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In re King

Supreme Court of Louisiana

May 20, 2019

IN RE: YOLANDA JULIE KING

          ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING

          PER CURIAM [*]

         This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against respondent, Yolanda Julie King, an attorney licensed to practice law in Louisiana but currently on interim suspension based upon her conviction of a serious crime. In re: King, 16-0331 (La. 3/14/16), 186 So.3d 649 (Johnson, C.J., recused).

         UNDERLYING FACTS

         In February 2013, respondent qualified to run for Orleans Parish Juvenile Court, representing in her qualifying documents that she was domiciled in Orleans Parish. Respondent subsequently prevailed in a runoff election. In March 2014, a grand jury in Orleans Parish indicted respondent on two felony criminal charges arising out of allegations that she was actually domiciled in St. Tammany Parish and that she made false representations about her domicile when she qualified to run for judicial office.

         Following the indictment, this court disqualified respondent from exercising any judicial function during the pendency of further proceedings. In re: King, 14-0924 (La. 5/15/14), 140 So.3d 711 (Johnson, C.J., recused). Prior to a final adjudication of the judicial discipline matter against respondent, she lost the status of a judge when she was defeated in the fall 2014 elections. As a result, the ODC assumed jurisdiction over respondent.

         In November 2015, a jury found respondent guilty of both counts of the indictment. She was sentenced in February 2016 to a suspended jail sentence and probation.

         Thereafter, respondent filed a motion for an out of time appeal of her criminal conviction, which motion was granted. The court of appeal then remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to conduct an evidentiary hearing on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. State v. King, 17-0123 (La.App. 4th Cir. 10/27/17), 231 So.3d 110.

         Following remand, on December 18, 2017, respondent entered into a plea agreement, whereby the original convictions were vacated. In exchange, respondent pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of La. R.S. 18:1461.3(C)(4) (disobeying any lawful instruction of a registrar, deputy registrar, or commissioner).[1]

         DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS

         In March 2016, the ODC filed formal charges against respondent, alleging that her conduct violated the following provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 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), and 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation).

         Respondent initially failed to answer the formal charges, and the factual allegations contained therein were deemed admitted and proven by clear and convincing evidence. Eight months later, respondent, through counsel, filed an unopposed motion to recall the deemed admitted order. She also sought a stay of the formal charge proceedings pending her criminal appeal. The motion and request for a stay were granted, and the deemed admitted order was recalled.

         In April 2018, the ODC filed a supplemental and amending formal charge. Respondent filed an answer and admitted to the factual allegations and rule violations contained in the supplemental and amending formal charge. She also waived a formal hearing and requested the opportunity to submit a written argument on mitigation and appropriate sanction.

         In her submission, respondent indicated that she is the sole caregiver for her eighty-eight year old mother and fifty-six year old brother, both of whom are disabled and in need of constant care. After respondent's sister passed away in November 2015, respondent moved to Atlanta, Georgia to take care of them. In May 2018, respondent was forced to move with them back to Louisiana due to financial ...


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