As Columbus, Georgia attorney Michael Eddings prepared for the opening of the murder trial of his client Tuesday, the judge entered the courtroom and made an unexpected announcement: Eddings could no longer represent the defendant because he had been disbarred that morning.
As the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports, the state bar association announced Tuesday that it found sufficient cause to disbar Eddings for his conduct in a different trial. Eddings himself blamed the district attorney, Stacey Jackson, for his disbarment.
Prior to becoming DA, Jackson was a defense attorney like Eddings who was representing a client in a different murder case where Eddings was representing a different defendant. Jackson filed a complaint with the bar after learning Eddings had a private meeting with his client, with him being present, a violation of bar association ethics.
Superior Court Judge Gil McBride suspended the trial to allow the defendant to secure new counsel. He then read aloud the charges for which Eddings was disbarred: false statements to a disciplinary tribunal; false statements to third persons in connection with the representation of a client; communications with persons already represented by counsel; false statements in connection with a disciplinary proceeding; and dishonesty in professional conduct.
Jackson said that Eddings contacted and recorded an interview with Jackson’s client, a witness who was reportedly cooperating with police in the investigation of a murder for which Eddings client was charged. Eddings then turned that recording over to police because there were statements the witness made that incriminated himself.
Eddings claimed he had the right to question the witness without Jackson’s being present because the witness wasn’t a defendant who had the right to have counsel present. He also claimed that Jackson did not object when Eddings said he wanted to question Jackson’s client on an earlier conference call, so Eddings assumed he had permission.
The bar association disagreed, based both on the evidence and on the fact that Eddings had been previously been sanctioned for similar actions in two other cases. After the second sanction, the state bar association informed Eddings that he risked disbarment if found guilty of another ethics violation.