In the Matter of Michael Anthony Eddings

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to modification resulting from motions for reconsideration under Supreme Court Rule 27, the Court’s reconsideration, and editorial revisions by the Reporter of Decisions. The version of the opinion published in the Advance Sheets for the Georgia Reports, designated as the “Final Copy,” will replace any prior version on the Court’s website and docket. A bound volume of the Georgia Reports will contain the final and official text of the opinion. In the Supreme Court of Georgia Decided: August 9, 2022 S22Y0691. IN THE MATTER OF MICHAEL ANTHONY EDDINGS. PER CURIAM. This disciplinary matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation of the State Disciplinary Review Board, which recommends disbarring respondent Michael Anthony Eddings (State Bar No. 238751) for his violations of Rules 3.3 (false statements to a tribunal), 4.1 (false statements to third persons in connection with representation of a client), 4.2 (a) (communications with persons represented by counsel), 8.1 (a) (false statements in connection with a disciplinary proceeding), and 8.4 (a) (4) (dishonesty in professional conduct) of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct found in Bar Rule 4-102 (d). The maximum penalty for a violation of any of these rules is disbarment. Although Eddings vehemently denies violating any of these rules, the special master, Thomas E. Cauthorn III, who had the opportunity to see and consider the testimony of the witnesses and to review the properly admitted evidence, made credibility determinations adverse to Eddings, and the Review Board adopted those credibility determinations, finding that they were supported by the record. Based on those determinations, which are not clearly erroneous, and the other evidence in the record, we agree with the special master and the Review Board that Eddings’s conduct violated the above- mentioned rules and that disbarment is the appropriate sanction for those violations. In its formal complaint, the Bar asserted that, while representing a client, who had been charged in Muscogee County with murder, Eddings tape-recorded his July 22, 2017 interview with a material witness, who had been charged with making a false statement in connection with the victim’s death. Because the witness’s interview contained information exculpatory as to Eddings’s client and inculpatory as to the witness, Eddings provided a copy of the recording to the Assistant District Attorney in his 2 client’s case, who subsequently indicted the witness as a co- defendant in the murder case. Apparently the two co-defendants were tried separately, and both were acquitted. However, during the witness’s May 2018 trial on the murder charge, Eddings was called by the State to authenticate his recording of the witness’s statement to him, and Eddings testified under oath that he knew at the time he interviewed the witness that the witness was represented by attorney Stacey Jackson; that he was unsuccessful in his attempts to contact Jackson to obtain his consent to interview the witness; and that he conducted the interview anyway because he believed he did not need Jackson’s permission. The very next day, however, on May 18, …

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