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Lawyer disbarred for alleged neglect, deception of clients

In a decision by the State Bar of Georgia and filed by the Georgia Supreme Court on Monday, local divorce and family attorney Nolen Arthur Hamer was disbarred for multiple instances of alleged improper behavior.

The decision on Monday states that the disbarment of Hamer was appropriate because he “knowingly failed to provide services to a client, engaged in a pattern of neglect of client matters, knowingly deceived a client with the intent to benefit himself,” noting also that Hamer’s conduct, “demonstrates a pattern of misconduct,” and that he “obstructed the disciplinary proceeding in bad faith.”

Disbarment, the most serious punishment a bar association can hand down, is reserved for cases in which the lawyer’s continued practice is considered to be a detriment to the public.

The report lists three incidents where Hammer’s conduct with his clients warranted disciplinary action. 

In the first instance, according to the decision, Hamer was retained by a client to file a divorce action on her behalf, but after the divorce was filed, Hamer took, “virtually no action to advance the case for several months despite inquiries from the client and opposing counsel.” 

The situation intensified when Hamer failed to schedule a final hearing, failed to serve the opposing counsel a request from the client for a hearing, according to the decision. It ended with Hamer withdrawing as the client’s counsel. 

The second instance involved Hamer being retained to file an uncontested divorce for a client. During the proceedings, according to the court decision, Hamer failed to notify the client of changes to the court schedule in a timely manner, notifying her the night before scheduled dates. Hamer’s alleged failure to communicate with the client eventually led to the dismissal of the case in January of 2015 for “want of prosecution.” 

After the dismissal, the client demanded a refund from Hamer, which he “declined to provide.”

In the final instance, Hamer was retained by a client for a legitimation and custody action. 

The client, who agreed to pay half of Hamer’s fee upfront, was successfully defended by Hamer in an emergency hearing, but, “he thereafter delegated communication with her to his non-lawyer assistant,” and “over the next few months, both he and his assistant failed to adequately respond to the clients’ requests to speak or meet with them.” 

According to the decision, Hamer, “failed to maintain reasonable communication with the client, and failed to adequately and accurately inform the client about the status of her case.”

This instance once again ended with Hamer withdrawing as the client’s representation, but “failed to give the client prior notice of his intent to withdraw or to serve her with a copy of the motion to withdraw.” 

Again, the client requested a refund of Hamer’s fee, and, again, he declined to provide it. 

Hamer had his own private practice and had been a member of the bar since 1989.

Attempts to reach Hamer were unsuccessful as of press time.