Lawrenceville attorney faces possible license suspension, disbarment

The state Supreme Court is weighing whether to suspend or disbar an attorney who overbilled Gwinnett County for representing criminal defendants who could not afford an attorney.

Christopher T. Adams, who has been practicing law for about 20 years, has petitioned the state's highest court to suspend him for a period of six months or longer as part of a deal with prosecutors that would result in criminal charges against Adams being dropped.

Adams agreed to admit wrongdoing, reimburse the county $10,605 and to be banned for life from representing any indigent defendants.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said the resolution would save the county from financing a three-week trial.

"If I could remove him from the practice of law for a period of time, get the county's money back and get an admission of wrongdoing, then I've accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Porter said.

Adams was indicted in 2008 on 17 counts each of making false statements and theft by taking.

The DA's investigation found that Adams billed the county for meetings with clients that he never attended.

Prosecutors initially said Adams submitted fraudulent bills totaling about $40,000, although it subsequently determined some of that sum was legitimately earned. Adams' defense attorney, Walt Britt, said prosecutors could only prove overbilling of $10,605.

Several attorneys and judges wrote letters of support for Adams, including Chief State Court Judge Robert W. Mock and Magistrate Court Judge Mark A. Lewis. They cited Adams' zealous defense of clients, his willingness to take pro bono cases, his role in helping establish a Juvenile Court truancy intervention program and his involvement with the Lawrenceville Kiwanis Club as considerations for how he remains an asset to the Bar.

However, attorney William C. Head wrote a letter June 19 asking the court to revoke Adams' license. Head said he represented a young client who paid Adams to defend him in a drunken driving and vehicular homicide case. The man, then 18, and his wife both said Adams assured them that the judge would likely sentence him to boot camp if he pleaded guilty. Instead, the judge sentenced him to six years in prison followed by nine years on probation.

Head believes Adams misled his client about the potential outcome and did not file any defense motions on his client's behalf.

"Christopher T. Adams does not deserve to ever be a member of the legal profession again," Head wrote.

Britt said that Head's and his client's allegations had already been litigated and found to be without merit. He said they never asked the State Bar of Georgia to take disciplinary action against Adams.

"I will leave speculation as to Mr. Head's motivations to others, but I do disagree that his statements should have any bearing on the outcome of our case," Britt said.

The State Bar has recommended that Adams be suspended 18 months.