IN RE: Disciplinary Counsel; - Other; Applying For Findings and Recommendations: (Formal Charges) Office of Disciplinary Board, No. 13-DB-062.
Marcus R. Clark, Jeannette Theriot Knoll, John L. Weimer, Greg G. Guidry, Jefferson D. Hughes, III. CRICHTON, J., concurs in part and dissents in part and assigns written reasons.
ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING
This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (" ODC" ) against respondent, Keri Glenn Armstrong, an attorney licensed to practice law in Louisiana, but currently ineligible to practice.
In July 2011, Danielle Magee hired respondent to represent her in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding. Ms. Magee advised respondent that she had student loans and owed back taxes to the State of New York. Respondent instructed Ms. Magee that all back taxes needed to be filed prior to filing the bankruptcy, while the student loan issue would need to be settled in an adversarial proceeding.
Ms. Magee paid $2,000 for the adversarial proceeding and paid $274 toward the bankruptcy proceeding, agreeing to pay an additional $2,800 through the proceeding. After making six monthly installment payments totaling $1,464, Ms. Magee requested an appointment with respondent. During the appointment, respondent advised Ms. Magee to convert her bankruptcy to a Chapter 7 because the back taxes were old enough to be discharged in bankruptcy. Respondent charged Ms. Magee $600 for the legal work and agreed to deduct this amount from the $2,000 already paid for the adversarial proceeding. Ms. Magee followed respondent's advice and converted the bankruptcy.
In August 2012, Ms. Magee received a discharge from her Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Thereafter, Ms. Magee began receiving notices from New York indicating she owed back taxes. When Ms. Magee inquired about this, respondent told her that New York had not yet received the discharge. Eventually, respondent reported to Ms. Magee that because she had not filed the back taxes two years before the discharge, the taxes were not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Ms. Magee was never informed about this requirement and converted the bankruptcy and filed the back taxes based on respondent's advice.
During the bankruptcy proceeding, Ms. Magee informed respondent that she no longer wished to pursue the adversary proceeding. Ms. Magee contacted respondent's office numerous times by phone and by e-mail requesting the remaining $1,400 from her deposit for the adversary proceeding be returned to her, but respondent refused to return the funds.
In February 2013, Ms. Magee filed a complaint against respondent with the ODC. In June 2013, the ODC forwarded a copy of the complaint to respondent at her primary and secondary registration addresses. No response was ever received from respondent, necessitating the issuance of a subpoena for her sworn statement. The sheriff's office provided a return indicating that respondent's secondary registration address is the location
of a vacant house. The ODC also received correspondence from respondent's former employer advising that respondent no longer worked for the firm and that no one at ...