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Divided court votes to reinstate Columbia attorney

By: David Donovan//August 14, 2019

Divided court votes to reinstate Columbia attorney

By: David Donovan//August 14, 2019


Attorney: Howard B. Hammer

Location: Columbia

Bar membership: Member since 1971

Disciplinary action: Reinstated to the practice of law on June 3

Background: Hammer was suspended from the practice of law for one year on March 30, 2016, retroactive to the date of his interim suspension in June 2012. In 2012, Hammer was charged with first degree assault and battery, malicious injury to personal property, hit and run or leaving the scene with property damage, and unlawful conduct towards a child. The charges resulted from an incident involving a process server who was attempting to serve documents on Hammer in connection with a family court proceeding. During the incident, Hammer, who was with his two sons, twice made contact with the process server’s vehicle while backing his car out of a parking space. Hammer left the scene, but later returned. In 2014, Hammer pleaded guilty pursuant to an Alford plea to leaving the scene with property damage. He was sentenced to 364 days in prison, suspended upon six months’ probation. The remaining charges were dismissed. Hammer filed a petition for reinstatement, and the Supreme Court granted his request. Justice John Few dissented from the court’s decision to grant the petition.

Previous discipline: Hammer was suspended for six months in November 2011. Hammer had filed a pro se action against the City of Columbia alleging false arrest. He subpoenaed a neighbor who had not witnessed any of the relevant events, but who had filed an affidavit in support of Hammer’s ex-wife during Hammer’s divorce. During the deposition, Hammer asked the neighbor a number of improper questions, including about the neighbor’s sexual orientation and medical history. Hammer was also placed on interim suspension in June 2008 as a result of the criminal domestic violence charges that gave rise to the lawsuit. Those charges were later dismissed.

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