The following Louisiana lawyers were the subject of disciplinary orders or recommendations made public during the month of September 2013.
Louisiana Supreme Court
- Herman J. Mouton, Jr. The court denied (without written reasons) the petitioner’s application for readmission. Note that the board had previously recommended his conditional readmission.
- Michael J. Riley, Sr. The court denied (without written reasons) the petitioner’s application for readmission. Note that the board had previously recommended his conditional readmission.
- Derek Dave Gambino. The court (by consent) transferred Mr. Gambino to disability inactive status.
- Charles D. Jones. The court disbarred the respondent for providing incompetent representation to two clients, for failing to supervise his nonlawyer staff and for being convicted of felony federal tax evasion (a crime for which he received a sentence that included a 27-month term of imprisonment).
- John D. Ray. The court suspended the respondent for a period of one year and one day, with all but sixty days deferred. Over the course of several years, Mr. Ray failed timely to pay bar dues and disciplinary assessments. On one occasion, he was declared to be MCLE ineligible. He practiced law during most of his periods of ineligibility.
- Bruce A. Craft. The court accepted the respondent’s permanent resignation from the practice of law in the wake an ODC investigation into his pattern of accepting fees from clients, failing to complete the agreed upon legal tasks, and then failing or refusing to refund the unearned fees.
- Jose W. Vega. The court imposed discipline reciprocal to that imposed in Texas for failure to diligently work cases and communicate with clients, namely a public reprimand and restitution of fees.
- Bruce Ashley, II. The court (by consent) suspended the respondent for six months, all deferred, for neglect and lack of communication.
- Rodney A. Brignac. The court (by consent) suspended the respondent for a year and a day for a DWI arrest.
- Maria Del Carmen Calvo Broce. The court (by consent) suspended the respondent for six months, all deferred, for commingling personal funds in her trust account in violation of Rule 1.15.
- C. Hunter King. The court, by a 5-2 vote, readmitted the petitioner to the bar after a five-year period of disbarment for a criminal conviction (later expunged) arising out of campaign misconduct as a New Orleans Civil District Court judge and then lying about it to the Louisiana Judiciary Commission.
- Christopher Minias. The court granted a petition for permission to sit for bar examination to applicant who did not follow rules during first sitting by failing to stop when time was called on Code I exam. The court adopted a commissioner’s finding that the infraction did not reflect intent to cheat.
- George J. Forest, Jr. The court granted a joint petition to transfer Mr. Forest to disability inactive status.
- Robert Lawrence Kurt. The court accepted the petitioner’s voluntary resignation from the practice of law.
- Neil D. Sweeney. The court imposed (by consent) a fully-deferred one year suspension on the respondent for failure to properly supervise his nonlawyer employees.
- Damon J. Baldone. The court imposed (by consent) a public reprimand for the respondent’s failure to properly supervise his nonlawyer employees, which resulted in his clients being charged excessive interest on advances for living expenses.
- William C. Monroe. The court imposed (by consent) a public reprimand for the respondent’s misuse of his client trust account by keeping his earned fees and other personal funds in the account, and by paying his secretary’s salary directly from the account.
- Richard G. Fowler. The court imposed (by consent) a public reprimand for the respondent’s failure to properly supervise his nonlawyer staff, which led to errors in the handling of his client trust account.
Attorney Disciplinary Board
- M. Randall Donald. The LADB recommended that the court suspend the respondent for six months, fully deferred. The respondent failed to diligently advance clients’ matters, failed to communicate with them and failed to resolve a dispute over fees.
- Seth Cortigene & Newton B. Schwartz, Sr. The LADB recommended that the court disbar Seth Cortigene. Furthermore, it publicly reprimanded Newton B. Schwartz, who was not a member of the Louisiana bar, and permanently enjoined him from the practice of law in Louisiana. The respondents provided improper loans to clients. Schwartz (with Cortigene’s assistance) engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in Louisiana and improperly solicited clients.
- Thomas Robert Schmidt. The LADB recommended that the court suspend the respondent for one year and one day with all but thirty days deferred. The respondent failed to complete his clients’ legal matters, failed to return unearned fees, failed to return client files and failed to cooperate with ODC.
- 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. Three board members, however, 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.”
- Byrlyne June Van Dyke. The LADB recommended that the court disbar the respondent for multiple acts of misconduct, including neglecting client matters and a federal felony conviction for aggravated identity theft. Because the respondent had a “mental breakdown that was the result of significant trauma” and because several other mitigating factors existed, the board declined to recommend permanent disbarment (as requested by ODC).
- Robert David Hairford. The LADB recommended that the court disbar the respondent for abandoning his law practice and causing serious harm to at least four clients. Moreover, the respondent also spent time in jail for failing to pay his court-ordered debts to his ex-wife and children.
Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board Hearing Committees
- Jean Marie Lacobee. LADB Hearing Committee No. 17 recommended that the petitioner’s application for reinstatement be denied. Among other reasons for the unfavorable recommendation, the petitioner had not proved that a “mental disability or infirmity which existed at the time of the suspension has been removed.” It further found that she had not paid outstanding disciplinary costs.
- Walter W. Gerhardt. A LADB hearing committee sitting in Shreveport recommended that the petitioner’s application for reinstatement be granted.
- Kenner O. Miller, Jr. LADB Hearing Committee No. 01 recommended that the respondent be permanently disbarred for commingling and converting $208,260.83 that was “entrusted to him as a practicing attorney.” The respondent also failed to respond to the formal charges.
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