On Tuesday, February 20, 2024, the Supreme Court of Georgia suspended attorney Cheryl Joyce Braziel from practicing law for two years over misconduct related to settling a personal injury case.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Cheryl Joyce Braziel,” with case no. S24Y0267.

The charges cited Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15 (I) (b), 1.15 (II) (b), and 8.4 (a) (4).

Braziel was accused of violating multiple rules of professional conduct during negotiations with lienholders on a settlement reached for a client who was injured in a car accident in Texas in 2016. The client had medical debts from an unpaid hospital bill and child support obligations. Braziel attempted to negotiate reductions to the amounts owed but failed to properly notify lienholders or pay the negotiated debts after receiving a $31,440 settlement from the driver’s insurance company.

Specifically, Braziel did not give prompt notice to the Texas hospital or child support agency when she received the settlement funds in 2017. She also misrepresented to the child support office that her client would receive no money from the case in order to eliminate the lien, violating her duty of honesty to third parties. Further, Braziel did not satisfy either lien until 2019, after the hospital filed a grievance against her.

The court’s special master and Braziel herself acknowledged violations of rules regarding diligently protecting third-party interests in funds and properly handling client property. While Braziel cooperated with the disciplinary process, the court viewed her prior public reprimand in 2019 as an aggravating factor. However, no other mitigating circumstances were found.

Taking into account precedent and disciplinary guidelines, the justices agreed to suspend Braziel for two years and require her to complete a law practice management course before regaining her license. The suspension will not take effect, however, until she resolves an existing administrative suspension for failure to meet continuing education requirements. Braziel must also fulfill obligations to notify clients and wind down her practice during the suspension period.

The Disposition states:

“Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that Cheryl Joyce Braziel is suspended from the practice of law in Georgia for two years, with reinstatement conditioned upon her participation in the State Bar’s Law Practice Management Program.”

According to avvo.com, Ms. Braziel is a bankruptcy & debt attorney in Mableton, Georgia. She acquired her law license in Georgia in 2007.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.