Charleston SC lawyer fired after Capitol riot charges

Fatima Fokina

A Charleston lawyer with the George Sink personal injury law firm who faces federal charges in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot said Tuesday he intends to fight the charges and has been fired by the firm.

“George Sink, P.A., injury lawyers, fired me before I was out of the courthouse,” said lawyer David “Dave” Johnston in a statement released by his attorney, Randy Hough.

“I have voluntarily consented to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (the lawyers’ disciplinary group, an arm of the S.C. Supreme Court) placing my law license on suspended status because I do not think it is fair for the Bar to be presented with the difficulty of dealing with this politically charged matter,” Johnston, 69, continued.

“I intend to plead not guilty to these charges and look forward to my day in court.”

The FBI on Friday arrested Johnston and a friend, Chadwick “Chad” Gordon Clifton, 47, on federal charges they stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Both are now free on $25,000 unsecured bond.

Evidence collected against the two men includes photos and cellphone records that place them inside the Capitol.

Both are charged with misdemeanor offenses of entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in any of the Capitol buildings. Neither Johnston nor Clifton was charged with more serious crimes, such as damaging property inside the Capitol or resisting police.

George Sink and his law firm, which advertises heavily around South Carolina and has offices statewide, did not respond to repeated messages left Monday and Tuesday at the firm.

Johnston’s biographical information, a photo and video disappeared from the law firm’s site, noticed by a reporter Monday. That information had been visible Friday along with information about 40 other Sink lawyers. One of Johnston’s specialties was representing people injured in motorcycle crashes.

All lawyers in South Carolina must take an oath, which includes the words, “I will, to the best of my ability, discharge those duties and will preserve, protect, and defend that Constitution of this state and of the United States,” according to the rules governing issuance of law license to South Carolina lawyers.

Johnston was the first South Carolina attorney charged in connection with the riot on Jan. 6, when pro-Trump supporters attempted to prevent Congress from formally certifying the electoral vote victory by President Joe Biden in the November 2020 election.

So far, 16 people from South Carolina, including a Citadel cadet, a garage operator and a long-distance truck driver, have been arrested in connection with the riot.

More than 800 people around the nation face charges stemming from the Jan. 6 riot in what has been called the largest investigation ever by the U.S. Justice Department.

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John Monk has covered courts, crime, politics, public corruption, the environment and other issues in the Carolinas for more than 40 years. A U.S. Army veteran who covered the 1989 American invasion of Panama, Monk is a former Washington correspondent for The Charlotte Observer. He has covered numerous death penalty trials, including those of the Charleston church killer, Dylann Roof, serial killer Pee Wee Gaskins and child killer Tim Jones. Monk’s hobbies include hiking, books, languages, music and a lot of other things.

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