Wednesday, December 5, 2018
The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board has adopted a hearing committee recommendation for a suspension of a year and a day
This disciplinary matter arises solely in regard to Respondent's criminal convictions for simple battery and criminal mischief. These convictions stem from an incident involving Respondent and a New Orleans cab driver, Hervey Farrell.
On April 6, 2012, Respondent was a passenger in Mr. Farrell's taxicab. The two had a sexual encounter in the taxicab. Mr. Farrell used his cellphone to take a bawdy video of Respondent. Following the encounter, Mr. Farrell reported to police that he was sexually assaulted in his cab by Respondent. Respondent was subsequently charged in the Orleans Municipal Court with simple battery.
On April 5, 2013, Mr. Farrell filed a civil lawsuit against Respondent in Orleans Parish Civil District Court, alleging that he suffered tort damages arising from the taxicab incident.
While the civil litigation and the simple battery charge were pending, Respondent went to the Third District Station of the New Orleans Police Department to report that she was a victim of the crimes of extortion and video voyeurism by the alleged perpetrator, Mr. Farrell. Respondent's report to police essentially asserted that Mr. Farrell emailed Respondent a copy of the video of the April incident, indicating that if he received $1 ,000.00, the video and charges he filed against the video [sic] would "go away."
While investigating Respondent's complaint against Mr. Farrell, the State charged Respondent, on October 1, 2013, with one count of false swearing for the purposes of denying a constitutional right, a violation of La.R.S. 14:126.2. The State later amended the bill of information to charge Respondent with one count of false swearing for the purposes of violating public health or safety, a violation of La.R.S. 14:126.1.
On April 2, 2014, Respondent was found guilty in the Orleans Municipal Court for simple battery, a violation of Code of the City of New Orleans, Sec. 54- 96, and fined costs. Following Respondent's denial of a Motion for New Trial, Respondent's conviction for simple battery became final.
Despite being charged with a felony, on January 16, 2015, following a bench trial, Respondent was convicted of the lesser, misdemeanor offense of criminal mischief, a violation of La. R.S. 14:59.
Considering all of the circumstances presented here, including Respondent's convictions, her discontinuance of the practice of law six years ago, her failure to respond to the Formal Charges or participate in the proceedings before the committee, and her demeanor and presentation before the Board panel, and considering the ABA Standards and jurisprudence discussed above, the Board recommends a suspension from the practice of law for a period of one year and one day. This sanction is in accord with the jurisprudence. Further, the recommended sanction will necessitate an application for reinstatement pursuant to Rule XIX, Section 24, should Respondent desire to resume her law practice which requirement the Board finds to be appropriate given the unique circumstances of this matter.
Details may be found in the decision affirming the conviction. (Mike Frisch)