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Lawyer- Scott 'disappointed' with added term in deal

by Jim Fisher

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- Less than 72 hours before a scheduled hearing on Harrison County Prosecutor John Scott's violations of professional conduct, a tentative deal with the State Bar still has not been signed.

Scott's attorney, Greg Schillace, said Friday that Scott was "disappointed that (the Office of Disciplinary Counsel) added an additional term that hadn't been discussed."

Schillace said earlier in the week that the two sides were close to an agreement that would recommend several sanctions, including an 18-month suspension of Scott's law license.

Schillace declined to comment about what the additional term is, but several sources close to the matter say the agreement included a provision that Scott resign from office.

Lawrence Lewis, chief disciplinary counsel for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, was preparing for the hearing Friday and declined to answer the telephone. Maura Lewis, a legal assistant in the office, relayed the question to Lewis and said, "We have no comment."

"We're willing and ready to go forward with the agreement that was (tentatively) reached, but we're not willing to accept the additional condition," Schillace said. "We are prepared to move forward to the hearing stage."

Despite not being able to hammer out an agreement on the recommended sanctions, Schillace said the findings that were stipulated last week still are binding.

Last week, Scott, Schillace and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel drafted a document in which both sides agree that Scott violated several rules of professional conduct, including lying to judges, unauthorized practice of law and misconduct, Schillace said.

The charges stem, in part, from Scott's failure to pay his State Bar dues on time in 2000 and also include six cases from 1996 to 1999 that Scott handled while in private practice.

Scott's failure to pay his dues on time led to a court challenge of his ability to hold office. The judicial system upheld his right to serve in the elected position.

Scott has been diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder, which contributed to the violations, Schillace has said.

"I acknowledged what I did wrong. We're not backing off that," Scott said Friday. "And I'm willing to accept any eventual sanction that will come from the Supreme Court."

The Lawyer Disciplinary Board's three-member Hearing Panel will conduct the hearing in the Clarksburg federal courthouse Monday.

The Hearing Panel will then make a recommendation of sanctions which will then be forwarded to the state Supreme Court, which will make the final decision to accept the proposal or render its own decision.

Staff writer Jim Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at jfisher@exponent-telegram.com

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