On Tuesday, October 24, 2023, the Supreme Court of Georgia dismissed disciplinary sanctions against Attorney Marsha Williams Mignott and closed the case against her.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Marsha Williams Mignott,” with case no. S23Y0974.

Mignott had been accused of learning confidential information from a prospective client during an initial consultation in March 2018 and later using that information against the individual in another legal proceeding. This led the individual to file a grievance with the State Bar of Georgia.

The State Bar charged Mignott with violating Rule 1.8(b) and Rule 1.9(c)(2) of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct, which prohibit lawyers from using client information against a client without consent or revealing confidential details about a prior representation.

A special master appointed to the case found Mignott violated both rules. Given aggravating factors, The special master recommended a two-year suspension. The State Disciplinary Review Board later reduced this to a one-year suspension but agreed on the rule violations.

However, the Supreme Court disagreed in a unanimous decision. In a 12-page opinion, the court said the plain text of the rules only applies to actual clients, not prospective clients as in Mignott’s case. While a comment to another rule previously said other rules like 1.8(b) and 1.9(c)(2) could apply to prospective clients, the court ruled comments cannot alter the meaning of the rules’ text.

Additionally, the State Bar had stipulated the individual was only a prospective client and not an actual client of Mignott’s since no representation agreement occurred. Therefore, the court found, that no attorney-client relationship existed between Mignott and the individual to trigger the confidentiality provisions in the charged rules.

In dismissing the case, the court said the special master and review board erred in recommending any discipline, as the State Bar failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Mignott violated the cited conduct rules as charged. No sanctions were imposed and the matter was closed.

According to avvo.com, Ms. Mignott is a criminal defense attorney in Tucker, Georgia. She attended the John Marshall Law School. She acquired her law license in Georgia in 2005.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.