PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER
JULY 19, 2001
In its continuing efforts
to improve the lawyer disciplinary system, Chief Justice Pascal
F. Calogero, Jr. announced today that the Louisiana Supreme
Court has adopted rule changes to codify the Court's authority
to disbar lawyers permanently from the practice of law. The
Court's present rules allow all disbarred lawyers to apply
for readmission to the practice of law five years after their
disbarment. Such readmission is at the Court's discretion
and is based upon strict criteria enumerated in the Court's
rules. Under the amendments adopted today, an attorney guilty
of egregious misconduct may be permanently disbarred at the
outset and will thereafter be prohibited from applying for
readmission to the bar. The rule changes become effective
August 1, 2001.
The Court's action
was prompted in part by recommendations of a Court-appointed
study Committee which recommended that the Court adopt rule
changes to provide for permanent disbarment. The Committee
also recommended guidelines to illustrate the "types of conduct
which might warrant permanent disbarment." The guidelines,
which will be attached as an appendix to the lawyer discipline
rules, are not binding upon the Supreme Court and were suggested
by the Committee to "provide useful information to the public
and to lawyers concerning the types of conduct the Court might
consider to be worthy of permanent disbarment." The nine guidelines
are as follows:
- GUIDELINE 1: Repeated or multiple instances of intentional
conversion of client funds with substantial harm.
- GUIDELINE 2: Intentional corruption of the judicial process,
including but not limited to bribery, perjury, and subornation
- GUIDELINE 3: An intentional homicide conviction.
- GUIDELINE 4: Sexual misconduct which results in a felony
conviction, such as rape or child molestation.
- GUIDELINE 5: Conviction of a felony involving physical
coercion or substantial damage to person or property, including
but not limited to armed robbery, arson, or kidnapping.
- GUIDELINE 6: Insurance fraud, including but not limited
to staged accidents or widespread runner-based solicitation.
- GUIDELINE 7: Malfeasance in office which results in a
felony conviction, and which involves fraud.
- GUIDELINE 8: Following notice, engaging in the unauthorized
practice of law subsequent to resigning from the Bar Association,
or during the period of time in which the lawyer is suspended
from the practice of law or disbarred.
- GUIDELINE 9: Instances of serious attorney misconduct
or conviction of a serious crime, when the misconduct or
conviction is preceded by suspension or disbarment for prior
instances of serious attorney misconduct or conviction of
a serious crime. Serious crime is defined in Rule XIX, Section
19. Serious attorney misconduct is defined for the purposes
of these guidelines as any misconduct which results in a
suspension of more than one year.
Serving on the Committee
were: Justice Catherine D. "Kitty" Kimball (Co-Chair); Justice
Jeannette T. Knoll (Co-Chair); Father M. Jeffery Bayhi; John
G. Beckwith, Sr.; Ashley L. Belleau; Kim M. Boyle; Catherine
G. Brame; Melissia A. Buckhalter; A. Edward Hardin; T. Haller
Jackson, III; Ann E. Lowrey; Michael W. McKay; Alex W. Rankin;
Thomas W. Sanders; and John G. Swift.
The Louisiana State
Bar Association House of Delegates has previously expressed
support for the concept of permanent disbarment.