Sunday, April 18, 2021

Brother's Weed

An attorney who engaged in a single act of unauthorized practice while suspended for a marijuana possession conviction should be suspended for 30 days followed by probation, according to a recommendation of the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board.

The hearing committee's findings

As to the Rule 8.4(b) charge, the Committee stated that her conduct in violating this rule was not knowing, intentional, or negligent. The Committee believed Respondent’s testimony that the arrest was politically motivated by an adversary of one of her clients in litigation she was handling for the client. The Committee believed Respondent’s account that the marijuana belonged to her brother and that Respondent had “constructive possession” of the marijuana and found Respondent never stated she “knowingly” possessed it. The Committee also found that Respondent entered into the guilty plea to protect her brother.

With respect to the Rule 5.5 charge, the Committee found that Respondent’s conduct was negligent and not intentional or knowing. 

The board disagreed

The ODC asserts that the Committee erred in finding that Respondent’s conduct in violation of Rule 8.4(b) in Count I and in violation of Rule 5.5 in Count II was not knowing. The Board agrees and finds that Respondent knowingly violated both rules...

The crime to which Respondent pleaded requires that the person knowingly or intentionally possess the marijuana. For the Committee to now find that Respondent’s conduct was not knowing is inconsistent with the essential elements of the crime for which she was convicted.

In Count II of the formal charges, the ODC alleged a knowing violation of Rule 5.5 which allegation was admitted by Respondent in her answer.

Proposed sanction

The Board also recognizes that there are numerous mitigating factors present. The Board finds Respondent’s lack of selfish or dishonest motive to be particularly significant. Considering all of the above, the Board recommends that Respondent be suspended for thirty days, followed by a one-year period of probation, and that any misconduct during the probationary period may be grounds for imposing additional discipline.

(Mike Frisch)

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