October 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 October 2017.

Louisiana Supreme Court

  1. Robert B. Purser. The court permanently disbarred the respondent.  The court found that the respondent converted client funds, mismanaged his client trust account, neglected legal matters, mistreated clients, and practiced law after being placed on suspension.
  2. Joseph M. Bruno. The court suspended the respondent for a ninety-day period, with all but thirty days deferred. The respondent failed to communicate with a client and neglected that client’s legal matter causing the matter to prescribe.
  3. Richard E. Smith. The court accepted a joint petition for consent discipline and suspended the respondent for one year and one day, with all but sixty days deferred.  The court also ordered two-years of unsupervised probation. The respondent improperly handled his trust account, although the order imposing does not describe the respondent’s conduct in detail.
  4. Mark G. Simmons. The court suspended the respondent for one year and one day, with all but sixty days deferred.  Additionally, the court ordered two years of supervised probation during which the respondent must complete the LSBA’s trust accounting and ethics schools, and must have his trust account audited each quarter.  The respondent neglected a legal matter, failed to communicate with a client, mismanaged a client trust account, and failed to cooperate with the ODC in its investigation.
  5. Michael Louis Martin. The court suspended the respondent for two years.  The respondent commingled and converted client funds, which resulted in potential harm to clients.
  6. Peter Brian Derouen. The court disbarred the respondent. The respondent neglected a client’s settlement, converted funds from the client and a third party relating to that settlement, and failed to cooperate with ODC’s investigation.
  7. Anthony T. Marshall. The court suspended the respondent on an interim basis after the ODC filed a Petition for Interim Suspension for Threat of Harm.
  8. Ronald Seastrunk. The court dismissed all charges against the respondent after finding that the ODC failed to meet its burden of proof.  The court concluded that Rule 3.8(d) (failing to disclose exculpatory evidence) is coextensive with the constitutional discloaure obligations set forth in Brady v. Maryland. For a detailed discussion of this important case, click here.
  9. Mignonne G. Griffing. The court suspended the respondent for one year and one day, with all but six months deferred, followed by a one-year probationary period during which the respondent must complete an additional forty hours of CLE.  The respondent failed to disclose a personal, romantic relationship with an FBI agent while employed as an Assistant United States Attorney.
  10. Adam Anthony Abdalla. The court permanently disbarred the respondent.  The respondent converted approximately $40,000 from his law firm over a period of eighteen months by means of unauthorized checks and fraudulent invoices.

Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board

  1. Dounnisei Gbalazeh. The board recommended that the court suspend the respondent for one year and one day. The Louisiana Supreme Court had previously declared the respondent ineligible to practice due to failing to comply with MCLE requirements and failing to pay bar dues.  Respondent later attempted to represent an immigration client while she was ineligible to practice law in any jurisdiction.

LADB Hearing Committees

  1. Linda Louise Stadler. Hearing Committee #27 recommended a twelve-month suspension, fully deferred.  The respondent had previously pleaded guilty to two DWI charges (one in 2002 and one in 2014). The committee did not find that the respondent had an ongoing alcohol problem requiring treatment.
  2. Errol John Ware. Hearing Committee #23 recommended the permanent disbarment of the respondent.  The committee found that the respondent failed to diligently represent his client, failed to act with candor toward the tribunal and his client, mismanaged funds, and refused to cooperate with the ODC.
  3. Daniel E. Becnel, III. Hearing Committee #8 recommended a one year suspension, with all but sixty days deffered followed by a one-year active period of probation with regular audtis of IOLTA account, six hours of CLE in law office/client trust account management, and completion of LSBA’s trust accounting program.  The committee found that the respondent negligently mishandled his trust account, but that his conduct was neither intentional nor “knowing”.
  4. Chantell Marie Boutte. Hearing Committee #20 recommended the disbarment of the respondent.  The respondent failed to communicate with clients, abandoned her law practice and clients without notice, converted client funds, and failed to properly withdraw from cases.
  5. Timmy James Fontenot. Hearing Committee #22 recommended the disbarment of the respondent.  The respondent forged a client’s settlement check, converted client funds, and failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness.

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