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In re Nguyen

Supreme Court of Louisiana

April 13, 2017

IN RE: LANCE HAC NGUYEN

         ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING

          PER CURIAM

         This 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.

         FORMAL CHARGES

         On 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.

         On 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.

         During 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.

         The ODC 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).

         DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS

         In 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.

         Hearing Committee Report

         After 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.

         After 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 disciplinary record.

         After also considering this court's prior jurisprudence addressing similar misconduct, the committee recommended that ...


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