These Louisiana lawyers were the subject of Louisiana Supreme Court disciplinary orders or Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board recommendations made public during the month of October 2014.
Louisiana Supreme Court
- Christopher S. Bowman. The court ruled that the disciplinary board properly dismissed the formal charges ODC filed against the respondent. The respondent, who was the press spokesperson for the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office, stated that a judge “thwarted” the efforts of the DA’s Office in ruling against the office in a particular case. The disciplinary board found that the respondent did not knowingly make a false statement, that he did not make this statement with reckless disregard for the truth, and that the statement did not concern the qualifications or integrity of the judge.
- Adam Abdalla. The court ordered that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law on an interim basis.
- Roderick T. Morris. The court ordered that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six months. The suspension was deferred, subject to the respondent’s successful completion of a two-year period of supervised probation governed by the conditions set forth in the petition for consent discipline. The respondent commingled client funds, and he allowed his client trust account to become overdrawn.
- Laura Johnson. The court, by consent, publicly reprimanded the respondent for engaging in conduct constituting a conflict of interest.
- John Brewster Ohle, III. The court ordered that the respondent be permanently disbarred. The respondent was convicted in federal court on charges of conspiring to defraud the United States and Bank One. He was also convicted of tax evasion.
- Allen A. Krake. The court ordered that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a year and a day. The respondent practiced law while ineligible to do so because of his failure to maintain his professional obligations, and he also failed to respond to complaints filed by the ODC.
- Howard Nugent. The court granted the respondent’s petition for permanent resignation in lieu of discipline. The respondent was under investigation for commingling and converting client funds.
- Stacy Morris. The court ordered that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for three years, and it also ordered that the respondent provide an accounting and a refund of unearned fees to her former clients. The respondent failed to place unearned funds in a trust account, failed to account for legitimate costs, failed to refund an unearned fee when the representation terminated, commingled client funds, misled the hearing committee as to the existence of her trust account, and failed to account for unearned funds.
- Claude C. Lightfoot, Jr. The court accepted Mr. Lightfoot’s permanent resignation in lieu of discipline.
- Jennifer Matte. The court transferred the respondent to disability inactive status.
- Rickey K. Swift. The court, by consent, publicly reprimanded Mr. Swift. It found that the respondent filed a frivolous lawsuit, engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and threatened to bring disciplinary charges against an attorney solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter.
- Kevin Lenn Hanchey. The court permanently disbarred the respondent. The court found that respondent neglected legal matters, failed to communicate with clients, attempted to settle a malpractice claim without informing the client in writing to seek advice from outside counsel, practiced law while ineligible, and failed to cooperate with the ODC in its investigations. Worse still, he mishandled his client trust account, causing overdrafts to occur, he failed to pay his clients’ third party medical providers, resulting in harm to his clients. Additionally, and most egregiously, the court found that the respondent was involved in a scheme to defraud a chiropractic clinic, which resulted in his clients’ chiropractor bills not being paid from their settlement funds.
- Wade P. Richard. The court permanently disbarred the respondent. The defendant had been arrested for possession with intent to distribute 200 Xanax tablets. Although he pled guilty to a misdemeanor, the court permanently disbarred him because he had a prior criminal history and a prior disbarment. Said the court: “Regardless of the fact that respondent’s misconduct may not definitively fit any of the specific permanent disbarment guidelines, his conduct demonstrates a clear lack of moral fitness. His behavior continues to place the public at risk and tarnish the image of the legal profession. In order to protect the public and maintain the high standards of the legal profession in this state, we find respondent should not be allowed the opportunity to return to the practice of law in the future.”
- Don L. Simmons, Jr. The court, on consent, disolved the respondent’s interim suspension, which was imposed in August 2012.
Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board
- Steven L. Rushing.The board recommended that the respondent be permanently disbarred. While suspended from the practice of law, the respondent entered a guilty plea in response to charges of mail fraud. The mail fraud charges stemmed from the respondent’s use of the United States Postal Service to convert client funds previously earmarked to pay healthcare providers out of a settlement.
- Gregory S. Duhy. The board recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a year and a day, all but three months deferred. The respondent failed to respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority, and he also failed to cooperate with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in its investigation of matters before it.
- James A. Gray. The board recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for two years with no period of deferral. The board also recommended that the respondent participate in the fee arbitration process provided by the Louisiana State Bar and return any portion of the fee to his former clients that the arbitrator orders. The respondent neglected several client matters, exhibited “a pattern of behavior” reflecting a lack of competence, diligence and communication, and failed to return client files and to cooperate with ODC.
Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board Hearing Committees
- Charles R. Joiner. Hearing Committee No. 35 recommended that the respondent receive a public reprimand and two years of probation. The respondent failed to exercise basic control and supervision over client trust accounts and his employee. This misconduct allowed the employee to take funds from the accounts for her personal use for several years.
- Frank Fradella. Hearing Committee No. 37 recommended that the respondent be permanently disbarred, and it also recommended that the respondent pay restitution to a former client. The respondent accepted an advance payment to file suit on behalf of his client, but he subsequently neglected the matter and failed to cooperate with ODC’s investigation.