VIRGINIA STATE BAR:

IN THE MATTER OF NORVILL SHERMAN CLARK

VSB Docket No. 02-000-2153

OPINION

On the 26th day of April 2002, this Show Cause Hearing was held before a panel of the Board, consisting of William C. Boyce, Jr., Chester J. Cahoun, Frank B. Miller, III, Gordon P. Peyton, Jr., and Roscoe B. Stephenson, III, Acting Chair. The Court Reporter was Donna Chandler of Chandler & Halasz, Post Office Box 1644, Richmond, Virginia 23218-1644.The Respondent appeared in person, pro se, and the Bar was represented by Edward L. Davis, Assistant Bar Counsel.

The Show Cause hearing was heard pursuant to the "Rule to Show Cause and Order of Suspension at Hearing" from the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board entered March 29, 2002, suspending the license of Respondent on the grounds that Respondent had been convicted of a crime, as defined by Rules of Court, Part 6, Section IV, ¶13(A), by reason of his conviction, based on his guilty plea to misdemeanor charges in the Circuit Court of Raleigh County, West Virginia, of forging and uttering stolen checks, on December 14, 2001, Case Number 01-F-180-H. The felony charges then pending against Respondent were dismissed as part of the plea bargaining.

Respondent admitted that he has not practiced law in Virginia since 1981 [1] and since 1993 in California where he was also licensed until he surrendered his license following his arrest and sentencing for forging and uttering checks belonging to this father. [2] Respondent has not petitioned the Supreme Court of California for reinstatement of his license.

The Respondent advised that, in 1993, following his arrest, he entered a long term treatment center for substance abuse, where he remained for five years. Following discharge, he moved to the State of West Virginia, where his mother lived. At the time of his discharge from the long-term facility, Respondent advises that he did not understand the need for aftercare and, after working in the State of West Virginia for approximately three years, relapsed into substance abuse. After so relapsing in May 2001, Respondent committed the offenses for which he was charged and convicted. After completing treatment in two facilities, Respondent advises that he has been free from drugs and has been participating in both Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous and that he planned to continue his participation on a regular basis.

Respondent further advised that he has been employed locally in West Virginia since his rehabilitation. [3] He advises that he now has "checks" in his lifestyle to make sure that the compulsion to engage in drugs will not occur again. He explained that helping others in recovery helps him and that, without this activity, "Öyou can kiss my life goodbye."

The Respondent was very candid in admitting that he was not current on his dues or his continuing legal education requirements in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He thought he had completed almost eight hours of CLE courses.

Respondent further advised that he wishes to activate his Virginia license so as to be able to "waive" into the State of West Virginia where he hoped to assist Appalachian Rural Legal Aid of West Virginia

The Board was impressed with the fact that Respondent had paid approximately $1,300.00 back of the $2,100.00 stolen through the forged checks and that Respondent is performing approximately thirty hours per week of volunteer work in Ridgewood, West Virginia with the Peer Recovery Network.

The Board was impressed with the candor and forthrightness of the testimony of the Respondent, especially the fact that he felt a Suspension of his license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia for a period of two years would be appropriate. Respondent felt that he would not be in condition to practice law for that period of time. [4]

Based on the testimony of Respondent and the Exhibits introduced in evidence at the hearing, the Board was of the opinion that Respondent had not shown cause why his license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia should not be further suspended or revoked.

In deliberating whether to further suspend or revoke the license of Respondent to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Board considered the evidence that Respondent, in California, forged and uttered checks belonging to his father, Christopher Clark, with whom he was living at the time, and in the State of West Virginia, forged and uttered checks belonging to James Argent, for whom he performed certain work in Bekley, West Virginia, both victims are persons who were close to Respondent and who placed trust in him.

After considering all of the facts introduced at the hearing, including the testimony of Respondent and the exhibits tendered by both parties, the Board is of the opinion and doth ORDER that the license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia of Respondent be and the same is hereby REVOKED.

In revoking the license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia of Respondent, the Board considered the nature and circumstances of the Misconduct, along with the severity thereof. The Board further considered the character, maturity and experience of Respondent at the time the offenses were committed. [5]

The Board was further impressed with the information contained in letter received from the employer of Respondent and the punishment undergone for the offenses committed. The Board is not unaware of the fact that Respondent has also committed offenses in Raleigh County, West Virginia for which sentencing had not occurred at the time of the hearing. Petitioner appeared sincere, frank and truthful in presenting and discussing factors relating to the crimes which has committed in the States of California and West Virginia. His candor was admirable.

The Board felt Revocation was more appropriate than a suspension for a number of reasons. Respondent has not practiced law in any state, since 1993 and, by his own admission, was not current in his continuing legal education. For this reason, the Board was concerned about his familiarity with the Rules of Professional Responsibility and his proficiency in the practice of law.

The Board noted that, despite five years of treatment for his addiction in the State of California following the theft of money from his father, Respondent, in the State of West Virginia, succumbed once again to the addiction and stole money from one close to him. The Board, is of the opinion that while Respondent has admirable goals and is performing admirable community service at this time, Respondent should come to the Supreme Court and this Board to prove that he has done what he said he was going to do.

It is ORDERED that, as directed in the Boardís April 26, 2002, Summary Order in this matter, a copy of which was served on Respondent by certified mail, Respondent must comply with the requirements of Part 6, Section IV, Paragraph 13.K.(1) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. The time for compliance with said requirements runs from the April 26, 2002 effective date of the Summary Order. All issues concerning the adequacy of the notice and arrangements required by the Summary Order shall be determined by the Board.

It is further ORDERED that the Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall send an attested and true copy of this Order and Opinion to Respondent, Norvill Sherman Clark, 2575 Alvin Avenue, Number 228, San Jose, California 95121-1674, by certified mail, return receipt requested, at his address of record with the Virginia State Bar, and to Edward L. Davis, Assistant Bar Counsel, 707 East Main Street, Suite 1500, Richmond, Virginia 23219-7803.

The Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall assess costs pursuant to Part 6, Section IV, Paragraph 13.K.(10) of the Rules of the Supreme Court.

So ORDERED, this ______ day of May, 2002.

Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board

__________________________________________

By:Roscoe B. Stephenson, III

Acting Chair



[1] Petitioner advised that his license in Virginia has been on "inactive" status since that time.

[2] While the Order of the Supreme Court of California (State Bar Court Case No. 93-Q-15992) accepting Respondentís resignation is dated April 13, 1994, the Transmittal of this license was marked "received" by the Supreme court of California on November 3, 1993. (VSB Exhibit 4) This Exhibit 4 also contains documents from the Municipal Court Southern Branch showing Respondent made a Nolo Contendre plea to the charges of forging and uttering.

[3] The Board received in evidence, without objection, as Respondent Exhibit 2, a letter from Elizabeth Hanna, Secretary, Richwood City Building Commission. This Exhibit was also considered by the Board in its deliberations.

[4] Respondent was placed on probation by the Circuit Court of Raleigh County, West Virginia for a period of two years, effective December 14, 2001, as his penalty for the crimes of which he was convicted.

[5] According to the documents, Respondent was born on July 8 , 1952.