March 2017 Discipline

These lawyers were the subject of Louisiana Supreme Court disciplinary orders or Louisiana Attorney
Disciplinary Board recommendations that were made public during the month of March 2017.

Louisiana Supreme Court

  1. Ashton R. O’Dwyer, Jr. The court permanently disbarred the respondent and permanently prohibited him from being readmitted to practice law in the State of Louisiana. The court found that the respondent violated multiple rules of professional conduct in conjunction with a class action suit regarding Hurricane Katrina claims. He filed an initial handwritten pleading that included unsupported allegations against governmental agencies, elected officials, and others, under a litany of federal and state law theories. Finally, the respondent sent a racially-charged letter to a local judge and engaged in the unauthorized practice of law when he forged his cousin’s name on a pleading.
  2. Robert R. Earle. The court granted a Joint Petition for Transfer to Disability Inactive Status.

Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board

  1. Johnny S. Anzalone. The board recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one year and one day retroactive to the date of his interim suspension. The respondent was found guilty of one DWI and pleaded guilty to another DWI in the course of three years. In the first instance, he had a drug screening that was positive for cocaine and methadone; in the second instance, he admitted to using methamphetamines.
  2. Richard R. Fisher. The board recommended that the respondent be publicly reprimanded and required to attend the Louisiana State Bar Association Trust Accounting School. The respondent was charged with commingling personal funds with those of his clients. An accounting of the respondent’s client trust account showed that he routinely used client trust funds to pay personal debts and bills.
  3. James E. Moorman, III. The board recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for three years and ordered to pay restitution. The respondent filed a joint stipulation with the ODC in which he acknowledged misconduct on 11 client complaints. During the three-month period that the violations occurred, the respondent was severely depressed and entered a treatment facility. The various charges included: failure to return unearned fees, failure to zealously represent the clients, converting client funds for his own use, and failure to adequately supervise non-lawyer employees.
  4. Elise MaryBeth LaMartina. The board recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of three years. The respondent pleaded guilty to shoplifting and failed to respond to the ODC investigation. Prior to this arrest, the respondent was found guilty of unauthorized access to a public school, resisting arrest, and shoplifting.
  5. Candace P. Howay. The board recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one year and one day and pay restitution to her former employer. The respondent converted $1,800.00 of her former employer’s funds to pay interest on a bank loan for her mother’s company.
  6. Toby James Aucoin. The board recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one year and one day and ordered to pay restitution. The respondent failed to communicate with his client, failed to file a petition on behalf of his client, failed to return unearned fees, and failed to respond to the ODC investigation.
  7. Adam Anthony Abdalla. The board recommended that the respondent be disbarred from the practice of law for stealing nearly $40,000.00 of his former employer’s funds. The respondent stipulated to the theft and noted that during the period the theft occurred, the respondent was suffering from an opioid addiction. He has since attended and completed drug rehabilitation.
  8. Stacy L. Morris. The board recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of three years to run consecutively with an ongoing suspension and ordered to pay restitution. In handling a personal injury case, the respondent failed to pay a medical provider out of the settlement funds. At the hearing, the respondent stated that she was unable to account for these funds and failed to cooperate with the ODC investigation.
  9. Janinne Latrell Gilbert. The board recommended that the respondent’s disbarment be continued and that the time period for seeking readmission be extended by five years. The respondent was disbarred in March 2016 for neglecting legal matters, failing to communicate with clients, failing to account for or refund unearned fees, failing to properly withdraw from a representation, engaging in dishonest conduct, and failing to cooperate with the ODC in its investigations. These new charges include failure to communicate with the client, neglecting legal matters, the unauthorized practice of law (because the respondent appeared in court while disbarred), and failure to cooperate with the ODC investigation.
  10. Kenneth Todd Wallace. The board recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one year, retroactive to the date of his interim suspension. To increase his stature within his law firm, the respondent falsified internal firm billing records by falsely reporting billable hours on contingency fee matters that had been closed.

LADB Hearing Committees

  1. Peter Brian Derouen. Hearing Committee #5 recommended that the respondent be disbarred for multiple violations arising out of his handling of a personal injury suit. The respondent failed to disburse money owed to third parties upon receipt of a settlement check, failed to turn over client files once terminated, converted over $18,000.00 in client funds, and failed to cooperate with the ODC investigation.
  2. Timmy James Fontenot. Hearing Committee #20 recommended that the respondent be disbarred as a result of several rule violations in his representation of personal-injury clients. The respondent settled claims without informing his clients and forged their signatures on releases with the insurance company. Further, the respondent falsely told his clients that the settlement payments would be made in installments when the insurance company actually paid the settlement in a lump-sum.
  3. Dounnisei Gbalazeh. Hearing Committee #3 recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year and one day. The respondent was declared ineligible to practice law in 2008 for failure to comply with the trust accounting requirements. She thereafter engaged in the unauthorized practice of law on two separate occasions when she tried to enroll as counsel of record in immigration proceedings.
  4. Harold D. Register, Jr. Hearing Committee #20 recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for three years followed by a two year probationary period and ordered to pay restitution. The respondent was the subject of two separate charges citing the following rule violations: upon receipt of settlement funds, the respondent failed to disburse money to the client or third parties and, instead, converted the property for an extended period. He also failed to provide adequate representation by failing to answer pleadings filed by the opposing party and by failing to attend a scheduled court appearance.
  5. Lionel Burns. Hearing Committee #12 recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for two years, one year to be deferred and, upon reinstatement, that he serve a two-year supervised probationary period. The respondent facilitated the unauthorized practice of law when he allowed his paralegal to participate in a pretrial conference and to engage in settlement negotiations with the opposing party. Further, the respondent filed a false qualifying document to become a candidate for Orleans Parish District Attorney, particularly, a false affidavit stating that he had properly filed tax returns with the proper authorities.

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