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Supreme Court disbars Mathis

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- The man who once challenged Saxby Chambliss for a seat in congress has now been disbarred by the state supreme court after it says he took settlement funds from a client.

Craig Steven Mathis has been stripped of his law license after the justices of the Georgia Supreme Court decided unanimously to disbar him Tuesday.

Mathis had been ordered to appear before a review panel in March regarding his admission that he violated state bar rules when he failed to adequately represent the interests of a client involved in a 2007 child custody dispute.

Mathis missed the hearing after GBI and Lee County sheriff's deputies arrested him in March 2010 on drug-related charges.

According to the court order, the justices state that the State Bar of Georgia was seeking to disbar Mathis based on his handling of funds received in settlement of his client's lawsuit.

According to the court, the client hired Mathis to represent her in a personal injury case which eventually settled for $60,000. The justices state that Mathis received the funds but failed to pay $29,785 in outstanding medical expenses stipulated by the client and kept the money for his own personal use, despite having already received $12,000 in attorney fees.

When the client learned that the bills had not been paid, she attempted to call Mathis, who refused to return her phone calls or explain why he had not fulfilled his promises to pay the bills, the justices state.

The court's decision comes as Mathis fights charges that he was dealing in prescription drugs.

Warrants obtained by The Albany Herald state that at the time of his arrest in March 2010, authorities contend Mathis was in possession of five amphetamine dextroamphetamine pills, which are a Schedule II controlled substance, and 47 Alprazolam pills, a Schedule IV substance -- none of which was in a prescription bottle or container.

Mathis was indicted in July 2010 on one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and a second count of possession of a controlled substance.

The Herald on Tuesday sought information on Mathis' criminal case from the Lee County Clerk of Court's office and was refused and was referred instead to District Attorney Plez Hardin, who spent much of the day in court and was unable to return phone calls for comment.

Mathis is a former solicitor and defense attorney who launched an unsuccessful bid in 1994 against U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, who at that time represented the Eighth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.