On May 4, 2022, the Louisiana Supreme Court amended the rules governing the available sanctions for lawyer misconduct. More particularly, the court amended LASC Rule 19, Section 10(A)(1) as follows:
Disbarment by the court. In any order or judgment of the court in which a lawyer is disbarred, the court retains the discretion to permanently disbar the lawyer and permanently prohibit any such lawyer from being readmitted to the practice of law. However, the court shall only impose permanent disbarment upon an express finding of the presence of the following factors: (1) the lawyer’s misconduct is so egregious as to demonstrate a convincing lack of ethical and moral fitness to practice law; and (2) there is no reasonable expectation of significant rehabilitation in the lawyer’s character in the future. See also Appendix D, Guidelines Depicting Conduct Which Might Warrant Permanent Disbarment, Suggested by The Committee to Study Permanent Disbarment; Commentary of the Court to accompany Order dated July 19, 2001 amending Rule XIX; and Commentary of the Court to accompany Order dated May 4, 2022.
See Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XIX, Section 10(A).
The court provided the following comment to clarify the effect of the rule change:
The amendments to Supreme Court Rule XIX, Section 10(A)(1) do not represent a substantive change to the rules applicable to permanent disbarment, but instead serve to codify factors which have long been recognized by the court’s jurisprudence. See, e.g., In re Abel, 2019-1420 (La. 11/19/19), 307 So. 3d 165, 174 (explaining permanent disbarment was appropriate because “the misconduct set forth in the formal charges clearly demonstrates that respondent lacks the fitness to engage in the practice of law in this state” and “[i]n the face of this indisputable evidence of a fundamental lack of moral character and fitness, we can conceive of no circumstance under which we would ever grant readmission to respondent.”). By explicitly codifying these factors, the amendments will provide improved guidance to the parties, hearing committees and disciplinary board. It should be noted these factors are not intended to displace the discretionary guidelines found in Appendix D, Guidelines Depicting Conduct Which Might Warrant Permanent Disbarment, but instead serve as overarching considerations in determining whether imposition of permanent disbarment is warranted.
The court also amended LASC Rule 19, Section 24(A) to reiterate that the court retains the discretion to permanently disbar a Louisiana lawyer. See Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XIX, Sec. 24(A). See Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XIX, Sec. 24(A) (“The court retains the discretion, in accordance with Section 10A of this rule, to permanently disbar a lawyer and permanently prohibit any such lawyer from being readmitted to the practice of law.”)