Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Georgia Supreme Court reprimands Democratic Party chairman for ethics violations

Posted By on Tue, May 21, 2013 at 5:13 PM

Mike Berlon speaks to Democratic supporters on election night last year
  • Max Blau/CL File
  • Mike Berlon speaks to Democratic supporters on election night last year
The Georgia Supreme Court yesterday issued a legal reprimand against Democratic Party of Georgia Chairman Mike Berlon following two ethics rules he broke while representing a former client.

The Loganville lawyer, who chalks the matter up to a minor disagreement, says he asked Georgia's highest court to issue the reprimand, considered the least severe punishment for lawyers who violate State Bar of Georgia rules. The state Supreme Court approved the request because Berlon, a member of the bar since 1993, "had no prior disciplinary sanctions," according to court documents.

Berlon says he was "surprised" by the media's reaction to the news, as he's been dealing with the complaint for several years. He tells CL he accepts responsibility but thinks that the court's decision showed that the complaint wasn't that serious and won't affect his work for Georgia Democrats. "This has been going on from a lot of years," says Berlon. "I'm glad it's resolved."

From 2004 to 2009, Berlon represented Richard Rauch in a child custody battle. According to the complaint, he didn't file an action for a change of custody at his client's request and failed "to maintain truthful communication" with Rauch on the matter.

The court's reprimand doesn't prohibit Berlon from practicing the law. However, he was recently suspended, the AJC reports, for failing to "respond to a State Bar of Georgia notice of investigation in another case, the details of which remain confidential." According to the paper, the bar recently asked a court to lift that suspension.

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