A Myrtle Beach-area attorney has been suspended from practicing law for three years as part of an agreement about misconduct since 2008 involving several lawsuits, probate court matters and post-conviction relief actions, according to a state Supreme Court opinion filed Wednesday.
Justices ordered James Marshall Biddle to be suspended for three years, pay the costs incurred in the investigation and prosecution of the matter within 30 days and complete an ethics program before he can file for reinstatement, according to the order.
If Biddle seeks to be reinstated as a lawyer, he must hire a law office management adviser approved by the Commission on Lawyer Conduct and complete filings with that adviser, according to the order. Biddle also must meet with the adviser once every three months for two years and a report must be filed after those meetings.
Biddle could not be immediately reached Wednesday for comment.
In the 11-page opinion, justices addressed eight separate issues involving Biddle and his practice that occurred in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The issues included:
▪ Biddle failing to provide competent representation to his clients;
▪ keeping his clients informed of statuses and requests for information;
▪ providing rate fee and expenses to clients;
▪ expediting litigation consistent with the client’s interest;
▪ not making false statements or concealing material;
▪ and failing to respond for information from disciplinary authority.
Examples cited as facts in the opinion include Biddle representing someone in a post-conviction relief action and he “failed to respond to the Supreme Court and his client’s appeal was dismissed.”
An Horry County Probate Court judge found Biddle in contempt of court for failing to respond and issued a civil fine of $500 in a case involving a client from 2011 in the matter, according to the opinion.
In a separate probate court matter, a woman contacted Biddle in August 2012 for him to represent her in an estate issue. The court found that Biddle “routinely ignored her inquiries” and lied about receiving an email from the woman about the case and never filed a petition or set up a hearing in the matter.
Other matters included Biddle failing to file a lawsuit against the City of Conway about development in a neighborhood and failed to help a man being sued because someone forged his name for $5,588.
According to Biddle’s biography on his website, Biddle Law Firm, he was born in Conway and his family has been in the real estate development business for more than 150 years in Horry County. Biddle attended the University of South Carolina where he received his undergraduate degree in real estate and management in 1998 and his law degree in 2001.
Biddle is a member of the Horry County, South Carolina and American bar associations, according to his biography. He also is a former member of the board of directors for Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc. He is married with two children.
A lawsuit was filed against Biddle in 2013 by Alvin Shuman, a casino boat owner, that alleged Biddle failed to repay a loan that amounted to nearly $100,000.
Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or on Twitter @tonyaroot.