disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the
Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against
respondent, Lance Hac Nguyen. Mr. Nguyen is licensed to
practice law only in Texas; however, the ODC asserts
jurisdiction over him in this matter pursuant to Supreme
Court Rule XIX, § 6(A) and Rule 8.5 of the Rules of
Professional Conduct, which together extend this court's
disciplinary authority to lawyers who provide or offer to
provide legal services in Louisiana.
August 12, 2013, respondent was admitted pro hac
vice in the United States District Court for the Western
District of Louisiana specifically to defend Tyrone Thibeaux
in the case captioned United States of America v.
Rodriguez, et al. One of Mr. Thibeaux's
co-defendants was Glenn Charles.
December 12, 2013, during Mr. Charles' sentencing
hearing, the judge learned that respondent had improperly
contacted Mr. Charles outside the presence of and without the
approval of Mr. Charles' counsel. The judge then ordered
respondent to show cause why he should not be sanctioned for
this conduct. During the show cause hearing, respondent
admitted he improperly contacted Mr. Charles. On April 11,
2014, the judge sanctioned respondent and referred the matter
to the court's chief judge, as well as the attorney
disciplinary authorities in Texas and Louisiana. On July 23,
2014, the chief judge suspended respondent from the pro
hac vice practice of law in the Western District of
Louisiana for eight months.
its ensuing investigation into respondent's conduct, the
ODC made numerous attempts to contact him via telephone, U.S.
mail, and FedEx. Respondent failed to respond to all of the
ODC's attempts to contact him.
alleged that respondent's conduct violated the following
provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 4.2(a)
(unless the lawyer has the consent of the other lawyer or is
authorized to do so by law or a court order, a lawyer in
representing a client shall not communicate about the subject
of the representation with a person the lawyer knows to be
represented by another lawyer in the matter) and 8.1(c)
(failure to cooperate with the ODC in its investigation).
March 2016, the ODC filed formal charges against respondent.
Respondent failed to answer the formal charges. Accordingly,
the factual allegations contained therein were deemed
admitted and proven by clear and convincing evidence pursuant
to Supreme Court Rule XIX, § 11(E)(3). No formal hearing
was held, but the parties were given an opportunity to file
with the hearing committee written arguments and documentary
evidence on the issue of sanctions. Respondent filed nothing
for the hearing committee's consideration.
reviewing the ODC's deemed admitted submission, the
hearing committee found that the factual allegations in the
formal charges were deemed admitted and proven by clear and
convincing evidence. Based on these facts, the committee
determined that respondent violated the Rules of Professional
Conduct as charged.
considering the ABA's Standards for Imposing Lawyer
Sanctions, the committee determined the applicable
baseline sanction ranges from suspension to disbarment. In
aggravation, the committee found bad faith obstruction of the
disciplinary proceeding by intentionally failing to comply
with the rules or orders of the disciplinary agency. In
mitigation, the committee found the absence of a prior
also considering this court's prior jurisprudence
addressing similar misconduct, the committee recommended that