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In re Salinas

Supreme Court of Louisiana

September 24, 2019

IN RE: MURRAY NEIL SALINAS

          ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING

          PER CURIAM.

         This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against respondent, Murray Neil Salinas, a disbarred attorney.

         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 2003. In 2013, respondent was admonished for failing to cooperate with the ODC in its investigation of a complaint. In 2016, we disbarred respondent for neglecting several legal matters, failing to refund unearned fees to several clients, and failing to cooperate with the ODC in four investigations, all of which occurred between March 2012 and the latter part of 2014. In re: Salinas, 16-1381 (La. 10/17/16), 202 So.3d 163 ("Salinas I").

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

         FORMAL CHARGES

         The ODC filed two sets of formal charges against respondent under disciplinary board docket numbers 17-DB-014 and 18-DB-079. Respondent failed to answer either set of formal charges. Accordingly, the factual allegations contained therein were deemed admitted and proven by clear and convincing evidence pursuant to Supreme Court Rule XIX, § 11(E)(3). No formal hearing was held in either matter, but the parties were given an opportunity to file with the hearing committee written arguments and documentary evidence on the issue of sanctions. The matters were consolidated on February 4, 2019 before being considered together by a single hearing committee. Respondent filed nothing for the hearing committee's consideration.

         17-DB-014

         Count I – The Brooks Matter

         Broderick Brooks, Jr. retained respondent to represent him in post-conviction relief proceedings. Respondent agreed to file the post-conviction application upon receipt of one-third of the total $1, 000 fee. Mr. Brooks' family paid respondent $400 during April and May 2012. Respondent failed to file the post-conviction application, and the two-year statute of limitations for the application expired in December 2013.

         After a prolonged period of Mr. Brooks' family attempting to contact respondent to no avail, Mr. Brooks' father finally made contact with respondent in August 2015. At the conclusion of the discussion, respondent agreed to return the entirety of the fee paid but has never done so.

         Respondent received notice of Mr. Brooks' disciplinary complaint on April 27, 2016 but has never answered or otherwise responded to the ODC.

         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), 1.5(f)(5) (failure to refund an unearned fee), and 8.1(c) (failure to cooperate with the ODC in its investigation).

         Count II – ...


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