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DeKalb legislator, accused of malpractice, back in court


A DeKalb County legislator gets his day in court today to defend against a legal malpractice claim that has lingered since 2004.

Or not.

State Rep. Randal Mangham lost a 2005 trial in the case and was ordered to pay $293,000 to a client who had been injured in an auto accident. Mangham won a new trial last year when a judge ruled that one of Mangham’s witnesses should have been allowed to testify as an expert.

This morning, lawyers in the case began questioning potential jurors in the courtroom of DeKalb State Court Judge Edward E. Carriere Jr. But Mangham last week asked for a continuance because one of his attorneys, Richard Green II, dropped out of the case.

Opposing attorneys plan to push for the trial to begin today with no delays.

The case revolves around a 1995 car wreck involving a church van and Karen Smith’s Ford Explorer on Cascade Road in Atlanta.

Mangham filed suit on Smith’s behalf against the church and the driver of the van. But according to Smith’s complaint, Mangham:

—    Failed to serve process on the church after filing suit in 1998,

—    Submitted court filings they were inaccurate, inconsistent and long overdue,

—    Missed a critical court appearance in 2003,

—    Voluntarily dismissed the suit twice, barring Smith from pressing a claim, and

—    Allowed the statue of limitations to expire.

Mangham contends that Smith’s new lawyers bungled the case and it was their fault that the statute of limitations expired. He denied blame for the other legal issues.

A jury ruled against Mangham in December 2005 and granted $175,000 in punitive damages as part of the plaintiff’s award.





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