These lawyers were the subject of Louisiana Supreme Court disciplinary orders or Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board recommendations published during the month of January 2023.
Louisiana Supreme Court
- Jason Bruzik. The court suspended the respondent for one year and one day, deferred in its entirety. The respondent structured his written fee agreement as an hourly-fee arrangement and then routinely treated it as a flat-fee arrangement, included provisions in the fee agreement charging unreasonable and improper fees, included provisions in the fee agreement making the advanced fee non-refundable, failed to deposit clients’ advanced funds into a trust account, and failed to refund unearned fees totaling $3,524.50 to four clients. In doing so, the respondent violated Rules 1.5(a), 1.5(f)(3), 1.15(a), 8.4(a), and 8.4(c).
- Erin L Tyler. The court suspended the respondent for eighteen months, with all but one year deferred. The respondent drove while intoxicated and used cocaine. In doing so, the respondent violated Rules 8.4(a) and 8.4(b).
- Jennifer R. Treadway. The court granted the respondent’s petition for permanent resignation from the practice of law in lieu of discipline. Prior to the Court granting the petition, the ODC was investigating allegations that the respondent engaged in criminal conduct by driving under the influence, disturbing the peace while intoxicated, and battering a police officer. The ODC was also investigating allegations that respondent engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice by failing to appear in court, following notice, for the purpose of addressing the pending criminal charges.
- Stephen J. Simone. The court granted a joint petition for consent discipline and publicly reprimanded the respondent. Prior to entering into the consent discipline agreement, the ODC had commenced an investigation into allegations that respondent mishandled his client trust account. The respondent and the ODC submitted a joint petition for consent discipline in which respondent admitted that his conduct violated Rules 1.15(a), 1.15(b), 1.15(d), and 8.4(a).
- Carl Joseph Rachal. The court suspended the respondent for sixty days, deferred in its entirety. The respondent neglected a client’s legal matter, which resulted in the dismissal of her lawsuit. He then failed to promptly communicate to his client that his malpractice caused the dismissal. In doing so, the respondent violated Rules 1.4 and 8.4(c).
- Neil Dennis WIlliam Montgomery. The court reinstated the petitioner to the practice of law on a conditional basis.
- Joni M. Buquoi. The court granted a joint petition for consent discipline and suspended the respondent from the practice of law for six months, deferred in its entirety. Prior to entering into the consent discipline agreement, the ODC commenced an investigation into allegations that respondent neglected a legal matter, improperly divided legal fees, failed to deposit advanced fees and costs into her client trust account, and commingled her attorney’s fees with client funds in her trust account.
- Richard Forrest White. The court disbarred respondent. The respondent neglected a legal matter and continuously misled the client about the status of the legal matter, engaged in criminal conduct involving illegal drugs, failed to appear for his arraignment and evaded a bench warrant for more than five years, ignored a client’s multiple requests for the return of his file, and failed to cooperate with the ODC in three investigations. In doing so, the respondent violated Rules 1.3, 1.4, 4.3(c), 1.16(d), 8.1(c), 8.4(a), 8.4(b), 8.4(c), and 8.4(d).
- Michael Blake Hale. The court granted a petition for consent discipline and suspended the respondent for one year and one day, retroactive to the date of his interim suspension. Prior to entering into consent discipline, the ODC commenced an investigation into allegations that respondent neglected two legal matters, failed to communicate with two clients, engaged in a conflict of interest, failed to return a client’s file, engaged in criminal conduct, and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
LADB Hearing Committees
- Meredith Benoit. Hearing Committee #46 recommended that the court suspend the respondent from the practice of law for three years. Respondent engaged in the criminal conduct of shoplifting and was arrested twice for speeding, expired insurance, and driving while under suspension. In doing so, respondent violated Rules 8.4(1) and 8.4(b).
- Nicholas Holton. Hearing Committee #54 recommended that the court suspend the respondent for two years. The respondent failed to provide competent representation to clients, failed to fulfill various annual obligations in order to maintain a law license, failed to pursue the legal matters of several clients in a diligent manner, failed to keep those clients informed of the status of their legal matters, failed to withdraw from representation or protect the interests of his clients after being discharged from several matters, failed to cooperate with the ODC in its investigation, and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. In doing so, the respondent violated Rules 1.1, 1.3, 1.4. 3.2, 1.16, 8.1, and 84(d).
- Richard William Huye. Hearing Committee #8 recommended that the court suspended the respondent for six months, fully deferred. The respondent failed to include his city of practice on a bus and a billboard advertisement and the respondent failed to include the LSBA filing number on unsolicited written communications to prospective clients. Further, the respondent did not include a disclosure that a lawyer other than himself may actually handle the matters that originated from the unsolicited communications.
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