Charlotte Lawyer Avoids Suspension Despite Eighth State Bar Encounter for False Drama Sharing

Charlotte Lawyer Avoids Suspension Despite Eighth State Bar Encounter for False Drama Sharing

A well-known Charlotte attorney who also happens to be the owner of the seventh most expensive house in Mecklenburg County escaped having his license suspended during his eighth State Bar disciplinary action.

Michael A. DeMayo was accused last year, according to court filings, of spreading untrue rumors to a customer who planned to follow the attorney after he left DeMayo’s practice about a former colleague’s legal troubles, which included a divorce, a custody dispute, and an ex-wife’s new lover.

DeMayo disputed the case after the Bar’s Disciplinary Hearing Commission suspended his legal license for a year in January 2023.

In a three-judge panel’s unanimous judgment on Tuesday, an appeals court in North Carolina dismissed the lawsuit. They concluded that even while the evidence demonstrated that DeMayo’s remarks were “incorrect,” it did not “establish (DeMayo) knew these statements were incorrect.”

Charlotte Lawyer Avoids Suspension Despite Eighth State Bar Encounter for False Drama Sharing (1)
DeMayo previously told The Charlotte Observer, “I strongly disagree with these findings, even though I respect the process under which the North Carolina State Bar and DHC regulate attorneys.” “I did not transgress any Professional Conduct Rules.”

After overpaying her by $5,000, Michael DeMayo’s legal practice attempted to have her arrested.

Eighth Discipline under the State Bar for DeMayo 

Ryan Valente ended his employment at Demayo Law Offices in May 2020. According to court records, two days later, one of his clients asked that the office forward her file to Valente. She said that he will always be her attorney.

Let’s discuss, DeMayo asked.

Email correspondence from him stated, “I must discuss a few items related and unrelated to your inquiries and will potentially hurt the outcome of your case,” according to court records.

Recognize that while I have no wish to influence or influence the person who ends up representing you, I do have a professional and ethical duty to share some information regarding your case.

After she consented to meet, DeMayo allegedly strayed into Valente’s private life, as heard on tape:

“I have no idea what transpired with him. There was a divorce, he remarked, according to a recording of the WebEx conference. I don’t want to get into his personal life. “A custody existed. A remarriage occurred. We frequently face up against defense attorneys who had an ex-wife courting them. I’m sure that all of these things had some effect on his output, but I still care about my employees.

DeMayo asked for 85% of the $196,313.68 in attorney costs after the client’s case was settled, with Valente serving as her attorney. Court records state that this was predicated on Valente’s agreement with the company.

Court records state that Valente threatened to “invoke the doctrine of unclean hands” if DeMayo went after the fees. According to him, DeMayo broke the Rules of Professional Conduct.

DeMayo responded, “You are sadly mistaken as to mentioning your circumstances to this or any client.” I had no idea how serious and complicated your issues were, but they would never have been discussed or used as conversation starters with anyone, much less a customer.

According to Bloomberg Law, “the doctrine of unclean hands” prohibits redress where the person seeking the court’s assistance or relief has engaged in misbehavior or unethical behavior.

Pending the resolution of DeMayo’s appeal, the bar’s order suspending his license for a year—which was later changed to put him on two years of probation—was postponed.

This was the eighth public reprimand of DeMayo by the legal watchdog since 1999. Others talked about unlawful direct mail solicitations, deceptive advertising, and customer recruiting attempts that involved “using intimidation, coercion, or threats.”

The second most recent occurrence was in 2019, and according to the court document, DeMayo was censured for threatening to have a customer arrested if she did not promptly return a $4,900 overpayment that she had received from DeMayo’s firm.

The State Bar cites well-known Charlotte lawyer Michael DeMayo for unethical behavior once more.

NC Lawyer Grievances 

Any attorney can have complaints about them submitted to the State Bar, which is typically how people voice their concerns. A lawyer from the Bar looks into it after it’s submitted.

The News & Observer has revealed that most complaints go unanswered because they fail to point out a specific violation of the law or because the accused lawyer refutes the allegations.

Nonetheless, complaints against lawyers have climbed while discipline has decreased in recent years, according to State Bar statistics.

A booming North Carolina saw a nine-year surge in complaints, or grievances, from 1,222 in 2014 to 1,504 in 2023, according to The News & Observer.

2014 saw the resolution of 28 complaints through public discipline and 33 through private discipline. Thirty-four cases were resolved with discipline by the Disciplinary Hearing Commission.

Those figures fell in 2023. Twenty complaints were settled by written, public sanctions, and eighteen through private ones. Fourteen cases were decided with discipline by the Disciplinary Hearing Commission.

The State Bar Review Committee, which was created under provisions in the state budget drafted by Republicans, said last month that attorneys should be shielded from disciplinary actions.

Defense attorneys made proposals to the committee members at the most recent meeting on February 9; among them was the creation of a system by the N.C. State Bar to remove some public disciplinary proceedings against attorneys from the public record. Additionally, they requested that those who lodge complaints about attorneys receive less information.

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