Eddings apologizes for late payment, claims 'unblemished record'

benw@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 12, 2013 

Columbus attorney Michael A. Eddings agreed Thursday to pay a $100 fine and write a letter of apology to a Muscogee Superior Court judge for paying a contempt of court fine late last month.

Mark Shelnutt, one of Eddings' attorneys, said the mutual agreement was worked out over the last couple of days with the district attorney's office and Judge William C. Rumer.

"I'm sure Mr. Eddings is glad the matter has been handled," Shelnutt said when contacted after the agreement. "He's sorry for what transpired. I think the proper resolution was reached."

With $500 already paid for the contempt of court, Eddings has now paid a total of $600 in connection with the charge.

Eddings, a criminal defense attorney, was found in civil contempt of court July 15 for witness tampering in a pending criminal case and fined $500 for obstructing the administration of justice.

Eddings had represented Dimitris Gordon, who was sentenced on July 29 to serve 10 years in prison on three counts of armed robbery and one charge of using a firearm to commit a crime. The La Mexicana restaurant and grocery at 3305 Victory Drive was robbed on Aug. 22, 2012.

Eddings was ordered to pay his fine at the end of Gordon's case, but hadn't paid the fine at the close of business on July 30, a day after the case was resolved. Eddings paid the fine at 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 23, about three hours after he was served notice by a district attorney's office investigator to appear in Rumer's court.

After that hearing, Eddings went to meet Rumer in his chambers, but the judge wasn't there. He then left a receipt for payment of the fine nearby with a clerk in Judge Frank Jordan's office.

Eddings paid the fine after being served with notice of the hearing before Rumer. A contempt hearing was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Thursday before the agreement was reached.

"There was no finding that he was in any kind of willful contempt for missing the hearing," Shelnutt said of the Aug. 23 hearing. "What happened was he has been ordered to pay a $100 fine for being late and simply wrote a letter of apology to say it certainly wasn't his intention to disobey a judge's order or anything like that. He did apologize for the lateness of the payment."

As ordered, Eddings paid the second fine and wrote the letter before 5 p.m. Thursday. In the letter, he said, "I sincerely regret paying the fine late, but I assure you that I meant no disrespect to you personally or to the court."

Eddings also noted that he has practiced in the circuit for about 12 years without a single incident and had several cases before Rumer. The attorney said he has worked hard to maintain a reputation of being a professional and responsible officer of the court.

"I understand how the late payment may be viewed as a departure from my otherwise unblemished record; however, I will ensure the court of my strict compliance with any order or directive that I may receive from the court in the future," he wrote.

In an unrelated matter, Eddings, who worked for years as a high-profile real estate closing attorney, is the subject of an FBI investigation into more than a $1 million shortfall in his real estate closing account. There has been more than $1.5 million in claims from large banks, mortgage companies, individuals and real estate agents stating that the attorney owes them money in connection with real estate transactions.

Related stories:

Local attorney Michael Eddings accused of professional conduct violations

Judge to rule on youthful offender status in case of Russell County teen accused of building bombs

Ledger-Enquirer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service