Former Councilman Cromartie hopes to avoid disbarment - - Columbia, South Carolina

Former Councilman Cromartie hopes to avoid disbarment

EW Cromartie II leaving SC Supreme Court chamber Thursday. (Source: Jack Kuenzie) EW Cromartie II leaving SC Supreme Court chamber Thursday. (Source: Jack Kuenzie)

Former Columbia City Councilman EW Cromartie II was in court on Thursday to see if he can avoid disbarment from the state Bar Association.

Cromartie's attorney argued for two year suspension of the former councilman's license, and said he will never practice law again.

Cromartie himself even took a moment to talk to the Supreme Court judges.

"I am deeply sorry, deeply remorseful. I am paying a tremendous price," Cromartie said.

Cromartie says the reason why he's trying to avoid further punishment is because of his son.

"I've asked this court's mercy not so much for myself, but for my son who carries my name, Ernest William Cromartie, III. We talk about how we want our young people to stay in South Carolina and in Columbia and contribute. I've been fortunate enough to get my son to return to Columbia from Washington, DC. However, I know he did not come back to South Carolina in order to have his ability to earn a living be impaired by a disbarred father."

The former attorney had his law license suspended in the wake of a federal investigation and pleading guilty in 2010 to one count of tax evasion and two counts of structuring bank deposits to avoid federal income reporting requirements.

Cromartie served 9 months in prison for the charges.

Several former and current state lawmakers, such as state Rep. Leon Howard and former Sen. Kay Patterson, were in the courtroom.

"Lawyers are supposed to uphold the law," said Barbara Seymour with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. "They're supposed to serve the law and respect the law and none more so than those who are holding the public trust."

The proceedings ended around noon, but the court made no immediate decision. There was no immediate indication on when the Supreme Court would rule or how the justices were leaning on Cromartie's request.

Chief Justice Jean To al noted that Cromartie has a long history of disciplinary problems and she suggested the state has had a difficult time getting Cromartie's attention.

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