IN RE: ALVIN A. JOHNSON, JR.
ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING
disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the
Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against
respondent, Alvin A. Johnson, Jr., an attorney licensed to
practice law in Louisiana.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
filed two sets of formal charges against respondent under
disciplinary board docket numbers 15-DB-032 and 16-DB-061.
Respondent did not answer the first set of formal charges,
and the factual allegations contained therein were deemed
admitted. Thereafter, respondent admitted to the allegations
of misconduct in a written submission to the disciplinary
board. Respondent answered the second set of formal charges,
admitting to the allegation of misconduct. The matters were
considered by separate hearing committees before being
consolidated by order of the disciplinary board. The board
then filed in this court a single recommendation of
discipline encompassing both sets of formal charges.
of background, Deveallion Dean was incarcerated on November
5, 2011 when his father passed away. Mr. Dean was a
beneficiary of at least one of his father's insurance
policies. Mr. Dean's sister, Denise Jackson, received a
$2, 004 disbursement from the policy made payable to Mr.
2012, Ms. Jackson hired respondent at the rate of $200 per
hour to ensure that Mr. Dean received the funds designated
for him. At that time, she paid respondent $200. Respondent
visited Mr. Dean in prison, and they agreed on the $200 per
hour fee. They also agreed that respondent would investigate
any other insurance policies and/or retirement funds held by
his father where he might have been named as a beneficiary.
Mr. Dean endorsed the $2, 004 check, and respondent deposited
$300 into Mr. Dean's commissary account. Respondent agreed
to make regular $300 deposits into the commissary account
until he had disbursed the total amount due to Mr. Dean.
identified other insurance policies and investigated Mr.
Dean's interest in them. By respondent's calculation,
he worked six hours on Mr. Dean's matter and collected a
total of $1, 104. Respondent also claimed to have deposited a
total of $900 into Mr. Dean's commissary account.
However, a review of the commissary account indicated that
respondent made three deposits totaling only $594. Respondent
failed to respond to the ODC's request that he account
for the balance of the funds due to Mr. Dean. He also failed
to produce bank records indicating the funds were deposited
into his client trust account.
made restitution to Mr. Dean in the amount of $1, 410 via a
cashier's check dated February 19, 2016.
alleged respondent's conduct violated the following
provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules
1.15(a) (safekeeping property of clients or third persons),
1.15(d) (failure to timely remit funds to a client or third
person), 1.16(d) (obligations upon termination of the
representation), and 8.4(a) (violation of the Rules of
previously noted, respondent failed to answer the formal
charges in 15-DB-032. 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. In response, respondent admitted to the misconduct
and filed three exhibits for the committee's
that the factual allegations of the formal charges were
deemed admitted and that respondent admitted engaging in
misconduct as alleged, the hearing committee made these
additional factual findings: Respondent received client trust
funds of at least $3, 308. Only $594 was deposited into Mr.
Dean's commissary account. Respondent misrepresented the
amount he sent to Mr. Dean, claiming to have sent $900 when
the record reflects he only sent $594. Respondent
acknowledged that he only worked six hours at $200 an hour.
Based on these facts, the committee determined respondent
violated the Rules of Professional Conduct as alleged in the
committee then determined that respondent intentionally
violated duties owed to his client, the legal system, and the
legal profession. Respondent caused actual harm, which is
still ongoing. The committee determined that the baseline
sanction is a suspension for one year or less based on the
ABA's Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions
and relevant case law.
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,
vulnerability of the victim, and indifference to making