April 6, 2010
An attorney who had withheld from his client a substantial portion of a lump sum workers' compensation settlement and converted the money for his own personal and business obligations was suspended for three years by the Louisiana Supreme Court. A hearing committee and the disciplinary board found that the attorney did not intend to permanently deprive the client of the proceeds. Although he had initially lied to the client, he refinanced his home and paid the client, who found out that the attorney had falsely advised him after he complained to the workers' compensation hearing officer.
The attorney admitted that he "made a bad choice" but "expressed remorse and contrition for his conduct and that he would not convert client funds to his own use in the future." His wife had just been diagnosed with uterine cancer and both he and his son were having shoulder problems, which could have affected the son's chances of getting a swimming scholarship.
Justice Knoll would disbar the attorney. So would I. (Mike Frisch)
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