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In re Lamartina

Supreme Court of Louisiana

December 6, 2017

IN RE: ELISE MARYBETH LaMARTINA

         ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING

          PER CURIAM

         This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against respondent, Elise Marybeth LaMartina, an attorney licensed to practice law in Louisiana, but currently suspended from practice.

         PRIOR DISCIPLINARY HISTORY

         Before we address the current charges, we find it helpful to review respondent's prior disciplinary history. Respondent was admitted to the practice of law in Louisiana in 2006. In 2010, we suspended respondent from the practice of law for one year and one day, fully deferred, subject to a two-year period of unsupervised probation with conditions. In re: LaMartina, 10-0093 (La. 7/2/10), 38 So.3d 266 ("LaMartina I"). During the probationary period, however, respondent engaged in additional misconduct. She was arrested for shoplifting on October 5, 2011 (stemming from the theft of $166.87 in merchandise from a Target store in Covington, Louisiana) and she was twice arrested on civil attachments issued in two civil cases in which she was the defendant. For these violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, we revoked respondent's probation and immediately made executory the previously deferred one year and one day suspension imposed in LaMartina I. In re: LaMartina, 12-0892 (La. 5/25/12), 89 So.3d 1164 ("LaMartina II"). Respondent has not yet sought reinstatement from her suspension in LaMartina II. As such, she remains suspended from the practice of law.

         Against this backdrop, we now turn to a consideration of the misconduct at issue in the instant proceeding.

         FORMAL CHARGES

         In January 2015, respondent was arrested for shoplifting hair dye, which was valued at $7.29, from a Rouses Supermarket in Mandeville, Louisiana. Respondent was ultimately charged with misdemeanor theft of goods. In October 2015, respondent pleaded guilty to this charge as well as the 2011 shoplifting charge previously discussed.

         When the ODC received notice of respondent's 2015 arrest, it sent her three separate letters requesting she provide a written explanation of her conduct. Two of the letters were sent via certified mail, and one letter was sent via regular mail. Only one of the letters was returned, unclaimed. Respondent never filed a written response to the ODC's letters.

         DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS

         In February 2016, the ODC filed formal charges against respondent, alleging that her conduct as set forth above violated the following provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 8.1(b) (knowing failure to respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority), 8.1(c) (failure to cooperate with the ODC in its investigation), 8.4(a) (violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct), and 8.4(b) (commission of a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer). 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 on sanctions, the hearing committee determined the factual allegations in the formal charges are deemed admitted and proven by clear and convincing evidence. The factual allegations are further corroborated by the documentary evidence submitted by the ODC. The committee concluded that these facts establish respondent violated the Rules of Professional Conduct as charged.

         The committee determined that respondent violated duties owed to the public and the legal profession. Her conduct caused actual harm to the store from which she shoplifted and to the legal profession. After considering the ABA's Standards for Imposing Lawyer ...


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