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Lawyer: Former probate candidate’s bar complaint dropped

POSTED: January 9, 2014 11:23 p.m.

A former candidate for the Hall County probate judge “has been exonerated of any wrongdoing” in a State Bar of Georgia complaint stemming from a Douglas County dispute over a woman’s 2010 will she helped draw up, said a lawyer involved in the dispute.

Brook Davidson, who works in Gwinnett County Probate Court, had been accused by two siblings — children of Joyce Plybon, the woman Davidson represented — of writing the will to directly benefit their sister, Mary Marvel, also a former client of Davidson’s.

Plybon, who died in April 2011, had a will made in 1990 that sought to divide her estate equally between all three of her children.

The siblings said Davidson’s work on their mother’s will was in spite of “a known conflict of interest” Davidson had in a trial over their mother’s will.

Dorothy Johnson and Glenn Plybon had provided records from the bar complaint to The Times.

The complaint “was ultimately rejected by the state bar,” said Robert Hughes, who represented Marvel in legal actions involving the three children.

Hughes didn’t represent Davidson or have any role in the complaint.

“The other side tried to make a major issue of it,” he said. “I was aware of it because it became intertwined (with) our case.”

State bar officials don’t comment on pending complaints.

Jason Graham, who represented Johnson and Plybon in legal action against Marvel, said he was not involved in the bar complaint, deferring to Plybon and Johnson, who couldn’t be reached for comment.

Douglas County Probate Judge Hal Hamrick determined in July 2012 that the 1990 will should stand, saying the 2010 will was the “product of Mary Marvel’s undue influence, fraud and mistake.”

In his ruling, he also wrote that Davidson’s representation of both Marvel and the siblings’ mother occurred “despite an obvious conflict of interest.”

“As with Ms. Davidson’s other actions,” the judge wrote in his final order, “each document uniformly benefitted her former client, Ms. Marvel.”

Davidson said at the time that she believed she didn’t have a conflict of interest in the case “at all.”

“I would do everything exactly the same; I have that much confidence in the steps that I took,” she said.

“I am confident that my actions were absolutely ethical and appropriate,” Davidson added.

She also noted that she felt the matter was politically motivated, citing the timing of the election.

Davidson, who couldn’t be reached for comment, lost to Patty Walters Laine in a runoff of the Republican primary in August 2012.

Marvel appealed Hamrick’s ruling to Douglas County Superior Court, where a “de novo” review was held, meaning the case was to be heard as if it had never been tried before, Hughes said at the time.

Each side signed a Nov. 13 consent order that admits the 1990 will to probate and evenly divides the estate’s real property.

“From her share of the estate, Marvel shall reimburse the estate $80,000,” the order states.

A Nov. 4 contempt order from Douglas Superior Court Judge David T. Emerson states that Marvel had given “false discovery responses until the court ordered her to provide a full accounting of the (money) that she has received from her mother.”


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