Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Entrusted Fund Violations Draw Proposed Suspension

A Louisiana Hearing Committee recommends a two-year suspension with all but six months stayed for an attorney's first disciplinary encounter in 51 years of practice.

Mr. McCloskey is a lawyer licensed to practice law in Louisiana since September 9, 1971; his Louisiana Bar Roll Number is 09152. Respondent has practiced primarily in the Greater New Orleans area since he was admitted to practice law. In his more than fifty (50) years of practicing law, he has never been disciplined. In 2008 Mr. McCloskey left a firm in which he was a partner, and he formed a solo-practice firm. Respondent has an “AV” rating with the Martindale Hubble organization, and several colleagues and friends have provided evidence that they believe Respondent possesses good character.

The matter was initiated by an trust account overdraft. 

Although Respondent’s misconduct was closer to “knowing” than “negligent,” the committee does not find that Respondent had a conscious desire to deprive clients or others of funds not belonging to Respondent. Rather, the committee finds that Mr. McCloskey perceived the refunds and having to deal with them as a nuisance or inconvenience. Respondent knew or should have known that he was improperly handling client property that caused, or could cause, harm to his clients.

The amounts of money involved, either individually or in whole, were not financially consequential to McCloskey, though from a public perspective the total amount of funds at issue is significant. The committee believes that laziness, not greed or a conscious, dishonest desire, was the foundation of Respondent’s decision to avoid the required process and efforts to associate the refunds with persons he previously represented, and make an effort to remit the money to the rightful owners of it. Mr. McCloskey chose an easier, softer way than the Rules of Professional Conduct require, and it was a violation of Rules 1.15(a) and 8.4(c) to do so.

The attorney was cooperative and had made a "robust effort" at restitution. (Mike Frisch)


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