Friday, September 18, 2015
The Louisiana Supreme Court has disbarred an attorney for misconduct in several matters.
One notable episode of client counseling
Attorney Jonathan Johnson represented the father in a child custody matter in which respondent represented the mother of the minor child. On April 12, 2012, Mr. Johnson notified respondent that he would be filing an emergency custody petition on behalf of his client based on allegations that respondent’s client was abusing illegal drugs. That afternoon, respondent went to a health store and purchased a product called Ultra Clean, a shampoo advertised as purifying buildup of medication from the hair and commonly used in attempts to avoid a positive hair follicle drug test. After purchasing the shampoo, respondent visited his client at her home.
The following day, Mr. Johnson presented the emergency custody petition, and the presiding judge conducted a pre-trial conference in chambers. During the pre-trial conference, respondent adamantly denied that his client was taking illegal drugs. The judge ordered respondent’s client to submit to drug screening, including cuticle and hair follicle testing. The hair follicle test was negative, but the cuticle test was presumed positive for marijuana, amphetamines, and methamphetamines.
On March 11, 2013, respondent pleaded guilty to one count of theft of utility service and one count of theft. He was fined $500 and sentenced to serve one hundred eighty days in jail on each count. The court suspended the sentences and placed respondent on supervised probation for one year.
By his knowing and intentional misconduct, respondent has demonstrated a lack of concern for the welfare of his clients, third persons, the administration of justice, and the viability of his law license. After further considering the aggravating factors present in this case – in particular respondent’s selfish motive and his indifference to making restitution to his clients – the sanction of disbarment is fully supported.