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Ga. Dem chair Berlon gets State Bar reprimand
By JIM WALLS
May 21, 2013 — The Georgia Supreme Court today signed off on a reprimand for state Democratic Party chair Mike Berlon for his inaction in a child-custody case.
A special master found that Berlon failed to file a change of custody petition on behalf of a client whom he had represented for several years in child-support matters. The client confronted the Gwinnett County attorney after discovering at a court appearance that the petition had never been filed.
In its unanimous decision, the Supreme Court said the special master also found that Berlon had paid $2,500 of the same client’s money to a private investigator without the client’s permission. Berlon later refunded the money to the client.
The matter has been pending since 2005, Berlon said today. “We’re just bringing everything to a resolution,” he said. “This has been going on for a long, long time and it’s nice to get it resolved.”
Berlon could have faced disbarment, the high court noted, but received the lighter penalty partly due to his return of the $2,500 and his lack of prior disciplinary actions. His law license — suspended April 29 for failing to respond fully to the bar’s investigation — should be restored in a day or two once the proper paperwork has been signed.
The court approved a review panel reprimand for Berlon — one step below a public reprimand, which is delivered in public by a Superior Court judge, in the State Bar’s levels of discipline.