Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board has dismissed as unproven charges against a criminal defense attorney. The attorney represented the incarcerated former leader of the Louisiana Hell's Angels. The client owed fees to the lawyer. A person delivered to the lawyer $5,000 and a Rolex watch, which the lawyer credited to the owed fees. The person who delivered the cashier's check and watch later claimed that they were intended to secure the representation of another incarcerated person. The lawyer denied any attorney-client relationship with the putative client.
The board affirmed findings that the evidence did not establish an attorney-client relationship with anyone other than the existing client, who apparently was pulling off a "jailhouse scam." The person who delivered the payment and watch was known as "one of his people" and there was no documentary evidence of the representation of anyone else. The board concludes:
The record in this matter raises certain suspicions. Howver, these suspicions do not rise to the level of clear and convincing evidence. ODC has failed to meet its burden of proof. The record clearly indicates that no attorney client relationship existed between [the attorney] and the [putative clients]. The record also contains sufficient evidence that [the attorney] had a reasonable belief that the funds he received were for [the actual client's] legal fees. Furthermore, [he] has refunded the money to [the putative clients] and has returned the watch.