Four-letter words. Race-baiting comments that could spark a race riot. Put-downs of women.
For a series of insulting, foul, incendiary and decidedly unlawyerly comments published on his public Facebook page, an S.C. lawyer will have his law license suspended for six months, the State Supreme Court ruled this week.
Lawyer David Paul Traywick of the Charleston area must also undergo “a comprehensive anger management assessment with a licensed mental health doctor or therapist” and take a one-hour diversity class, the high court ruled.
Efforts to reach Traywick for comment were unsuccessful.
Beginning in June 2020, the high court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC), which investigates complaints against lawyers by the public and members of the legal profession, received complaints from 46 different individuals about Traywick’s public Facebook posts.
On his Facebook page, Traywick identified himself as a lawyer and referenced his law firm, the opinion said.
From the 46 complaints, the ODC identified 12 of Traywick’s posts that “tended to bring the legal profession into disrepute” and violated the Lawyer’s Oath, which requires lawyers to “maintain the dignity of the legal system,” the opinion said.
“All 12 of (Traywick’s) statements are troubling,” said the opinion.
The opinion singled out two posts in particular.
The first post, on April 5, 2020, concerned what the court called an “offensive comment” that Traywick posted to Facebook about tattoos and women, the Supreme Court said.
“In the comment, he challenged his readers, ‘Prove me wrong. Pro tip: you can’t,’“ the opinion quoted Traywick as saying.
“A reader wrote back suggesting (Traywick) prove he was right regarding his theory about tattoos,” the opinion said.
Traywick then replied that his general statement about tattoos “has exceptions, such as for bikers, sailors, convicts or infantry. But these college-educated, liberal suburbanites. No, the rule was written for these boring MF’s. And they are everywhere. F ‘em. Especially these females, Jesus Christ!”
Another Traywick post was published on June 3, 2020 — days after George Floyd, an unarmed Black Minnesota man, died after a police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, cutting off his airway. That officer, Derek Chauvin, was found guilty of murder in April. He awaits sentencing.
Traywick, who is white, posted, “Here’s how much that s—stain’s life actually mattered: Stock futures up. Markets moved higher Monday and Tuesday. F— you. Unfriend me,” the opinion said.
In the opinion, the Supreme Court called the statements “expressly incendiary” and were “intended to incite and had the effect of inciting, gender and race-based conflict beyond the scope of the conversation Respondent would otherwise have with his Facebook ‘friends.’”
The court continued, “We find this statement was intended to incite intensified racial conflict not only in Respondent’s Facebook community, but also in the broader community of Charleston and beyond,” the court said.
“We hold this statement in particular tended to bring the legal profession into disrepute, violated the letter and spirit of the Lawyer’s Oath, and constitutes grounds for discipline,” the court said.
In a four-page June 18 opinion, the state’s high court said Traywick admitted to misconduct and agreed to a six-month suspension and payment to cover the investigation.
Traywick must also report any mental health assessments and recommendations from specialists to the state’s Commission on Lawyer Conduct, a group of lawyers that investigate allegations of lawyer misconduct or impaired performance.
A lawyers’ directory says that Traywick grew up on the Isle of Palms, graduated from the private school Porter Gaud and attended Clemson University and the University of South Carolina.
South Carolina’s five-member Supreme Court is diverse. It has one Black male justice, one white female associate justice and three white male associate justices.
The high court’s opinion about Traywick was unanimous.