Wednesday, December 15, 2010
A Louisiana hearing committee has recommended dismissal of charges that an attorney failed to safeguard entrusted property. The attorney was retained to defend criminal charges and was given property of the alleged victim. The property consisted of ten consecutively numbered $100 bills. The client insisted that the money be returned to the alleged victim "in exactly the same condition."
The money was placed in an envelope in a locked filing cabinet. The attorney made some efforts to return the money. His attorney's son had a key to the cabinet and took the money when the attorney was on a cruise, mistakenly thinking that the money was left for him. The attorney replaced the funds when he returned to the office.
The committee concluded that the attorney had acted reasonably in keeping the money in a locked filing cabinet: "Given the small office, and the lack of a safe deposit box, a solo practicioner might reasonably store such property in a locked filing cabinet." (Mike Frisch)