In a 4-to-2 decision published Friday, the high court concluded Denise Majette violated the Rules of Professional Conduct.
The majority opinion says Majette submitted unsupported and misleading timesheets and invoices to a client and misrepresented her hours and fees to a court. The opinion also says Majette has failed to express any remorse.
Majette didn’t immediately respond to a call seeking comment Friday.
Majette, who had served nine years as a judge, beat U.S. Rep Cynthia McKinney in the Democratic primary in 2002. After two years in Congress, Majette left the seat for a losing Senate run, and McKinney regained the spot.
Majette was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1983 and “had a distinguished career,” the high court opinion says.
But while working part-time as a lawyer and real estate agent in 2008, she began to have financial problems and asked several lawyers for loans. One declined to lend her money but put her on a team of lawyers handling a trust case.
She didn’t keep time records but drew up time sheets and invoices from memory and notes, court documents say.
Majette also misstated her rate in a motion filed with the court and got into a dispute with a client over fees, the opinion says.
The client filed a grievance with the state Bar against Majette. The state Supreme Court appointed an attorney to act as a “special master” to conduct hearings in the matter and make a recommendation to the Bar.
The special master found Majette had violated the Rules of Professional Conduct and recommend she be disbarred, the high court’s opinion says.
Majette asked for a hearing by the Bar’s review panel, which agreed with the special master’s assessment and found additional violations.
The review panel said disbarment was justified but recommended a three-year suspension with conditions for reinstatement, since this was Majette’s first disciplinary proceeding.
The majority on the high court, however, agreed with the recommendation of the special master.
In the dissenting opinion, Justice Harold Melton cited Majette’s lack of other disciplinary problems. He suggested a more appropriate punishment would be a prolonged suspension with conditions for reinstatement.