Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Communications "Too Offensive To Repeat In This Opinion" Draw Permanent Disbarment In Louisiana

The Louisiana Supreme Court has permanently disbarred an attorney for misconduct in a host of matters including litigation related to Hurricane Katrina.

His conduct drew complaints from federal judges and criminal charges based on an email he sent to a bankruptcy court.

The criminal charges were dismissed.

When the bar investigated the complaints and federal court sanctions

On March 27, 2009, respondent sent an e-mail to DCAH [Disciplinary Counsel Ad Hoc] in which he had attached a copy of a civil rights lawsuit filed against Chief Disciplinary Counsel Charles Plattsmier, thereby threatening similar frivolous lawsuits against DCAH. This e-mail also contained racial slurs and other obscenities.

On March 30, 2009, respondent confirmed his receipt by mail of the court’s order of interim suspension by replying to the court’s Chief Deputy Clerk, and copying DCAH, that the Court was a “bunch of pigs” and “gutless dogs,” and referred to then-Chief Justice Kimball with a sexual and offensive nickname.

On April 8, 2009, respondent sent an e-mail to DCAH denying the use of racially disparaging terms, yet including such terms along with other offensive terms, in this e-mail. Later the same day, he notified DCAH that he was a “pimp,” a “puppet,” an “Uncle Tom,” and an “OREO.”

On April 14, 2009, respondent sent an e-mail to DCAH with only a subject line using the same objectionable terms. Later the same day, respondent notified DCAH by e-mail that “I Just Can’t Help Myself” and then launched into a string of racially offensive and obscene terms.

On April 15, 2009, respondent advised by e-mail sent to DCAH that he had developed yet another nickname for him. This nickname was intended to be equally offensive. Later that same day, respondent offered by e-mail to substitute a new offensive nickname for the prior offensive nickname. On April 26, 2009, respondent e-mailed DCAH and used a string of racially offensive and obscene terms to communicate his message.

On April 27, 2009, respondent threatened by e-mail a frivolous civil rights complaint against DCAH and suggested that counsel examine similar pleadings respondent had already filed. He also referred to opposing counsel in these other proceedings as “scum” and “vermin.”

On April 28, 2009, respondent threatened and advised DCAH via e-mail of the frivolous claims respondent would seek, including criminal sanctions for “misprision of a felony and accessory-after-the-fact.” This e-mail also contained racial and other derogatory terms for DCAH, Justice Kimball, and Mr. Plattsmier.

On July 9, 2009, respondent sent an e-mail to DCAH to advise that he had been thinking about him and about a “new one” for him. He then continued with a racially offensive and crude message.

The pattern continued from there.

The court

Instead of addressing what forms the basis of these formal charges – respondent’s conduct during the Katrina litigation and his conduct during the disciplinary proceeding at hand – respondent instead has focused primarily on what he believes to be a conspiracy theory surrounding his arrest on September 20, 2005 and the “secret representation of the State” by Calvin Fayard and others in the Katrina litigation for an undetermined period of time prior to August 27, 2007.

 Despite being disbarred from practicing in federal court and subsequently interimly suspended from the practice of law by the Louisiana Supreme Court, respondent failed to change his unprofessional behavior before the hearing committee...

As previously noted, leading up to, during, and since his disbarment from practice in federal court, respondent repeatedly ignored court orders and admonitions by filing unsupported and duplicative pleadings, using offensive and abusive language. He challenged the authority, competency, and integrity of the federal court, stating that the court’s actions were “disingenuous” and done for an “illicit” purpose. Respondent filed the previously mentioned “declaration” stating that an issue was “none of the court’s business.” He made unsupported and inflammatory allegations regarding the conduct of other attorneys, using terms such as “corrupt,” “anointed,” and “sleeping with the devil.” Indeed, he openly stated his contempt for the federal court and declared that he had no intention of ever complying with its order of suspension, and set about on a course of ever increasing defiance and lack of respect for the orderly administration of justice. Respondent continued to willfully violate the en banc order and the Rules of Professional Conduct by sending documents to the federal court without satisfying the conditions of the order. Then, on July 27, 2009, respondent hand delivered to the federal court the previously mentioned letter addressed to Judge Lemelle containing profanity and an outrageous racial slur, which led to the issuance of the order barring his access to the federal courthouse...

Respondent clearly engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation by his unrelenting misuse and abuse of the legal system, filing frivolous pleadings containing unsupported and inflammatory allegations, misrepresenting the conduct of opposing counsel, using offensive, racist, and vulgar language, and impugning the integrity of the judiciary and disciplinary authorities. Respondent acted with deceit when he sought to mislead the federal court by using his cousin’s name as a ploy so that he could continue to file pleadings after he had been disbarred from practice in the Eastern District and after he had been placed on interim suspension by this court. He hurled threats of civil, criminal, and disciplinary proceedings at judges, opposing counsel, and disciplinary authorities. 

The final word

Respondent’s shocking disregard for his obligations as a member of the bar of this state demonstrate why he must forfeit any right to ever return to practice. The record is replete with respondent’s vile and racially-derogatory communications (many of which are too offensive to repeat in this opinion) made to members of the judiciary and the bar. He has filed unsupported and duplicative pleadings, using offensive and abusive language, and has made baseless challenges to the authority, competency, and integrity of the federal court. Respondent has consistently refused to make any significant attempt to acknowledge the wrongful nature of his acts, and he continues to portray himself as the “victim” in these proceedings.

We have often pointed out we do not impose permanent disbarment lightly. See In re: Morphis, 01-2803 (La.12/4/02), 831 So. 2d 934. Rather, permanent disbarment is reserved for those cases where the attorney’s conduct convincingly demonstrates that he or she does not possess the requisite moral fitness to practice law in this state. In re: Petal, 10-0080 (La.3/26/10), 30 So. 3d 728; In re: Muhammad, 08-2769 (La.3/4/09), 3 So. 3d 458. Even a cursory glance at the record of these proceedings indicates respondent, through his own words and actions, has demonstrated with perfect clarity that he does not have the moral fitness to exercise the privilege of practicing law in this state. In order to protect the public and maintain the high standards of the legal profession in this state, respondent must be permanently disbarred.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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