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In re Simmons

Supreme Court of Louisiana

October 16, 2017

IN RE: MARK G. SIMMONS

         ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING

          PER CURIAM.

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

         UNDERLYING FACTS

         The Client Trust Account Matter

         The ODC received notice from respondent's bank that his client trust account was overdrawn on September 6, 2012. Despite receiving notice of the overdraft from the ODC via certified mail, respondent failed to respond to the ODC's request for an explanation and request for copies of records related to the account.

         Eventually, the ODC was able to audit the account for the period from May 2012 to June 2013. The audit revealed that, on June 30, 2013, respondent had not yet disbursed at least $5, 296.29 to clients or third parties. At that time, the balance in the account was $1, 696.31, indicating that respondent had converted $3, 599.98 in funds belonging to clients or third parties.

         The ODC alleged respondent's conduct violated the following provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 1.15 (safekeeping property of clients or third persons), 8.1(c) (failure to cooperate with the ODC in its investigation), and 8.4(a) (violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct).

         The Cormier Matter

         In April 2010, Patricia Cormier hired respondent to represent her regarding an EEOC claim against the Lafayette Parish School System. She paid respondent a total of $2, 000 for the representation. Respondent participated in mediation in the matter and corresponded with a representative of the school system in an attempt to present Ms. Cormier's demands to the full school board. On November 16, 2011, respondent sent a letter to the school system representative regarding the school board's alleged breach of the mediation agreement and his intent to contact the EEOC regarding the breach. Thereafter, respondent took no meaningful action regarding the matter. Ms. Cormier tried to contact respondent several times via email, telephone, text message, and letter to obtain the status of the matter, but respondent failed to respond.

         In April 2013, Ms. Cormier filed a disciplinary complaint against respondent. Despite receiving notice of the complaint via certified mail, respondent failed to respond. The ODC issued a subpoena to obtain respondent's sworn statement. Respondent was personally served with the subpoena but requested, via fax, that the sworn statement be rescheduled. The ODC attempted to contact respondent by telephone, e-mail, and fax regarding his request, to no avail. Respondent did not appear at the sworn statement.

         The ODC alleged respondent's conduct 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), 1.16(d) (obligations upon termination of the representation), 8.1(c), and 8.4(a).

         DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS

         In November 2014, the ODC filed formal charges against respondent. Respondent answered the formal charges, and the ...


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