House Speaker David Ralston hires attorney to fight complaint - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

House Speaker David Ralston hires attorney to fight a bar association complaint

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, has hired a private attorney to defend him against charges that as a lawyer he neglected a client and improperly used other clients' escrow funds to help that client pay for living expenses.

The State Bar of Georgia has asked the state Supreme Court to appoint an investigator, known as a special master, to essentially put Ralston's behavior on trial. The speaker faces public reprimand or even disbarment if the court rules against him.

James E. Spence Jr., a veteran Decatur attorney who has frequently represented lawyers facing State Bar trouble, will represent Ralston. He could not be reached for comment Friday. But Ralston's spokesman, Marshall Guest, said Thursday that in the speaker's 34-plus years as a lawyer "he has shown that he cares very deeply about his clients' legal rights."

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