Wednesday, April 19, 2017
The Louisiana Supreme Court has enjoined the practice of an out-of-state attorney for misconduct in a federal case as a result of a Rule 4.2 violation and failure to participate in the bar proceedings
On August 12, 2013, respondent was admitted pro hac vice in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana specifically to defend Tyrone Thibeaux in the case captioned United States of America v. Rodriguez, et al. One of Mr. Thibeaux’s co-defendants was Glenn Charles.
On December 12, 2013, during Mr. Charles’ sentencing hearing, the judge learned that respondent had improperly contacted Mr. Charles outside the presence of and without the approval of Mr. Charles’ counsel. The judge then ordered respondent to show cause why he should not be sanctioned for this conduct. During the show cause hearing, respondent admitted he improperly contacted Mr. Charles. On April 11, 2014, the judge sanctioned respondent and referred the matter to the court’s chief judge, as well as the attorney disciplinary authorities in Texas and Louisiana. On July 23, 2014, the chief judge suspended respondent from the pro hac vice practice of law in the Western District of Louisiana for eight months.
The attorney did not respond to the Louisiana inquiry.
Turning to the issue of an appropriate sanction, we agree with the board that respondent’s misconduct would warrant a one-year suspension from the practice of law if he were a member of the Louisiana bar. In In re: Williams-Bensaadat, 15-1535 (La. 11/6/15), 181 So. 3d 684, an attorney communicated with a party known to be represented by counsel and mishandled a fee dispute. For this misconduct, we suspended the attorney from the practice of law for one year, with six months deferred, followed by a two-year period of supervised probation. In In re: Fahrenholtz, 09-0748 (La. 10/2/09), 18 So. 3d 751, an attorney knowingly, if not intentionally, failed to cooperate with the ODC in two investigations and failed to fulfill his professional obligations. For this misconduct, we suspended the attorney from the practice of law for one year and one day. Taken together, this case law indicates a one-year suspension is appropriate for respondent’s misconduct. However, as the board noted, respondent does not have a Louisiana law license to suspend. Nevertheless, based on our holding in In re: Cortigene, 13-2022 (La. 2/14/14), 144 So. 3d 915, we may sanction respondent by enjoining him from "seeking the benefits of a full or limited admission to practice in this state."