Thursday, September 21, 2023
The Louisiana Supreme Court imposed a year and a day suspension for a DWI conviction
On November 22, 2017, at approximately 6:49 p.m., officers from the Baton Rouge Police Department responded to a hit-and-run vehicle crash on LA Highway 73. The victim had followed respondent’s vehicle to his home address and waited for police to arrive. As detailed in the police report and confirmed through videos taken by officers, respondent initially lied to the investigating officer about the accident and the extent of his alcohol consumption.
Approximately two hours after officers had arrived, respondent volunteered to give a breath sample. The test result showed that his blood alcohol concentration was .238%. Respondent was arrested for first offense DWI, hit and run, and failure to maintain control.
On April 6, 2021, respondent appeared in court with counsel. The charge of hit-and-run driving was dismissed. On the DWI charge, respondent withdrew his plea of not guilty and entered a plea of nolo contendre.
Respondent committed a single DWI offense. However, due to his lack of cooperation with the disciplinary investigation, we do not know whether he suffers from a substance abuse problem. An actual suspension is therefore warranted. The sanction of a one year and one day suspension means respondent will have to file a formal application for reinstatement in the event he wishes to return to the practice of law. Prior to being reinstated, respondent will have to address the question of whether he has a substance abuse disorder, and, if so, show an effort at recovery.
Accordingly, we will adopt the committee’s recommendation and suspend respondent from the practice of law for one year and one day.
Two justices would impose a lesser sanction.
In an unrelated matter, the court stayed the same sanction with the requirement of participation in the bar's treatment program
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel (“ODC”) commenced an investigation into allegations that respondent improperly notarized a donation inter vivos and was arrested for DWI and possession of marijuana. Prior to the filing of formal charges, respondent and the ODC submitted a joint petition for consent discipline.
The sanction provides that the attorney
be and he hereby is suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year and one day. It is further ordered that this suspension shall be deferred in its entirety and that respondent shall be placed on probation for a period to coincide with the term of his recovery agreement with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program. Any failure of respondent to comply with the terms of the agreement may be grounds for making the deferred suspension executory, or imposing additional discipline, as appropriate.