authority to discipline attorneys for violating court rules and for filing frivolous appeals.† The Appellate Court also argues that Millerís challenge to the dismissal of the four appeals is not properly before the Supreme Court in this writ of error because the dismissals might have been reviewed by way of petitions for certification to the Supreme Court and because Miller is not aggrieved by the dismissals such that she has standing to challenge them.††††††† ††††††