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In re Ashley

Supreme Court of Louisiana

May 25, 2018

IN RE: BRUCE C. ASHLEY

         ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING

          PER CURIAM

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

         UNDERLYING FACTS

         The following facts are not in dispute, having been stipulated to by the parties:

         On February 19, 2015, respondent was involved in an automobile accident, totaling his vehicle. On February 24, 2015, he was admitted to East Jefferson General Hospital ("EJGH") for severe abdominal pain on his left side, dehydration, and alcohol abuse. Following a two-day stay, he was discharged from EJGH.

         On April 27, 2015, respondent was admitted to Beacon Behavioral Hospital ("Beacon") for threat of suicide, pursuant to a coroner's commitment. He was discharged from Beacon on April 29, 2015.

         On May 7, 2015, as a result of being highly intoxicated, respondent suffered a serious fall. He was involved in a single car accident the same day, which totaled his wife's car. The following day, he was admitted to the ICU at EJGH, where he was intubated for eleven days and diagnosed with three broken ribs, a punctured and collapsed lung, and pneumonia. He was discharged from EJGH on May 22, 2015.

          On May 29, 2015, respondent was admitted to a ninety-day inpatient treatment program for alcohol abuse at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services. He was discharged from Pine Grove on August 26, 2015. On September 17, 2015, respondent entered into a recovery agreement with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program ("JLAP"). The following month, respondent voluntarily appeared before the ODC for a sworn statement, at which time he disclosed that he suffered from chemical dependency and severe depression.

         Count I

         The following facts are not in dispute, having been stipulated to by the parties: Clothilda Joseph retained respondent to represent her brother in a criminal matter. Respondent was paid at least $11, 935 for his services. Respondent then failed to appear in court for seven out of thirteen court dates. He also failed to advise his client that he had relocated his practice. After receiving notice of Ms. Joseph's disciplinary complaint on July 7, 2015, respondent requested an extension of time to submit his response. On October 21, 2016, respondent submitted his written substantive response to the complaint.

         The ODC alleged that 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), 8.1(c) (failure to cooperate with the ODC in its investigation), and 8.4(a) (violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct).

         Count II

         The following facts are not in dispute, having been stipulated to by the parties: In June 2014, respondent was retained to represent Jeremiah Washington in a criminal matter. Respondent charged $5, 000 and was paid at least $3, 400 for the representation. Thereafter, he failed to respond to or return telephone calls and correspondence from Mr. Washington or Mr. Washington's family members. On September 20, 2015, Judge Robin Pittman contacted the ODC to advise that respondent had missed several court dates in Mr. Washington's case. She contacted respondent by telephone in open court on at least two occasions about his absences. Mr. Washington, his father (Clifford Washington), and Judge Pittman filed disciplinary complaints against respondent. Although he was served with notices of each complaint, respondent failed to provide any written substantive response.

         The ODC alleged that respondent's conduct violated the following provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 1.3, 1.4, 1.5 (fee arrangements), 8.1(c), and 8.4(a).

         Count III

         The following facts are not in dispute, having been stipulated to by the parties: In December 2014, respondent was retained to represent John Spellman in a criminal matter. Respondent was paid $2, 500 for the representation. After enrolling as counsel of record and making one court appearance, respondent was involved in an accident and never returned back to court. He failed to return any money and failed to provide a written substantive response to the disciplinary complaint filed by Mr. Spellman.

         The ODC alleged that respondent's conduct violated the following provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 8.1(c), and 8.4(a).

         Coun ...


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