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In re Register

Supreme Court of Louisiana

February 14, 2018

IN RE: HAROLD D. REGISTER

         ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING

          PER CURIAM [*]

         This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against respondent, Harold D. Register, an attorney licensed to practice law in Louisiana but currently on interim suspension pursuant to a joint petition filed by the parties in April 2017. In re: Register, 17-0691 (La. 4/27/17), 218 So.3d 94.

         UNDERLYING FACTS

         Count I - The LeDay Matter

         In December 2009, while respondent was representing LeDerian LeDay in a criminal matter, Mr. LeDay was involved in an automobile accident. In August 2010, Mr. LeDay hired respondent on a contingency fee basis to represent him in his personal injury matter. The case settled in April 2011 for $10, 000, at which time respondent endorsed the settlement check and deposited it into his client trust account. However, respondent did not disburse any funds to Mr. LeDay or provide him with a settlement disbursement statement. Respondent also did not pay Mr. LeDay's medical providers or satisfy a lien for Mr. LeDay's outstanding child support. In July 2013, Mr. LeDay filed a complaint against respondent with the ODC.

         Respondent gave a sworn statement to the ODC in May 2014. He acknowledged that no disbursement had been made to any party as of the date of the statement, over three years after he deposited the settlement check into his client trust account.

         Mr. LeDay gave a sworn statement to the ODC in August 2014. He confirmed that no settlement funds had been disbursed as of the date of the statement. Mr. LeDay testified that this caused his credit standing to be negatively affected.

         During the ODC's investigation, respondent promised to produce copies of his bank statements to the ODC. He failed to do so, necessitating the issuance of a subpoena. In October 2014, respondent gave a second sworn statement and again failed to provide his bank statements. When the ODC finally obtained the requested information from respondent, the bank statements reflected that on several occasions in 2012, 2013, and 2014, respondent's trust account balance fell below the $10, 000 he was holding on Mr. LeDay's behalf.

         The ODC alleged that respondent's conduct violated Rule 1.15 (safekeeping property of clients or third persons) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

         Count II - The Glaude Matter

         This matter arises from litigation relative to the seizure of $129, 852 in currency by the United States government, and regarding which the government later initiated a civil forfeiture complaint. The currency was seized from the son of Dianne Glaude, who subsequently died. In March 2008, Ms. Glaude paid respondent $1, 200 to represent her interests in her claim (as the heir to her son) for the return of the seized currency. In April 2011, respondent filed an unsigned and incomplete Verified Statement of Claim on behalf of Ms. Glaude. In response, the government filed a motion to strike. Respondent failed to oppose the motion to strike and failed to appear at the hearing on the motion. Consequently, in June 2011, the district court granted the motion to strike. Ms. Glaude's Verified Statement of Claim was stricken from the record, and her matter ultimately dismissed via default judgment.

         In November 2011, Ms. Glaude filed a complaint against respondent with the ODC. Ms. Glaude asserted that respondent failed to communicate with her in a timely fashion throughout the representation, and when she did receive a text message from him, he indicated that he was "on top of this situation." Ms. Glaude also stated that respondent failed to notify her of the proceedings in the district court or of the ruling granting the motion to strike. In response to the complaint, respondent indicated that Ms. Glaude's case was complex and despite his best efforts he could not "change the position of the Federal Government." Respondent noted that he had filed a motion seeking reconsideration of the district court's ruling in order to protect Ms. Glaude's interests, but the motion was denied.[1]

         Respondent gave a sworn statement to the ODC in August 2012. He could not recall whether he had filed an opposition to the motion to strike and despite repeated requests, did not produce a copy of any such pleading. Asked why he did not appear in court for the hearing on the motion, respondent stated that the date was not marked on his calendar. Respondent indicated that he made efforts to effectively represent Ms. Glaude, but he also admitted that his efforts were not sufficient to obtain a positive outcome.

         In 2012, Ms. Glaude filed a legal malpractice suit against respondent. The suit was settled in Ms. ...


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