South Carolina’s highest court has upheld the 30-month suspension of Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster’s brother from practicing law after a pair of alcohol-related arrests several years ago, according to court documents released earlier this week.
The Supreme Court’s suspension of Frank McMaster is a retroactive move that dates back to March 2014 and allows him to resume work immediately contingent upon him going through an alcohol rehabilitation program. However, McMaster must continue seeing a psychiatrist and get treatment for at least another two years.
Frank McMaster was arrested in April 2013 for driving under the influence, hit-and-run and giving an improper signal. The hit-and-run charge was later dismissed after he pleaded guilty to the other two counts. Only 10 months after his first arrest, McMaster was arrested a second time and charged with use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs; disorderly conduct; and damaging or tampering with a vehicle. He later pleaded down to unlawful carrying of a pistol.
The South Carolina’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel placed McMaster on interim suspension after his second arrest. While meeting with the ODC, McMaster admitted alcohol abuse he said was induced by depression from a dissolving marriage. During his suspension, he sought help from a physician and signed a two year monitoring agreement with Lawyers Helping Lawyers which required he remain alcohol-free and actively participate in Alcoholics Anonymous by attending at least two meetings per week.
A Commission on Lawyer Conduct panel took steps to reinstate McMaster’s ability to practice law once 30 months elapsed from his second arrest — which would be September 2016. McMaster had to meet several conditions, including completion of an ethics program and continuing psychiatric treatment and abstaining from alcohol. The Supreme Court upheld the commission’s recommendations on Wednesday.
The elder brother Henry McMaster is in line to become South Carolina’s next governor when current Gov. Nikki Haley resigns her position to become the next United Nations ambassador.