These Louisiana lawyers were the subject of Louisiana Supreme Court disciplinary orders or Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board recommendations made public during the month of January 2014.
Louisiana Supreme Court
- Lonnie R. Smith. The court transferred Mr. Smith to disability inactive status for no announced reasons.
- Felix Anthony DeJean, IV. The court affirmed a ruling of the LADB imposing a public reprimand in In re Felix Anthony Dejean, IV. The LADB imposed a public reprimand on the respondent, principally for a violation of Rule 8.4(b) through committing the criminal act of “simple assault.” More particularly, the board found that the respondent’s threat to the complainant that he was “ready to kick [the complainant’s] ass” was enough to constitute simple assault. Notably, three board members dissented and voted to defer to the hearing committee’s recommended dismissal of the complaint. One dissenter noted that a mere threat is not enough to constitute “assault,” but that the threat must be one that would place a recipient in “reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.” Another dissenter noted that “there is a great deal of distance between unprofessional and wrong conduct, and a disciplinary violation.”
- Alicia Johnson Butler. The court (by consent) suspended Ms. Butler for six months, all deferred. She failed to promptly notify a third party of receipt of funds in which the third party had an interest, failed to hold those funds separate from her personal funds, and misinformed a federal court of the correct amount of a reimbursement owed to her following the settlement of her client’s case.
- Larry E. Pichon. The court (by consent) publicly reprimanded the respondent, who admitted that during his representation of a client, he attempted to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct by requesting that the opposing party sign documents outside of his presence and return them to him to be notarized.
- Mark L. Ross. The court (by consent) suspended the respondent for six months, all deferred. The respondent commingled personal funds with client funds in his client trust account and allowed the account to become overdrawn.
- Phyllis A. Southhall. The court (by consent) indefinitely suspended Ms. Southhall from the practice of law on an interim basis.
- David J. Motter. The court (by consent) suspended Mr. Motter for a year and a day, all deferred. The respondent failed to communicate with a client, failed to hold disputed funds in trust, commingled client funds with personal funds, engaged in conduct constituting a conflict of interest, and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. Chief Justice Johnston dissented and argued that the matter be remanded to a hearing committee.
- Ford J. Dieth. The court (by consent) suspended Mr. Dieth for one year, with all but 90 days deferred. The respondent neglected a legal matter, failed to deposit an advance fee into a client trust account, and incorrectly reported on his trust account disclosure statement that he does not handle client funds.
- Bradley David Meyer. The court (in a deemed-admitted proceeding) permanently disbarred Mr. Meyer. The respondent abandoned his practice, failed to work on several client matters, failed to communicate with his clients and converted unearned fees to his own use. Three justices dissented: Johnson, Weimer and Hughes.
- Gary P. Duplechain. The court (in a deemed-admitted proceeding) suspended Mr. Duplechain for three years. The respondent converted client funds to pay his own business operating expenses, including employee salaries as well as the abstract and title search fees associated with another client’s real estate venture.
- Syed A. Salat. The court denied Mr. Salat’s application for readmission for the fourth time and permanently prohibited him from reapplying in the future. Said the court, “[i]n light of the egregious nature of petitioner’s conduct, including his post-disbarment pattern of deceitful actions occurring over many years, it is abundantly clear petitioner lacks the moral fitness we demand of lawyers admitted in Louisiana.”
- Ermence DeBose-Parent. The court accepted the respondent’s permanent resignation from the practice of law in lieu of discipline. She neglected her clients’ legal matters and failed to properly address the resulting fee disputes with her clients, improperly borrowed money from a client, allowed her client trust account to become overdrawn, and converted client and third-party funds.
- Robert Wayman Tucker, Sr. The court (by consent) publicly reprimanded Mr. Tucker. He neglected a legal matter, failed to adequately communicate with a client, failed to properly withdraw from a representation, and failed to relinquish an un-negotiated settlement check in a timely manner.
- Jeannie Morris. The court (by consent) suspended Ms. Morris for six months, fully deferred. She commingled personal funds with client funds in her client trust account and allowed the account to become overdrawn.
- Andrew C. Christenberry. The court suspended the respondent for one year and one day, all but three months deferred. The respondent neglected two criminal matters, failed to communicate with his clients, failed to timely refund unearned fees and failed to cooperate with the ODC in an investigation.
Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board
- Keisha M. Jones-Joseph. After considering nine counts of alleged misconduct in the formal charges, the Board recommended that the respondent be disbarred. She neglected eight client matters, failed to adequately communicate with those clients, and failed to return several unearned fees. Her conduct caused substantial harm to her clients because they paid for legal services they did not receive. Moreover, she allowed a personal injury claim to prescribe. Finally, the respondent converted client funds by mismanaging her trust account and engaged in a pattern of failing to promptly cooperate with ODC in its investigation of these matters.
Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board Hearing Committees
- Madro Bandaries. Hearing Committee No. 12 recommended that the respondent be suspended for one year with all but three months deferred. The committee found that he filed frivolous pleadings against a former client in several matters.