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In re Cassibry

Supreme Court of Louisiana

May 1, 2018

IN RE: DEBRA L. CASSIBRY

         ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING

          PER CURIAM

         This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against respondent, Debra L. Cassibry, 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 1985. In March 2011, respondent pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated ("DWI"). She subsequently failed to cooperate with the ODC in its related investigation. Accordingly, we placed her on interim suspension for threat of harm to the public. In re: Cassibry, 12-0931 (La. 5/2/12), 88 So.3d 442. In November 2013, we suspended respondent from the practice of law for one year and one day, retroactive to the date of her interim suspension, for the above misconduct. In re: Cassibry, 13-1923 (La. 11/1/13), 131 So.3d 22 ("Cassibry I"). Respondent has not yet applied for reinstatement to the practice of law from her suspension in Cassibry I and, thus, remains suspended from the practice of law.

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

         UNDERLYING FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The ODC filed two sets of formal charges against respondent under disciplinary board docket numbers 14-DB-040 and 16-DB-071. Respondent failed to answer either set of formal charges, and the factual allegations contained therein were deemed admitted. 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.

         14-DB-040

         The Mississippi Arrest Matter

         In January 2012, while driving in Mississippi, respondent struck another vehicle and attempted to leave the scene of the accident. The other driver physically prevented respondent from leaving, and when the investigating police officer arrived, he observed respondent swaying in all directions while trying to stand still and slurring her speech. The officer also described her eyes as "pin point." Respondent advised the officer that she had taken a Percocet earlier that morning, and a blood sample was obtained pursuant to a warrant.

         Respondent was then arrested for driving under the influence, driving under suspension, and driving without insurance. In May 2013, respondent pleaded no contest to the charges. She was put on probation with the condition that she pay certain fines and costs. She failed to pay the fines and costs, and a warrant for her arrest was issued on July 9, 2013. Respondent is currently a fugitive from justice in Mississippi.

         The ODC alleged respondent's conduct violated the following provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 3.3 (candor toward the tribunal), 8.4(a) (violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct), 8.4(b) (commission of a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer), 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation), and 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).

         The Louisiana Arrest Matter

         In January 2013, respondent was driving on I-10 West in Slidell when she was pulled over by the police on suspicion of impairment. The police officer suspected respondent had been using drugs and requested that she provide a urine sample for analysis, which she refused.

         Respondent was arrested on charges of DWI 2nd offense, improper lane usage, driving under suspension, and no seat belt. Her arraignment was scheduled for March 6, 2013, but she failed to appear. She also failed to appear for the bond forfeiture hearing on May 8, 2013; as a result, her bond was forfeited.

         On August 22, 2013, a bail bondsman delivered respondent to the custody of the Slidell Police Department. She was subsequently arraigned on August 27, 2013. She pleaded not guilty to all charges, and her bond was reinstated.

         Respondent's trial was set for April 2, 2014, but she again failed to appear. Consequently, she was charged with the additional offense of failure to appear 2ndoffense, and a warrant was issued for her arrest. The warrant remains outstanding, and respondent is evading prosecution in this matter.

         The ODC alleged respondent's conduct violated the following provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules ...


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