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High court disbars ATL council member Willis
By JIM WALLS
Oct. 7, 2013 — The Georgia Supreme Court today unanimously ordered disbarment of Atlanta City Council member H. Lamar Willis for taking $30,000 from a client and failing to repay it.
Willis deposited the $30,000 — a settlement negotiated in a civil suit on behalf of a client — and deposited it in his personal or business account, then converted the funds to his own use, the court’s opinion said. The defendants were later ordered to pay Willis’ client directly and seek reimbursement from Willis, which he has failed to provide, the court said.
Willis’s actions, the high court said, demonstrate his “extreme disregard of his duty to safeguard the property of a client, which undermines the public trust.”
The three-term council member blamed his failure to respond to disciplinary proceedings on depression. The justices disagreed, though, noting that “his continued active involvement in community affairs during this same period … appears to have taken priority over his obligation to his client and duty to respond to disciplinary authorities.”
Willis faces Andre Dickens, an opponent backed by former Mayor Shirley Franklin, in the Nov. 5 city election.