Saturday, January 5, 2019

Birthday Parties And Funerals

The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board recommends that a disbarred attorney be readmitted on three years probation

Petitioner, an elected member of the Monroe City Council at the time, was convicted in federal court of racketeering by accepting bribes from a developer in exchange for taking actions favorable to the developer in matters before the Monroe City Council. The developer testified in the criminal trial that in 2007 he had regularly given Petitioner cash contributions and in-kind donations in exchange for favorable assistance with certain zoning variances. The developer subsequently became an informant for the FBI. In a recorded conversation in 2008, Petitioner brought up certain business matters involving the developer which were pending before the city. The conversation later turned to Petitioner’s recent re-election and Petitioner said he was still taking campaign contributions. After Petitioner mentioned the campaign contributions, the developer gave Petitioner $1,000 saying all he asked for was a fair shake and that Petitioner do something for him to which Petitioner replied, “No problem.” In a recorded conversation in 2009, after discussing a pending proposal before the city council affecting a city contract with the developer, Petitioner requested $207 from the developer on behalf of a constituent whose utilities were about to be disconnected. That evening, the council approved the proposal, and the developer gave $207 to Petitioner a couple of days later.

Bar proceedings

As a result of the federal conviction, Petitioner was disbarred by the Louisiana Supreme Court on October 19, 2016, retroactive to June 9, 2013, the date he had last been placed on interim suspension. Petitioner was also given credit for the time he served on interim suspension during the periods of June 19, 2011 to September 21, 2011, and May 2, 2012 to April 3, 2013.

The board majority concludes that he met the criteria for reinstatement with a number of conditions.

Two members dissented. 

Linda Bizzarro

I join Brian Landry in his dissent. This Board's previous recommendation for permanent disbarment was based on Mr. Gilmore's conviction of a "serious criminal offense", an element of Guideline 7 of the guidelines for permanent disbarment. As a City Councilman and public official he accepted bribes in exchange for improperly influencing a government entity.

The Louisiana Supreme Court imposed only disbarment. 

In my opinion Mr. Gilmore has not met his burden on this [honesty and integrity] element. Many of the witnesses testifying on his behalf said they had not been in contact with, or had limited contact with Mr. Gilmore since his disbarment and he admitted to such lack of recent contact in his sworn statement. Much of the witnesses’ testimony about his character, consisted of reports about his regular appearances at birthday parties and funerals. Several witnesses testified that their opinion of him was not at all affected by his felony conviction. One witness implied that the federal criminal conviction was not significant because it was based on only 2 occasions with a small amount of money.

In my opinion this evidence is not adequate to prove that Mr. Gilmore now has the character, honesty and integrity to practice law, as is required by Rule XIX, Section 24 E (6), and his Petition for Reinstatement should be denied.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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