Wednesday, November 22, 2023
A busy disciplinary day in Louisiana with a decision from the state Supreme Court
In September 2020, respondent’s attorney notified the ODC that respondent had been arrested for battery. An online search produced a news report of the attack that respondent committed upon Frederick Cascio, the owner and operator of a restaurant located in Monroe, Louisiana.
By way of background, Mr. Cascio and respondent (and their families) are longtime friends. Respondent, his wife, and children visited Mr. Cascio’s restaurant regularly. In the fall of 2020, respondent asked Mr. Cascio to hire his teenaged son, Noah, for a part-time job in the restaurant. Mr. Cascio agreed and hired Noah to work as a bus boy.
On the evening of September 19, 2020, Mr. Cascio believed Noah was more than an hour late for his scheduled shift. Mr. Cascio sent respondent a text message to advise that Noah had not arrived for work and to ask for his son’s phone number. Respondent replied with an abusive, insulting, and racially improper text message, which included a threat to “beat your ass.”
Mr. Cascio then ended the texting and returned to completing preparations for dinner service. After completing the preparations, Mr. Cascio was conversing with his staff and sitting at a counter near the rear of the bar area. Suddenly, respondent burst through the rear door of the restaurant in a rage. Respondent approached Mr. Cascio, who had his leg propped up on a railing, grabbed Mr. Cascio’s ankles, swiveled him around, and pulled him the length of and off the preparation counter, causing Mr. Cascio to fall onto his back and head to the concrete floor.
From there, respondent dragged Mr. Cascio into the kitchen area and knelt on his upper chest and neck. Respondent then grabbed Mr. Cascio’s head, which hrepeatedly pounded into the floor, and was heard to say, “I will kill you.” The attack ended when a female employee, in an effort to pull Mr. Cascio free from respondent, reached out and grabbed Mr. Cascio as he lay on the kitchen floor. Other employees who witnessed the attack called 911 and summoned police. Respondent disengaged and left the premises.
The texted racial slur
Respondent: You’re fucking kidding me. You don’t have his fucking number? You, your life, your family and your business is more than fucked up as a n[*]gger’s checkbook. Your staff wants to quit. You can’t communicate with people and you’re a manic depressive. Your passive aggressive daughter is equally stupid[.] I’ll return your documents Tuesday.
Respondent asked Cascio to give false information to law enforcement; he declined.
The incident led to a deferred prosecution agreement and no conviction.
we agree that the sanction recommended by the board is appropriate. Accordingly, we will suspend respondent from the practice of law for one year and one day, with six months deferred, followed by a two-year period of probation governed by the conditions set forth by the board.
Chief Justice Weimer
Where I depart from my colleagues is in the length of the suspension imposed. Based on the original text sent to the victim, which is quoted at footnote 1 of the per curiam, and on the lack of candor in respondent’s initial response to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, I would impose a lengthier period of actual suspension.
Justice Crain would also impose a longer suspension. (Mike Frisch)