IN THE MATTER OF MILLARD C. FARMER, JR.
disciplinary matter is before the Court on the report and
recommendation of the special master, Patrick H. Head,
recommending that the Court disbar Millard C. Farmer, Jr.
(State Bar No. 255300) for an extensive pattern of
disciplinary infractions committed in the course of his
representation of a client in post-divorce child custody and
related proceedings. After the State Bar filed its formal
complaint in this matter, Farmer filed an answer, which the
special master held did not conform to the requirements of
applicable Bar Rules. See Georgia Rules of Professional
Conduct, Bar Rules 4-212 (a) and 4-221.2 (b). After Farmer
failed to file an amended answer as ordered by the special
master, the special master entered default against Farmer.
Subsequently, the special master issued his report and
recommendation, in which he deemed admitted the allegations
in the formal complaint. See Bar Rule 4-212 (a) (upon failure
to file proper answer, "facts alleged and violations
charged in the formal complaint shall be deemed
admitted"). Farmer has never contested the default, nor
did he file exceptions to the special master's report.
Upon the record before us, we agree that disbarment is the
only appropriate sanction in this case.
facts as admitted by virtue of Farmer's default are as
follows. Farmer, who was admitted to practice in 1967, was
retained in 2008 by a client (hereinafter, "Wife")
to pursue a malpractice action against the attorney who had
handled her 2006 divorce. The crux of the claim was that the
divorce attorney's negligence had resulted in a shortfall
of approximately $50, 000 from the division of marital
property. In 2010, after Wife's ex-husband (hereinafter,
"Husband") had been joined as a defendant in the
litigation, Farmer refused Husband's settlement offer for
the full $50, 000 and threatened to make the case
"expensive and painful" unless he paid $150, 000.
Husband ultimately acceded to the demand.
2011, Husband filed a petition in Coweta Superior Court to
modify the parties' child custody arrangement, and Wife
again retained Farmer. Throughout his representation in the
custody litigation, Farmer employed litigation tactics that
he himself referred to as "Conflictineering," the
purpose of which was to disrupt the judicial process to the
point that either the court or the opposing party would
simply capitulate for the sake of restoring order. In
furtherance of this strategy, Farmer filed repeated frivolous
motions and pursued baseless appeals, ultimately yielding
more than 500 filings in the case, and routinely made ad
hominem attacks against parties, the trial judge and court
staff, and participants who took positions contrary to those
of his client. See, e.g., Murphy v. Murphy, 328
Ga.App. 767, 773-774 (759 S.E.2d 909) (2014) (imposing
frivolous appeal penalties on Farmer and his client).
emblematic episode, Farmer counseled Wife to refuse to
participate in the custody evaluation and, in direct
violation of an express court order, discussed substantive
issues involved in the custody litigation with the
parties' children. He then willfully refused to appear at
the resulting contempt hearing, after which both he and Wife
were held in contempt. See Murphy v. Murphy, 330
Ga.App. 169 (6) (a) (767 S.E.2d 789) (2014).
threatened witnesses on at least two occasions, the first in
an effort to compel the witness to recant after he had
testified adversely to Wife, and the second in a preemptive
attempt to influence the witness's testimony. The latter
instance involved a psychiatrist and former client of his
whom he had retained to evaluate the parties' children,
whose professional reputation Farmer threatened to destroy if
she offered testimony adverse to Wife. Then, after the
witness testified contrary to Farmer's preferences,
Farmer filed briefs revealing sensitive information the
witness had disclosed in confidence in the course of his
representation and accusing her of having been under the
influence of drugs at the hearing.
the trial court awarded temporary physical custody to Husband
amidst Wife and Farmer's failure to cooperate in the
custody evaluation, Farmer directed Wife to instruct her
children to resist Husband's exercise of custody through
various means, including encouraging them to run away from
Husband's home and orchestrating an elaborate scheme to
manufacture evidence of child abuse and neglect by Husband.
In addition, purporting to act on Wife's behalf, Farmer
filed suit against the trial judge's court reporter -
against whom he had also filed a professional grievance - and
the Board of Court Reporting, which had rejected said
professional grievance. After the trial court dismissed the
suit on summary judgment, Farmer appealed and, after
submitting filings accusing the trial judge of bias and
corruption, was subjected to frivolous appeal sanctions. See
Murphy v. Freeman, 337 Ga.App. 221, 227-229 (787
S.E.2d 755) (2016) (imposing maximum sanction for multiple
willful violations of Court of Appeals Rules and noting
likely violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct).
According to Wife's later testimony, Farmer persisted in
litigating the court reporter suit even after she had
instructed him to discontinue it, filing at least one brief
that she had not authorized.
addition to his above-noted sanctioning on no less than three
occasions during the custody and related proceedings, Farmer
was also more recently found liable, based on the
above-described conduct, in a civil Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations ("RICO") action, see OCGA
§ 16-14-1 et seq., for multiple acts of racketeering,
including attempted theft by extortion, in violation of OCGA
§ 16-8-16; attempted bribery, in violation of OCGA
§ 16-10-2; intimidation of a court officer, in violation
of OCGA § 16-10-97; influencing witnesses, in violation
of OCGA § 16-10-93; and employing interstate travel, in
concert with others, to deliberately interfere with
Husband's lawful custody, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1952 and OCGA § 16-5-45.
the record from the disciplinary proceedings below reflects
that Farmer has failed to comply with several directives of
the special master and, since the filing of his
unsatisfactory initial answer, has failed to participate in
any way in the proceedings.
facts establish that Farmer violated Rules 1.2 (a), 1.6 (a),
1.8 (b), 3.1, 3.2, 3.4, 3.5 (d), 4.4, and 8.4 (a) (1) and (a)
(4) of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct found in Bar
Rule 4-102 (d). The maximum sanction for a violation of Rules
1.2 (a), 1.6 (a), 1.8 (b), 3.4, and 8.4 (a) (1) and (a) (4)
is disbarment, and the maximum sanction for the remaining
violations is a public reprimand.
noted by the special master, multiple aggravating factors are
apparent in this case, including Farmer's pattern of
misconduct; his multiple violations; his intentional
noncompliance in the disciplinary proceedings; his
mischaracterizations of the facts; his selfish motive; his
refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of his conduct;
his substantial experience in the practice of law; and his
apparent indifference to restitution, as demonstrated by his
failure to satisfy the judgment in the civil RICO case. The
sole mitigating factor, on the other hand, is Farmer's
lack of any prior disciplinary history.
record, we have little difficulty concluding that disbarment
is the appropriate sanction in this matter. See, e.g., In
the Matter of Koehler, 297 Ga. 794 (778 S.E.2d 218)
(2015) (disbarment warranted for attorney with no prior
disciplinary history for engaging in pattern of misconduct
involving frivolous filings and misrepresentations, acting
without client authorization, and obstructing disciplinary
proceedings); In the Matter of Minsk, 296 Ga. 152
(765 S.E.2d 361) (2014) (disbarment warranted for attorney
with no prior disciplinary history for making false
statements, acting without client's authorization, and
failing to make restitution); In the Matter of
Rolleston, 282 Ga. 513 (651 S.E.2d 739) (2007)
(disbarment warranted for attorney's extensive history of
frivolous filings, recalcitrant behavior, and open disrespect
for the judiciary). Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that
the name of Millard C. Farmer, Jr. be removed from the rolls
of persons authorized to practice law in the State of
Georgia. Farmer is reminded of his duties pursuant to Bar
Rule 4-219 (b).
All the Justices concur, except Boggs, J., disqualified, and