Monday, November 17, 2008
The Louisiana Attorney Discipline Board has recommended that an attorney who had abandoned his law practice after accepting fees (which he did not earn) from five clients be disbarred. The lawyer had failed to participate in the the disciplinary proceeding and thus defaulted on the allegations of misconduct. The clients were involved in domestic relations matters and had relied on the lawyer for help:
In the course of failing to prosecute his client’s matters, failing to properly withdraw from cases, and failing to return his clients’ property, Mr. Hatfield has violated duties owed to his clients, to the legal system, and to the profession. His conduct was both knowing and intentional, as the record reflects he essentially abandoned his practice and later failed to cooperate with ODC’s requests for information. The injury was serious or potentially serious. For example, one of the domestic law cases Mr. Hatfield agreed to handle, but failed to advance, was the interdiction of someone who suffered from a mental disability and who was unable to care for himself. The record provides no basis to support any finding in mitigation. The Board therefore adopts the Hearing Committee’s findings to that effect.