MARIETTA — The Supreme Court of Georgia on Monday disbarred a local attorney after multiple complaints were filed against her, including one allegation that she withheld part of a $125,000 settlement from a client.
Carin Astrid Burgess of Marietta, who according to the State Bar of Georgia has practiced law since 1992 after earning her law degree from the University of Georgia, was disbarred by the Supreme Court in response to six separate complaints filed by clients.
Complaints included her not paying a portion of a settlement, failing to tell a client that her divorce was finalized, not paying State Bar dues and not returning legal fees or files after not telling her client about a divorce hearing.
Disbarment was recommended despite Burgess not having a prior disciplinary history, the decision states.
But aggravating factors included “dishonest or selfish” motives, patterns of misconduct, multiple offenses, refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of her conduct and “indifference to making restitution,” the decision states.
It also says that a report by the State Bar of Georgia notes that Burgess has violated their rules 16 times.
In Burgess’ reply to the accusations, she requested a two-year suspension but it was denied.
“We find disbarment to be the appropriate sanction and hereby order that the name of Carin Astrid Burgess be removed from the rolls of persons authorized to practice law in the State of Georgia,” the high court decision concluded.
Burgess declined to comment on the decision when contacted by phone Monday afternoon.
According to Nancy Nydam with the Department of Public Health, Burgess was an attorney for the state department until Sept. 15 of this year, but she said they had no knowledge of any issues between Burgess and the State Bar.
Burgess’ LinkedIn profile states that she had worked at the state department since 2010. Prior to that, she ran her own firm in Marietta and was also an attorney with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office before that.
Paula Frederick, an attorney with the State Bar of Georgia, said it is rare for a lawyer to be disbarred.
Between May 1, 2012, and April 30, 2013, there were 28 lawyers disbarred in Georgia, and the State Bar recorded having 42,500 members during that same time period. There were 29 lawyers disbarred in 2011-2012, and 33 in 2010-2011.
There are opportunities for disbarred attorneys to practice again in Georgia if they apply for readmission five years after the date of the disbarment order, although it is rare for a formerly disbarred lawyer to be readmitted that soon.
“The applicant must go through the same process that a law school graduate goes through,” Frederick said.
This includes an attorney demonstrating that they are “fit to hold a position of trust” by submitting an application and $3,500 fee, and the disbarred attorney must pass the bar exam, which is only given twice a year.