Friday, July 23, 2010
The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board has ordered the dismissal of disciplinary charges against an attorney notwithstanding its conclusion that the attorney had violated three disciplinary rules in a matter litigated in the federal courts:
We have before us an attorney who has engaged in an isolated case of negligence and faces disciplinary proceedings for the first time in her twenty years of practice. Our review of the record indicates that Respondent's negligence has resulted in violations of [Disciplinary] Rules 3.1, 8.4(a), and 8.4(d), with some harm to the federal judicial system and an opposing party. ODC has suggested that a public reprimand is the appropriate sanction in this matter, Nevertheless...we conclude that Respondent's actions do not rise to the level necessary to require the imposition of any public discipline. Additional notice is taken of the fact that Respondent's actions have already been the subject of published decisions by the federal courts; therefore, one of the major reasons for issuing a public reprimand--educating other members of the bar by dissemination of the reprimand--has already been achieved.
Without commenting on the merits, I find the reason articulated for foregoing discipline troubling. A reprimand would be publicly available and might well be found by a potential client who is considering retaining the attorney. It would be far more difficult to locate the federal court opinions, which appear to be styled in the name of the client. (Mike Frisch)