01.08.15 Disbarment [Robeson County]

North Carolina State Bar Building Photo Courtesy of the North Carolina State Bar

Ertle Knox Chavis was disbarred on January 23, 2015 by the Disciplinary Hearing Commission (DHC) pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 84-28(b)(2) for violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The DHC found that Chavis violated Rule 1.15 (and its subparts 1.15-1, 1.15-2, and 1.15-3) by (1) failing to deposit client payments into the trust account and instead using those funds for his own purposes, (2) failing to promptly deposit trust funds into the general trust accounts, (3) benefiting from entrusted funds, (4) failing to properly maintain entrusted funds, (5) allowing another to benefit from entrusted funds, (6) failing to properly disburse entrusted funds, (7) depositing personal funds into the trust accounts, (8) failing to maintain sufficient funds in the trust account for the benefit of his client, (9) failing to total and reconcile individual client balances with the current general ledger balance, and (10) failing to reconcile quarterly reconciliation of his general trust account.  Chavis also engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in violation of Rule 8.4.

Furthermore, Chavis violated Rule 1.7 by placing his own interests above his client’s interest therefore constituting a concurrent conflict of interest, Rule 1.4 by failing to explain a matter to his client to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions, and Rule 5.4 by allowing a person who recommends, engages, or pays him to direct or regulate his profession judgment in rendering legal services.

The DHC concluded that due to the significant actual harm and potential harm caused to his clients as well as the fact that he made no effort to reimburse the trust account, Chavis should be disbarred and ordered to provide the North Carolina State Bar with the necessary funds to disburse all amounts due to his clients.

View the full disciplinary order below.

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