February 24, 2011
A Flawless But Unethical Plan
A Louisiana Hearing Committee has recommended a fully-stayed suspension of an attorney who had provided legal assistance to impeached federal judge Thomas Porteous and his spouse.
After failed attempts to achieve a non-bankruptcy workout for debt problems, the attorney advised his clients to file a chapter 13 petition by using the name "Ortous" and a post office box address. The committee found that the attorney concocted and "sold" the idea to the judge and his spouse in which they would "purposefully misspell their names" on the initial petition in order to
protect then Judge Porteous and his wife's identities from the press and the public. Apparently, during this time the local newspaper, the Times Picayune, would publish the names of all those persons who filed for bankruptcy. The data used to compile the information for these publications were solely the initial petitions.
According to the committee, "the plan worked flawlessly." The attorney sought to amend the next day with the correct names and address, claiming it was a typo. The trustee testified that he would have recommended a bad faith dismissal if he had known the truth.
The committee recommendation is for a downward departure from the baseline sanction of suspension for such misconduct. The attorney has no record of prior discipline.
WWLTV.com had this report (with video) of the attorney's testimony at the impeachment trial. (Mike Frisch)
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