Local citizens were shocked when The Insider revealed a few weeks ago that former local attorney Timothy Moses actually had the nerve to sue a former client for an outstanding bill he’d been holding over her head.
The irony of Moses trying to collect money he claimed he was owed was too much for many Augustans to stomach.
After all, Moses was disbarred by the South Carolina Supreme Court last April and voluntarily surrendered his license to practice law in Georgia last year after being caught stealing from his former law firm, Hull, Towill, Norman, Barrett & Salley.
The law firm estimated that Moses stole at least $77,000.
It was stunning news because Moses had worked for the Hull Barrett law firm for more than 15 years. He had also made the “Best Lawyers in America” list for several years in a row and managed former Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s two campaigns.
But, apparently, after Moses abruptly resigned from the Hull Barrett law firm in 2011, the attorneys in the practice became suspicious after a client contacted the firm and claimed to have received a bill for $500 from Moses asking for the client to pay him directly for legal services.
The client knew that the firm typically sent him a direct bill for the services and found Moses’ request to be odd.
In October of 2011, one of the partners in the firm confronted Moses about the billing abnormality.
At first, Moses feigned ignorance, but by the next day he admitted to the partner that he had sent the bill to the Hull Barrett law firm’s client.
Moses told the partners that he was “embarrassed and horrified” by the fact that he may have accidentally deposited the check into his personal account.
As a result, Moses agreed to repay the $500, plus interest to the firm.
But the firm’s executive committee was suspicious about the “error” and hired a computer forensics expert to examine Moses’ laptop to ascertain whether there were other instances of improper billing.
And lo and behold, the forensic examination uncovered approximately $77,000 in improper invoices, dating from August 2009 through September 2011.
The computer expert also testified there had been two attempts to “scrub,” or completely erase, the computer’s hard drive.
The expert said those attempts were largely successful, as there was evidence of other invoices that could not be recovered.
After discovering the extent of Moses’ actions, the firm immediately filed complaints against him in both Georgia and South Carolina.
It took a few years, but Moses’ actions caught up with him and caused him to lose his licenses to practice law in both states.
But that wasn’t before he continued to do legal work for clients who were completely unaware of the accusations against him.
One such client was a widow of a well-respected local family, who was forced to settle her case involving her family’s business because Moses’ reputation and legal research was immediately called into question after being disbarred.
This client, who is the mother of two children, was forced to settle her case and accept what she could get from the opposing side.
The sad part about it was this client had no idea Moses was accused of stealing from his former law firm, even though she was originally a client of the Hull Barrett law firm. She only followed Moses to his private practice because he had been working on her case while at the Hull Barrett law firm.
In fact, this client learned about the accusations against Moses by reading about it in the newspaper.
Not the best way to find out that your lawyer is facing the possibility of being disbarred.
But, despite all of her trials and tribulations with Moses, once her case was settled, she did not pursue any legal actions against him.
She just wanted it all over.
However, that’s when she received the $15,000 bill that Moses claimed she owed him.
And when she refused to pay it, Moses filed a civil claim against her for the money.
Her legal nightmare still wasn’t over.
The stress of this lawsuit loomed over her head.
Finally, this week, she entered the Augusta-Richmond County Judicial Center prepared to present her side of the story to Judge Scott Allen.
In order to explain the circumstances surrounding her case, she had subpoenaed four prominent attorneys in town: Neal Dickert, Jim Ellison, John Bell and Doug Batchelor.
All of them had background information about Moses and the legal work he had performed for her.
With her friends and family supporting her in the courtroom, she took her seat at the defendant’s table.
The hearing was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.
As Judge Allen entered the courtroom, Moses’ seat was empty.
Moses was a no-show.
Since the judicial center’s parking lot was extremely packed that day, Allen announced that he would give Moses a few minutes before proceeding with the case.
So, everyone in the courtroom waited.
Finally, after more than 15 minutes, Allen announced that he would grant the defendant’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.
“Thank you, your honor,” the defendant said.
She collected her things, hugged her family and friends and simply said, “I’m just relieved it’s over.”
But the truth is, she shouldn’t have been put through the stress of a lawsuit, especially when Moses didn’t even bother to attend the hearing.
Obviously, Moses doesn’t have any respect for the judge, members of his former law firm, other local attorneys or his former client.
It’s safe to say, Moses no longer belongs anywhere near a courtroom.