Monday, July 13, 2009
The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board agreed with a hearing committee that charges of ethics violations had not been proven. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel had appealed the proposed dismissal of charges that the attorney had violated the business transaction with a client rule and engaged in dishonest conduct.
The attorney and complainant were childhood friends. The complainant was a partner in a barbeque restaurant business that operated under the name Podnuh's, Inc. The attorney and complainant became reacquainted in 1986. They regularly ate lunch together and were frequent golfing partners. The attorney had provided a variety of legal services to the complainant over the years.
The attorney drew up a will for the complainant. When the complainant came in to execute the will, the attorney secured his agreement to make an investment in a billiard parlor named Clicks. The bar charges alleged that the arrangement violated Rule 1.8(a). The board here agreed with the hearing committee that the evidence did not establish that there was an attorney-client relationship with respect to the Clicks investment. Even if there was such a relationship, the hearing committee and board found that the deal was fair and reasonable, and that the complainant (whose credibility was found lacking) was given the opportunity to seek independent legal advice. (Mike Frisch)