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In re Arata

Supreme Court of Louisiana

October 31, 2014

IN RE: WILLIAM HARRELL ARATA

IN RE: Disciplinary Counsel; - Other; Applying For Findings and Recommendations (Formal Charges) Office of the Disciplinary Board, No. 12-DB-007;

Discipline imposed.

Jeannette Theriot Knoll, John L. Weimer, Greg G. Guidry, Jefferson D. Hughes

OPINION

[2014-1696 La. 1] ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS

PER CURIAM

This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary

Page 303

Counsel (" ODC" ) against respondent, William Harrell Arata, an attorney licensed to practice law in Louisiana.

UNDERLYING FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On April 5, 2012, respondent was arrested by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for possession of opiates, a felony. On April 9, 2012, respondent entered Palmetto Addiction Recovery Center to be evaluated. On that day, he provided a hair sample for drug testing and tested positive for cocaine and hydrocodone, an opiate. During the evaluation, respondent indicated that his drug of choice was Vicodin. He also admitted to smoking marijuana twice a week approximately every two weeks for pain relief and insomnia. Additionally, he indicated that he tried cocaine in college and did not try it again until March 2012, when he used it one time. At the conclusion of the evaluation on April 12, 2012, respondent was diagnosed with opioid dependence and cocaine abuse.[1] Respondent subsequently entered a ninety-day recovery program at The Next Step at Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services and successfully completed the [2014-1696 La. 2] program in July 2012. On July 13, 2012, respondent signed a five-year recovery agreement with the Lawyers Assistance Program (" LAP" ).

In July 2012, the ODC filed a petition in this court seeking respondent's immediate interim suspension on the ground that he posed a threat to the public as a result of his April 5, 2012 arrest. In response to the petition, respondent admitted he had been arrested but denied he was a threat of harm to the public or his clients.

On July 27, 2012, we ordered respondent to show cause before a hearing committee why he should not be placed on interim suspension. The hearing committee conducted the hearing on September 13, 2012 and, on September 24, 2012, recommended to this court that the petition for interim suspension should be denied as respondent was not a threat of harm to the public. On October 12, 2012, we denied the petition for interim suspension. In re: Arata, 12-1729 (La. 10/12/12), 99 So.3d 29. However, we further ordered that

respondent shall fully and completely adhere to all terms of the recovery agreement he executed with the Lawyers Assistance Program, and such other conditions as may be imposed upon him by the Lawyers Assistance Program. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel shall monitor respondent's compliance with his recovery agreement and notify this court of any violation, which may be grounds for placing respondent on disability inactive status, or interim suspension, as appropriate.

Following his arrest, respondent was placed into a diversion program by the Washington Parish District Attorney's Office. After successfully completing the diversion program in June 2013, the criminal charges against him were dismissed.

DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS

In February 2013, the ODC filed formal charges against respondent, alleging that his conduct violated Rules 8.4(a) (violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct) and 8.4(b) (commission of a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a ...


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