On Tuesday, November 7, 2023, the Supreme Court of Georgia issued a disciplinary matter against attorney Cory Howerton Fleming, who has been accused of violating several Rules of Professional Conduct. Fleming has admitted to misconduct and has requested that his license to practice law be voluntarily surrendered.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Cory Howerton Fleming,” with case no. S23Y0970.

The charges cited the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct 1.4(a)(3), 1.5(c)(1), 1.7(a), 1.8(b), 1.15(I)(c), 5.4(c), and 8.4(a)(4). 

Fleming admitted to violating several rules of professional conduct in his representation of a client that resulted in a $4.305,000 million settlement in 2019 against defendant R. Alexander Murdaugh. According to court filings, in February 2018 a woman sustained head injuries at Murdaugh’s home in South Carolina and later died from her injuries, leaving behind two sons. Murdaugh, who was an attorney in South Carolina at the time, contacted Fleming asking him to represent the woman’s estate.

Murdaugh had two insurance policies providing $505,000 and $5 million in coverage for such an incident. Fleming filed suit against Murdaugh on behalf of the estate in 2018. In November 2018, one insurer tendered its $505,000 policy limits to settle the claims.

However, Fleming did not inform his client of the settlement. In December 2018, Fleming allowed the personal representative of the estate to be replaced and petitioned a probate court to approve the $505,000 settlement. Fleming admitted false information was provided in the petition regarding legal fees and expenses.

In March 2019, a mediation was held that led to an additional $3.8 million settlement from the second insurer, bringing the total to $4.3 million. Again in May 2019, Fleming provided false representations to the court to obtain approval of the overall settlement. Fleming then admitted giving checks totaling over $3.4 million from the settlement to Murdaugh at his request, under the false pretense that Murdaugh would deliver the funds to settle annuities for the victims’ sons. Instead, Murdaugh converted the money.

In October 2021, the sons filed a new lawsuit against Fleming and others. This led to Fleming’s law firm paying $676,255.59 and its insurer paying $650,000 to resolve the matter.

In his November 2023 petition to the Supreme Court, Fleming admitted his actions violated several rules of attorney conduct. The Court accepted the voluntary surrender of his law license, equivalent to disbarment. The decision upholds accountability for attorneys who violate ethics in handling client funds.

The Disposition states:

“We therefore accept Fleming’s voluntary surrender of his license, and it is ordered that the name of Cory Howerton Fleming be removed from the rolls of persons authorized to practice law in the State of Georgia. Fleming is reminded of his duties pursuant to Bar Rule 4-219(b).”

According to avvo.com, Mr. Fleming is a litigation attorney in Beaufort, South Carolina. He attended the University of South Carolina School of Law, graduating in 1994. He acquired her law license in Georgia in 1995.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.