Thursday, June 4, 2020

"The Guy With The Hat"

The Louisiana Supreme Court has permanently disbarred a suspended attorney based on multiple findings of ethics violations. 

In its report, the committee concluded that respondent’s offenses are so egregious that he should be permanently prohibited from applying for readmission to the bar. We agree. Respondent has failed to pay numerous clients’ medical bills from settlement funds despite providing the medical providers with letters of guarantee. The ODC’s audit of respondent’s trust account indicates that he converted as much as $230,000 from clients and third parties. Such conduct falls under Guideline 1 of the permanent disbarment guidelines set forth in Supreme Court Rule XIX, Appendix D.

Under these circumstances, we will adopt the committee’s recommendation and permanently disbar respondent. Although the committee did not make a recommendation regarding restitution, we will also order respondent to make restitution, with legal interest, to the victims of his misconduct.

Justice Crichton concurred and assigned reasons

Self-described as “the guy with the hat” in a near half century of massive lawyer advertising in the northwest Louisiana media market, respondent was placed on interim suspension in 2019 for threat to the public. In Re: Kelly, 18-2113 (La. 1/14/19), 260 So.3d 1207. Thereafter, despite multiple opportunities to respond to the very serious charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel and an invitation accorded for due process by the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, respondent failed to formally answer the charges, failed to cooperate with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel’s investigation, failed to show up at any point, and failed to file anything with this Court. Respondent also failed to provide restitution to those who trusted him, his clients, or the relevant third party providers – Healthcare Express, Willis-Knighton Hospital, and the Shreveport Doctors Rehabilitation Center – evidencing an indifference to the actual harm he has caused to the victims of his acts of conversion. Unquestionably, respondent’s numerous incidents of egregious misconduct leading up to the formal charges and his utter disregard for the attorney disciplinary process thereafter demonstrate that permanent disbarment is warranted.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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