IN RE: GEORGE ALLEN R. WALSH
ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING
matter, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC")
seeks to appeal a ruling of the Louisiana Attorney
Disciplinary Board ordering that respondent, George Allen R.
Walsh, be publicly reprimanded.
records of the Louisiana State Bar Association
("LSBA") reflect that between May 31, 2014 and
August 5, 2016, respondent was ineligible to practice law for
failing to comply with the mandatory continuing legal
education requirements. Likewise, the LSBA's records
reflect that from September 9, 2014 to February 4, 2015, and
again from September 9, 2015 to July 5, 2016, respondent was
declared ineligible to practice law for failure to pay his
bar dues and the disciplinary assessment. Respondent was
ineligible from September 9, 2015 to June 9, 2016 for failure
to file a trust account registration statement.
13, 2016, the ODC received a complaint from Judge Adam J.
Haney of the East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Court. In the
complaint, Judge Haney informed the ODC that on June 8, 2016,
respondent had appeared before him as counsel of record in a
juvenile detention hearing. The judge's staff later
searched the LSBA's attorney roster database in an effort
to update respondent's contact information. At that time,
the staff discovered that respondent was ineligible to
practice law. The LSBA subsequently confirmed directly to
Judge Haney that respondent was ineligible to practice for
failure to comply with his professional obligations.
Haney instructed his law clerk to contact respondent to
inform him that he was listed as ineligible to practice law
by the LSBA. Respondent told the law clerk that he would
investigate the matter and report back to the court, but when
Judge Haney had not heard from respondent, he filed a
complaint with the ODC.
occasions, the ODC forwarded a copy of the complaint to
respondent and requested a response. Respondent failed to
file a written response to the complaint, necessitating the
issuance of a subpoena to obtain his sworn statement.
Respondent appeared for the statement but refused to answer
any questions, stating that he would be hiring an attorney to
represent him and that he would not participate in the sworn
statement at that time. Two weeks later, respondent
reappeared at the ODC's offices, accompanied by his
attorney, and gave a sworn statement, during which he
admitted that he had engaged in the active and continuous
practice of law from September 9, 2015 to June 8, 2016, a
significant portion of the time that he was ineligible to
March 2017, the ODC filed formal charges against respondent,
alleging that his conduct as set forth above violated the
following provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct:
Rules 1.1(c) (a lawyer is required to comply with all of the
requirements of the Supreme Court's rules regarding
annual registration, including payment of Bar dues, payment
of the disciplinary assessment, timely notification of
changes of address, and proper disclosure of trust account
information or any changes therein) and 5.5(a) (engaging in
the unauthorized practice of law). Respondent, through
counsel, answered the formal charges and stated that his
failure to timely comply with his professional obligations
was unintentional and did not cause harm.
remand, this matter proceeded to a formal hearing. The ODC
introduced documentary evidence, including a letter from
Loretta Larsen, the Executive Director of the Louisiana State
Bar Association, certifying that respondent was deemed
ineligible for failing to comply with his MCLE requirements
for the period of May 31, 2014 through August 5, 2016. The
ODC also called Judge Haney and Michelle LaRose, the
LSBA's Director of Finance and Membership, to testify in
person before the hearing committee.
testified on his own behalf and on cross-examination by the
ODC. Respondent also introduced a transcript from the
Louisiana Supreme Court website indicating that he completed
his MCLE requirements in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
considering the testimony and evidence presented at the
hearing, the hearing committee made the following factual
upon documentary evidence submitted by respondent and the
testimony of respondent, the committee found that respondent
completed his MCLE requirements for the period of 2014
through 2016. Respondent presented a transcript from the
Louisiana Supreme Court website properly identifying him and
indicating that all MCLE requirements were completed for the
years in question. This information was supported by
respondent's testimony. The ODC did not provide evidence
to the contrary, and Ms. LaRose was unable to testify about
MCLE requirements or the adequacy of the reporting of such
information to her office.
upon the testimony of Ms. LaRose, the testimony of
respondent, and documentary evidence, the committee found
that respondent failed to pay his bar dues and the
disciplinary assessment for the period of September 9, 2015
to July 5, 2016. Ms. LaRose testified that her office was
responsible for collecting and reporting bar dues and
disciplinary assessments, and her records revealed that
respondent had not paid his dues ...