Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board has rejected a hearing committee's proposed suspension of an attorney and imposed a public reprimand. The attorney had filed two motions to recuse a judge and had asserted a variety of claims of personal bias and prejudice against him on the part of the judge: rude and unprofessional tendencies, behavior towards him that "potentially undermine[d his] ability to practice law and earn a living," rude behavior from the judge's staff, false accusations against him to cause his termination as an assistant district attorney and related claims.
The board sustained a finding that the contentions in the motions violated Rule 8.2(a) when judged by an objective standard: "the [attorney] both knew, or should have known, of the falsity of the allegations which concerned [the judge's] qualifications and integrity." The committee had found as a fact that the judge "does not harbor racial animus, prejudices or bias, and that he conducts himself in a fair and impartial way."
In assessing sanction, the board gave "great weight" to a conversation between the judge and the attorney's superior in the district attorney's office about the attorney: "The Board finds the subject and nature of this conversation to be highly unusual, given the fact that [the judge] did not have authority to manage [the district attorney's] office. Moreover, this incident has proven to be very helpful to the Board in understanding the Respondent's subjective belief that [the judge] harbored a racial bias towards him as a professional." The board was "also troubled by the fact that the complainant in this matter has remained anonymous, and as late as the oral argument, the Respondent did not know with certainty who had filed the disciplinary complaint against him." (Mike Frisch)