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In re Franks

Supreme Court of Louisiana

May 28, 2019

IN RE: MAURICE R. FRANKS

          ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING

          PER CURIAM

         Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule XIX, § 21, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") has filed a petition seeking the imposition of reciprocal discipline against respondent, Maurice R. Franks, an attorney licensed to practice law in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Colorado, based upon discipline imposed by the Supreme Court of Colorado.

         UNDERLYING FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In 1987, respondent maintained a law office in Denver, Colorado, wherein he accepted new legal cases and collected retainers until October 21, 1987. On October 23, 1987, respondent essentially abandoned his law practice when he moved to Ireland without notice to most of his clients. Thereafter, respondent failed to file his 1988 annual registration statement or pay the $90 registration fee.

         Seven of respondent's clients filed grievances with the Colorado Disciplinary Counsel. Respondent failed to appear and answer a multiple count disciplinary complaint. The Supreme Court of Colorado ultimately found that respondent abandoned his law practice, converted his clients' funds to his own use, and failed to cooperate in the disciplinary proceedings. For this misconduct, the Supreme Court of Colorado disbarred[1] respondent and ordered him to make restitution to the seven clients in the total amount of $14, 750.36.

         After receiving notice of the Colorado order of discipline on January 27, 2017, the ODC filed a motion to initiate reciprocal discipline proceedings in Louisiana, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule XIX, § 21. A copy of the Final Judgment and Order issued by the Supreme Court of Colorado was attached to the motion.

         On September 7, 2018, this court rendered an order giving respondent thirty days to demonstrate why the imposition of identical discipline in this state would be unwarranted. Respondent did not file a response to the court's order.

         DISCUSSION

         The standard for imposition of discipline on a reciprocal basis is set forth in Supreme Court Rule XIX, § 21(D). That rule provides:

Discipline to be Imposed. Upon the expiration of thirty days from service of the notice pursuant to the provisions of paragraph B, this court shall impose the identical discipline … unless disciplinary counsel or the lawyer demonstrates, or this court finds that it clearly appears upon the face of the record from which the discipline is predicated, that:
(1)The procedure was so lacking in notice or opportunity to be heard as to constitute a deprivation of due process; or
(2)Based on the record created by the jurisdiction that imposed the discipline, there was such infirmity of proof establishing the misconduct as to give rise to the clear conviction that the court could not, consistent with its duty, accept as final the conclusion on that subject; or
(3)The imposition of the same discipline by the court would result in grave injustice or be offensive to the public ...

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