February 2014 Discipline

Louisiana State SealThese Louisiana lawyers were the subject of Louisiana Supreme Court disciplinary orders or Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board recommendations made public during the month of February 2014.

Louisiana Supreme Court

  1. Anthony Hollis. The court adopted an LADB recommendation and disbarred the respondent. He failed to provide competent representation to his clients, neglected legal matters, failed to communicate, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, abandoned his clients, and failed to cooperate with ODC’s investigation.
  2. Stacey L. Thomas. The court reciprocally (Alabama) suspended the respondent for a period of 180 days. She failed to remit to her client $280 in funds received from collecting a judgment, and failed to deposit those funds into (or even to have) an IOLTA trust account. Furthermore, she neglected client matters.
  3. Royal L. Colbert. The court (by consent) publicly reprimanded the respondent for notarizing a document outside the presence of the signatory.
  4. Philip Montelepre. The court (by consent) publicly reprimanded the respondent for practicing law while ineligible to do so.
  5. Joan S. Benge. The Louisiana Supreme Court reinstated former Jefferson Parish judge Joan S. Benge after a three-year suspension from the practice of law. In 2009, the court removed her from office for deciding a case based on her relationship with one of the lawyers rather than on the merits.
  6. Gregory J. Lewis, Jr. The court (by consent) suspended the respondent for six months, fully deferred. He misued his client trust account and failed to remit funds owed to a third-party medical provider.
  7. Hugh D. Aldige. The court (by consent) suspended the respondent for six months, all but thirty days deferred. He. notarized and filed an affidavit in a succession proceeding that he knew or should have know contained false information.
  8. Darien Lester. The court extended the respondent’s period for seeking readmission for readmission an additional two years (the respondent was already disbarred). He neglected legal matters, failed to communicate with clients, failed to refund unearned fees, failed to cooperate with the ODC in its investigations, and was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substances (hydrocodone and marijuana).
  9. Jeff David Easley. The court conditionally readmitted the applicant to the practice of law after his previous conditional admission was revoked in 2012. (He had previously tested positive for alcohol use while participating in LAP.) The court readmitted him on proof of one year of sobriety and successful participation in LAP.
  10. Seth Cortigene and Newton B. Schwartz, Sr. The court found that Scwartz, a lawyer not admitted in Louisiana, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by appearing at a Louisiana deposition. The court found that Cortigene facilitated Schwartz’s unauthorized practice, and failed to report it to the ODC. The court disbarred Cortigne. The court enjoined Schwartz for a period of three years from seeking admission to practice law in Louisiana on either a permanent or temporary basis. In so doing, it answered in the affirmative what it considered to be a res nova issue, that is, whether the court has the authority to impose discipline on a lawyer not admitted to the bar of Louisiana.
  11. Danny Wayne Sylvester, Jr. The court accepted the permanent resignation of the respondent in lieu of discipline. At the time, the ODC was investigating him for allegedly handling client funds improperly.
  12. Samantha R. Ackers. The court (by consent) suspended the respondent for a year and a day. She negligently commingled and converted client funds, and charged her client legal fees for nonlegal services.
  13. Murphy Fairfax Bell, Jr. The court (by consent) suspended the respondent for a year and a day, all deferred. He commingled personal funds with client funds in his trust account, and converted client and third-party funds.
  14. Michael L. Jackson. The court (by consent) suspended the respondent for a year and a day, all deferred. He commingled personal funds with client funds in his trust account, and converted client and third party funds.
  15. Francis C. Broussard. The court (by consent) indefinitely suspended the respondent.
  16. Ryan Andrew Beason. The court (by consent) suspended the respondent for a year and a day, with all but 90 days deferred. He practiced law while ineligible to do so.
  17. Alphonse M. Thompson, Jr. The court (by consent) publicly reprimanded the defendant for failing to properly supervise a nonlawyer assistant and mishandling his client trust account.

Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board

No board recommendations were made public in February 2014.

Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board Hearing Committees

  1. Christopher S. Bowman. A divided Hearing Committee No. 8 recommended the dismissal of formal charges against Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Christopher S. Bowman. ODC charged Bowman with violating Rule 8.2(a), which prohibits a lawyer from making “a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge . . . .” ODC faulted Bowman for commenting on a not-guilty verdict by Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Arthur L. Hunter, more particularly, for stating that “District Attorney Cannizzaro has fought hard to eliminate corruption, and unfortunately Arthur Hunter thwarted our efforts today.” Id. The hearing committee found that the statement “cannot be said to be false,” because [a]ny not guilty verdict could be said to have thwarted the DA.” It further found that Bowman made the statement spontaneously in response to a reporter’s telephone call and it therefore was not “premeditated” or “reckless.” Finally, the committee found that in stating that Hunter “thwarted” crime control efforts, Bowman did not necessarily imply that the judge lacked integrity or was corrupt.
  2. Wade P. Richard. Hearing Committee No. 7 found that the respondent (a disbarred lawyer) knowingly and intentionally possessed drugs with the intent to distribute. It recommended that he remain disbarred.
  3. William Harrell Arata. Hearing Committee No. 27 found that the respondent possessed cocaine and hydrocodone, and that his possession of such drugs was felonious. He subsequently signed a LAP agreement and was compliant. It recommended that the court suspend the respondent for a period of three years, all deferred, conditioned on continued LAP participation.
  4. Scott Robert Hymel. Hearing Committee No. 57 found that the respondent failed to communicate, failed to refund unearned fees, and failed to diligently move a client’s case along. He also failed to cooperate with ODC’s investigation. The committee recommended that the court suspend the respondent for a period of one year.
  5. John D. Conry. Hearing Committee No. 56 found that the respondent knowingly converted client property on multiple occasions, and failed to employ reasonable diligence and to communicate with his clients. It recommended that the court disbar the respondent.
  6. James Hamilton Dowling, Jr. Hearing Committee No. 37, in a deemed-admitted proceeding, found that the respondent engaged in the practice of law while ineligible, failed to diligently represent a client in an expungement matter, and failed to return an unearned fee. It recommended that the court disbar the respondent.
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