Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Aucoin

Supreme Court of Louisiana

May 26, 2017

IN RE: TOBY JAMES AUCOIN

         ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING

          PER CURIAM.

         This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against respondent, Toby James Aucoin, an attorney licensed to practice law in Louisiana, but currently ineligible to practice.[1]

         FORMAL CHARGES

         On July 22, 2014, April Lewis hired respondent to handle the expungement of her criminal record. At that time, Ms. Lewis paid respondent an $800 flat fee. Thereafter, Ms. Lewis made several attempts to contact respondent, to no avail. In September 2014, Ms. Lewis contacted the district attorney's office to inquire about the status of the expungement and learned no action had been taken.

         Ms. Lewis then obtained a copy of the court's docket to determine the next time respondent was scheduled to appear. She went to court on that date and confronted respondent about the status of her expungement. Later, respondent met with Ms. Lewis for several hours at his office, during which time he told Ms. Lewis he would complete the expungement paperwork and forward it to her within one week. Respondent failed to forward the paperwork to Ms. Lewis as promised, and she made numerous attempts to contact him, to no avail.

         In December 2014, Ms. Lewis filed a disciplinary complaint against respondent. In his response to the complaint, respondent admitted that he failed to communicate with Ms. Lewis. He also included copies of expungement documents he had prepared on Ms. Lewis' behalf. However, there is no evidence that he took any other action or completed the matter for Ms. Lewis or that he refunded her fee.

         DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS

         In December 2015, the ODC filed formal charges against respondent, alleging that his conduct, as set forth above, violated the following provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 1.3 (failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client), 1.4 (failure to communicate with a client), 1.5 (fee arrangements), 1.16(d) (obligations upon termination of the representation), and 8.4(a) (violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct). 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 considering the ODC's deemed admitted submission, the hearing committee determined that the factual allegations of the formal charges were deemed admitted and proven by clear and convincing evidence. Based on those facts, the committee determined respondent violated the Rules of Professional Conduct as alleged in the formal charges. Specifically, the committee found that respondent failed to properly communicate with his client, failed to represent her with diligence and promptness and abandoned her and her efforts to have her criminal record expunged, in violation of Rules 1.3, 1.4, and 8.4(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Respondent also collected $800 from Ms. Lewis without taking action, completing the matter, or returning the fee, in violation of Rules 1.5 and 8.4(a). Respondent then terminated that representation without taking steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect Ms. Lewis' interests; he did not give Ms. Lewis reasonable notice to allow her time for employment of other counsel; nor did he surrender papers and property to which Ms. Lewis was entitled or refund the advanced payment of fees or expenses that were not earned or incurred, all in violation of Rules 1.16(d) and 8.4(a).

         Turning to the issue of an appropriate sanction, the committee stated:

The undisputed facts and exhibits confirm that Respondent violated the most basic duty to handle [Ms. Lewis'] matter diligently and to communicate with [her]. Respondent has demeaned the profession and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the fair administration of justice. ABA Standards and prior jurisprudence support a sanction of suspension from the practice of law for no less than one year and one day.

         Accordingly, the committee recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one year and one day. The committee further recommended that respondent be ordered to make restitution in the amount of $800, plus legal interest from July 22, 2014 until paid, either to Ms. Lewis or to the Client Assistance Fund, as ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.