A Hallsville attorney has been disbarred for professional misconduct after diverting cash from a trust account to his own use.
The Missouri Supreme Court issued the disbarment order Tuesday based on a report from the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, which polices the activities of attorneys in the state.
In an information filed with the court, the office stated that lawyer Vernan Pierce knowingly misused a client's settlement funds to pay law office and personal expenses.
Court documents in the case show Pierce deposited a $6,500 personal injury settlement check into a trust account on July 17, 2017. Between the date of deposit and late August 2017, Pierce transferred the entirety of those funds to his firm operating account, a violation of Rules Governing the Missouri Bar and Judiciary.
Those rules also require that attorneys promptly notify and deliver to a client any settlement funds, which apparently did not take place. Pierce borrowed money from a family member to pay his client after 55 days had passed.
Pierce, according to court filings, was notified by certified mail of the pending disciplinary action and did not respond. Attempts to contact him for comment were unsuccessful. A phone number listed for his Hallsville office was disconnected.
Little other information was available about Pierce’s legal career. His firm has no website, nor was he readily found on any social media sites.
In the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s filing, he was stated as having obtained his license in 2012, but did not practicing until 2016, when he opened his Hallsville office.
Prior to opening his office, he worked for the University of Missouri as an Agricultural Economics Professor, but that position was eliminated in 2016, according to the filing.