Crime & Courts

SC Supreme Court: Columbia lawyer mixed pleasure with business for years

S.C. Supreme Court suspends Columbia area lawyer for sex with client
S.C. Supreme Court suspends Columbia area lawyer for sex with client File Photo

The South Carolina Supreme Court has suspended a Columbia area lawyer who had sex with a married man for years while representing both the man and his wife in more than 20 legal actions.

The lawyer, Kay Paschal, has admitted she committed misconduct and created ethical conflicts with her “secret, sexual relationship” and has accepted her suspension for a term of three years, the Supreme Court wrote in a unanimous seven-page opinion released Wednesday.

During the more than 30 years the relationship and legal representations took place, Paschal, who’s now in her late 60s, earned about $87,000 in fees from the couple, the Supreme Court wrote.

That amounted to about $10,000 from the wife, and some $77,600 from the husband. The court also said Paschal took personal gifts from the husband and participated in investments with him during that time.

Jake Moore, Paschal’s lawyer, said she is sorry for everything and hasn’t tried to deny it.

“She was working for him, and he basically made some advances, and she acquiesced, and they had sex,” Moore said. “Once it started, it continued.”

Paschal knows she compromised standards lawyers are supposed to live by, Moore said. “As a professional attorney, you have to be able to maintain a level of objectivity. What you do has not only to be right, it has to look right.”

In its ruling, the Supreme Court identified the man and his wife only as “Mr. Doe” and “Mrs. Doe.” Paschal and “Mr. Doe” began their relationship in 1984 shortly after they met, the Supreme Court wrote. After the wife died in 2001, Paschal and Mr. Doe were “close companions” and had a live-in sexual relationship that continued until 2011, when he died at the age of 88, the ruling said.

In a widely publicized lawsuit and trial last year, Paschal was identified as having a long term live-in relationship with prominent Columbia real estate businessman David Wallace, who died in 2011 at the age of 88. Moore confirmed Wednesday that the Supreme Court’s order was about Paschal’s relationship with Wallace.

After Wallace died, Paschal became involved in a dispute with his two adult children involving his $6 million estate, according to legal papers. As a result of that dispute, a Richland County sheriff’s deputy had Paschal arrested in Lexington County. Following her release from jail and the dropping of charges, Paschal filed a civil suit against Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, alleging malicious prosecution.

A Lexington County jury agreed with Paschal and last July awarded her $1.6 million. In January, a circuit judge knocked that award down to $300,000. Paschal is appealing the reduction, Moore said.

That legal action against Lott has no relation to the facts in the Supreme Court’s ruling, Moore said.

“She understands she should not have had a relationship with this man while his wife was still living,” Moore said. “She regrets that, and she acknowledges that, and has owned up to it.”

There was no finding that Paschal did substandard legal work or stole money from the Wallaces, Moore said.

However, during the time Paschal represented Minna Wallace, David Wallace gave Paschal “personal financial support, including loans, gifts of cash and payment of some living expenses,” the Supreme Court wrote. While representing David Wallace, Paschal also participated in various business ventures with him in which he was the investor – business ties that presented a conflict of interest with Paschal’s role as Wallace’s lawyer, the Supreme Court said.

Moore said Paschal’s situation is not an isolated one.

“I’m sure Kay Paschal is the only person in the history of the world who had a sexual relationship that shouldn’t have taken place,” Moore said, sarcastically. “Things happen. She shouldn’t have done it. It is what it is.”

Lott declined comment Wednesday on the Supreme Court’s action, saying his case is on appeal.