Lawyer: S.C. still failing rural schools (copy) (copy) (copy)

The South Carolina Supreme Court. File

A veteran family law attorney in North Charleston received a three-year suspension Wednesday after the S.C. Supreme Court determined he had withheld services and payments from several clients whom he had left in the lurch.

Frampton Durban, who once served as the state Department of Social Services' chief attorney in Charleston County, was accused of deserting five clients by packing up his West Montague Avenue office, leaving town with no forwarding address and ignoring their calls.

He later blew off a summons to appear before the state court system's disciplinary office and ignored a subpoena for several case files, according to a court order.

Frampton Durban

Frampton Durban 

Durban had been placed on an interim suspension when the complaints surfaced in 2016, and the Supreme Court credited that down time toward the three-year penalty imposed on him Wednesday. The former Mount Pleasant resident could not immediately be reached for comment on the decision.

Durban, a lawyer since 1975, went into private practice in 2012 after DSS fired him from his $78,000 a-year job. He had been accused of double-dipping by teaching courses at Trident Technical College on state time. The agency also said he lied to his superiors, engaged in forgery and improperly used his state vehicle and other resources.

Durban denied those allegations and insisted he had been targeted for criticizing agency policies.

The most recent allegations  accuse Durban of ignoring calls and emails from clients who had hired him to represent them in cases involving divorce, child custody, abuse allegations and other matters. Durban disappeared in the midst of one divorce proceeding, failed to turn over key paperwork and a refund to another client, and performed no work at all for a third client who had paid him $1,500, the order stated.

When finally reached by the court system's Office of Disciplinary Counsel in the spring of 2016, Durban defended some of his actions and pledged to cooperate with investigators. But he failed to show for a meeting in which he was to answer questions under oath and surrender documents. He then ignored follow-up attempts to reach him, the order stated.

In addition his suspension, Durban has been ordered to pay $7,633 owed to clients within 30 days, and he must compensate the state for the unspecified cost of the investigation and disciplinary proceeding stemming from his actions. He also must complete classes on legal ethics, trust accounts and law office management.

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Reach Glenn Smith at 843-937-5556. Follow him on Twitter @glennsmith5.

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