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New Hanover Co. Commission Chairwoman offers to repay $20,000 to client after he filed complaint with state bar

A law firm representing Boseman says they are ready and willing to pay Holyfield the money he paid Boseman
Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 3:47 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - It’s been about six months since the public learned about the investigation by the North Carolina State Bar into New Hanover County Chairwoman Julia Olson-Boseman. The investigation began after a former client, Gary Holyfield, filed a complaint with the state against his attorney after Boseman took thousands from him, but never filed any case on his behalf.

Now, a law firm representing Boseman says they are ready and willing to pay Holyfield the money he paid Boseman.

Holyfield hired Boseman to represent him following a fatal car accident that took the lives of two children. He ended up paying her $20,000 to file a lawsuit with the hopes of getting the state to install guardrails to avoid future accidents --- but more than a year later, Holyfield said Boseman wouldn’t return his calls and he couldn’t find anything filed on his behalf.

After months of no word, Holyfield filed his complaint hoping for answers as to why his attorney wouldn’t call him back, and what happened to his money.

According to Boseman, she retired from law back in January of 2020.

“I am not aware of any complaint or police report that has been filed and am not at liberty to discuss any past clients. I retired from the practice of law Jan. 1 of this year,” Boseman said in an email to WECT earlier this year.

However, Boseman’s law license is still active according to the NCSB.

Holyfield said he was never told about her retirement and he never had any sort of closure of his case.

According to Holyfield, Boseman has now offered to pay him back $20,000. Holyfield received a phone call the week of Thanksgiving from Attorney Amy Richardson saying Boseman would like to return the $20,000 fee – but so far, he has not accepted the money.

In an email, Richardson followed up with Holyfield in writing Boseman’s desire to return his money.

“This email follows up on our call from Wednesday (11/24/2021). I attempted to contact you by phone again, but it appears your voicemail is full. As we discussed on the phone, Julia Boseman would like to return your $20,000 fee. I have the money my law firm’s trust account to send to you. Can you please either send me wiring instructions to your bank account or provide me with an address for where I can mail a check? If we mail the check, we will send the check via a service the requires tracking in order to make sure it arrives,” she wrote.

Boseman, who previously has refused to speak with reporters about the allegations, did address the current situation in an email. She responded to questions from WECT, although she was limited in what she was able to say since she is still bound by attorney-client privilege.

She offered four bullet points of explanation saying:

  • “I only learned that Mr. Holyfield was unhappy with my representation after I saw comments in the press.”
  • “I never want a client to feel that I did not appropriately handle a matter. While I believe I acted appropriately, as a sign of good faith, I offered – through my counsel ‒ to return the fees in the matter.”
  • “I am no longer actively practicing law. I cannot comment on Mr. Holyfield’s matter as my work is covered by the attorney client privilege.”
  • “I wish Mr. Holyfield and his family the best.”

For the time being, Holyfield is still deciding what to do. He said it is more than just about the money, he wants answers and accountability for Boseman’s actions.

The State Bar has been unable to provide WECT with any updates into the investigation. In fact, they won’t even confirm they are investigating Boseman. WECT does know they are investigating her since they confirmed it to Holyfield in writing at the end of July.

In a letter to Holyfield, Robert Weston, deputy counsel for the NCSB, provided a general update as to how the process works and what can be expected after the initial investigation wraps up.

“The grievance will then be forwarded to the chair of the grievance committee for his review,” Weston wrote. “If he determines the evidence does not show a violation of the rules of professional conduct, it will be reviewed by another member of the grievance committee. If that member concurs then the grievance will be dismissed at that point. If the chair of the grievance committee believes the evidence may show a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, then the grievance will be sent forward to be considered by the Grievance Committee at its next available quarterly meeting. The Grievance Committee will then review the grievance and determine whether the evidence establishes a rule violation by the applicable burden of proof and, if so, what discipline if any is appropriate.”

Yet another question that has arisen since the start of this investigation is the status of Boseman’s law firm. She claims she retired in January of 2021, however, following a fire in Carolina Beach there were claims that Boseman was representing victims in the fire, and trying to get more.

When asked about her role in representing people in the fire, Boseman did not say she was retired, instead, she refused to give a clear answer.

“...As far as who I may be representing, if anyone, is attorney/client privileged,” she said in an email to WECT.

There are other questions still.

According to federal filings published by Pro Publica, Boseman received a federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan in February of 2021 for around $12,000. But if Boseman retired in January, it is not clear what that loan was used for. When asked about the PPP loan, Boseman did not respond.

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