JACKSON — The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the disbarment of a prominent Mississippi lawyer amid allegations he mixed his personal and business funds with the funds of his clients.
The Mississippi Bar filed the complaint against James McIntyre of Jackson in 2008. McIntyre had been a member of the Mississippi Bar Association since 1965.
Mississippi Bar Association attorney Adam Kilgore said a disbarred attorney can seek reinstatement after three years.
McIntyre represented one-time Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen in 2005 during Killen’s trial in the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County. Killen was convicted of manslaughter in the deaths of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman.
The tribunal that disbarred McIntyre noted that he admitted during a Bar Association investigation that he commingled funds, wrote checks from his lawyer trust account for personal expenses and used his trust account to cover personal debts.
The Bar alleged McIntyre took funds from seven clients over the course of four years. And it said that on several occasions, his lawyer trust account was overdrawn and subject to bank late fees.
In his challenge to the Bar’s recommendation, McIntyre argued that disbarment was too harsh for his offense.
The Supreme Court, in rejecting that argument, said in its unanimous decision that McIntyre admitted to committing the “cardinal sin” of law practice by commingling his clients’ funds.
“Our precedent clearly supports McIntyre being disbarred, particularly in light of the fact that the complaint at issue included multiple instances of commingling over a prolonged period of time,” Justice Randy Pierce wrote for the court. “The misappropriation and commingling of client funds and the dishonesty involved therein goes to the very heart of McIntyre’s ability to practice law and to be put in a position of trust.”