On Tuesday, April 18, 2023, the Supreme Court of Georgia approved the Special Master’s recommendation of the suspension of attorney Jason Lee Van Dyke for providing misleading or fake information to law enforcement.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Jason Lee Van Dyke,” with case no. S23Yo225.

The charges cited Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(a)(3).

The matter arose from the petition of the respondent seeking voluntary discipline based on his discipline in Texas and reciprocal discipline in other jurisdictions where he is licensed to practice law. The Special Master then engaged in fact-finding as per the request of the respondent on whether he is subject to the said reciprocal discipline in the state of Georgia in connection with any past or current disciplinary proceedings.

The respondent’s misconduct started in September 2018 when he called the local police to report the theft of several items from his truck. After police interviewed his then-roommate, the respondent was arrested for making a false report. The latter contested the charges. By his own admission, Mr. Van Dyke violated the conditions of his bond while his charges were pending. Shortly before the trial, the roommate, whom the state had planned to call as a witness, went missing contending that the respondent had procured the unavailability of the witness, the State filed a motion seeking forfeiture by wrongdoing, which was granted. The respondent then agreed to enter a plea of nolo contendere and, on February 26, 2019, he entered his plea before the Denton County, Texas Criminal Court no. 5 on one count of making a false report to a law enforcement officer. He was sentenced to 24 months of deferred adjudication community supervision, with special conditions.

The filing states:

“Following an evidentiary hearing, the Special Master issued his Report and Recommendation, which contained findings of fact, including specific findings requested by this Court in Van Dyke I, and conclusions of law. At the outset, the Special Master found that Van Dyke violated Rule 8.4 (a) (3) by virtue of his February 26, 2019 plea in his Texas criminal case. As to Van Dyke’s background and legal practice in Georgia, the Special Master found that Van Dyke was admitted to practice law in Texas in 2007 and was admitted to practice in Georgia in 2015.”

The filing continues:

“The Special Master then turned to the other fact-finding matters requested by the Court in Van Dyke I. The Special Master found that, in connection with Van Dyke’s misdemeanor criminal case, the State of Texas moved to hold Van Dyke’s bond insufficient on the basis that he had committed additional criminal offenses and threatened to commit future offenses — specifically, by making threats to his alleged harasser by email in September 2018. The 11 Special Master noted that Van Dyke denied sending the September 20 18 emails and testified that the emails were the basis for new criminal charges for which he was arrested, but that the charges were no – billed by a grand jury and Van Dyke’s arrest on those charges was expunged. The Special Master found no evidence that Van Dyke was convicted of any crime or that disciplinary action was taken against him for the alleged September 2018 email threats against his alleged harasser.”

The filing further states:

“The Special Master further found that the State of Texas filed a motion for forfeiture by wrongdoing in Van Dyke’s criminal case, alleging that Van Dyke had procured the unavailability of a witness the State planned to call in the case. The Texas court granted the motion and ruled that, as a result of his wrongdoing, Van Dyke waived his right to confront the witness and to object to the admissibility of statements made by the witness. The Special Master noted that Van Dyke admitted that the Texas court concluded that he procured the unavailability of the witness but that Van Dyke denied that he did so. The Special Master found this incident was part of a pattern of misconduct showing Van Dyke’s lack of respect for the law and legal process.”

At the hearing, the Special Master admitted into evidence a certified copy of the respondent’s plea of nolo contendere in his Texas criminal case without objection. Thus, the Special Master concluded that the State Bar proved, by clear and convincing evidence, that the respondent violated Rule 8.4 (a) (3) by entering a plea of nolo contendere to a criminal misdemeanor charge.

The Special Master concluded that the primary purpose of disciplinary action is to protect the public from attorneys who are not qualified to practice law due to incompetence or unprofessional conduct.

In relation to this, the Supreme Court of Georgia approved the Special Master’s recommendation to impose discipline against the respondent.

The Disposition states:

“Having reviewed the record, we conclude that the Special Master’s recommendation of a three-year suspension is an appropriate penalty in this case. We note, however, that although the Special Master declined to impose reciprocal discipline for the Second Texas Incident and concluded that reciprocal discipline “based upon the remaining out-of-state discipline against [Van Dyke] would be duplicative and inappropriate, ” he based his recommendation of a three – year suspension for Van Dyke’s Bar Rule 4 – proceeding on the total length of time for which Van Dyke was suspended for his three Texas disciplinary cases proceedings.”

As of today, Mr. Van Dyke is listed in the Marsala Law Group as a practicing attorney. He attended Stetson University, graduating in 2006. He practices in Denton, Texas. He is licensed in Texas, Colorado, DC, and Georgia. His info can be found on texasbar.com.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.