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In re Dirks

Supreme Court of Louisiana

June 29, 2017

IN RE: CHARLES L. DIRKS, III

          PER CURIAM

         This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against respondent, Charles L. Dirks, III, an attorney licensed to practice law in Louisiana.

         UNDERLYING FACTS

         In 2009, Sharon Landrum retained respondent to represent her in a claim for wrongful termination. Respondent initiated a complaint on Ms. Landrum's behalf with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and obtained a right to sue letter from the EEOC.

         During the discovery phase of the proceedings, in particular the depositions of Ms. Landrum and her former manager, respondent learned that Ms. Landrum had not provided him with all the facts surrounding the case. Respondent advised Ms. Landrum that in his professional opinion, the case would likely be dismissed.

         Ms. Landrum's employer then filed a motion for summary judgment in the case. Respondent did not file an opposition to the motion as he did not believe he had any evidence to contradict the admissions Ms. Landrum had made during her deposition. The motion was granted and the case was dismissed in August 2013.

         For approximately one year after the court dismissed her case, Ms. Landrum contacted respondent on numerous occasions to check on the status of her case. In text messages to Ms. Landrum, respondent routinely advised that he had not heard anything from the court about the case and indicated that he would check on it. In August 2014, Ms. Landrum looked into the matter herself and learned that her case had been dismissed a year earlier.

         Ms. Landrum filed a complaint against respondent with the ODC. In his October 2014 response to the complaint, respondent specifically stated:

I did not see the ruling issued on this matter. Ms. Landrum asked me about the Motion for Summary Judgment many times. I checked my electronic notices each time and other times to see if I received a ruling. I have checked my notices several more times and do not see where I received an electronic notice, however, it is my responsibility regardless.

         In the course of the ODC's investigation, respondent gave a sworn statement in which he acknowledged that he had received the judgment dismissing Ms. Landrum's case "within a week, give or take" of when it was rendered by the court. By way of explanation for not telling Ms. Landrum that her case had been dismissed, respondent stated that he was upset with his client because she misled him about the true facts of the case, and he just "didn't want to deal with it."

         DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS

         In October 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 1.4 (failure to communicate with a client) and 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation). Respondent answered the formal charges and admitted his misconduct. The matter then proceeded to a hearing in mitigation, which was conducted by the hearing committee in April 2016. Respondent was the only witness to testify before the committee.

         Hearing Committee Report

         After considering the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing, the hearing committee made factual findings consistent with the underlying facts set forth above. Based on these findings, the committee determined respondent ...


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