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In re Parker

Supreme Court of Louisiana

October 15, 2019

IN RE: CAROL E. PARKER

          ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING

          PER CURIAM.

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

         UNDERLYING FACTS

         On July 15, 2010, Cathy Williams retained respondent to complete litigation pertaining to the partition of community property. That day, respondent contacted opposing counsel, Roy H. Maughan, Jr., to request a continuance for a rule to show cause hearing that was scheduled for July 26th. Respondent explained to Mr. Maughan that she needed additional time to review the file history and that her mother, who was having major surgery on July 19th, required her assistance. For these reasons, Mr. Maughan agreed to a continuance. Respondent did not make any formal arrangements to secure the continuance until Friday, July 23rd at 5:30 p.m., at which time she faxed a letter to the judge's office.

         Despite her representations to Mr. Maughan and her filing of the untimely after-hours fax, respondent appeared in court on Monday, July 26th. Mr. Maughan did not appear, having relied on respondent's representation that she required the continuance and had taken the proper and necessary steps to request the continuance from the court. As a result of his failure to appear, his client's rule was dismissed.

          In October 2010, the attorneys appeared before Judge Zorraine Waguespack for a status conference, at which time the parties were given a pre-trial conference date of November 22, 2010, at 2:00 p.m. During the pre-trial conference, Judge Waguespack set trial for the following day, at 9:00 a.m. Respondent asked for a continuance, but Judge Waguespack denied her request.

         On the morning of trial, respondent failed to appear and she fax-filed a motion to recuse Judge Waguespack. The court initially found her in contempt; however, prior to the court's first recess, respondent made an appearance, and the contempt was set aside. After the recess, respondent went on the record to inform the court that she would withdraw the motion to recuse provided she receive her discovery from opposing counsel or if the court would hear her motion to compel discovery, which she had prepared to file that day. Judge Waguespack denied the motion and advised that the recusal matter would be set for hearing.

         The recusal motion was allotted to Judge Bruce Bennett and set for a hearing, for which he had to rearrange his docket and request a special court reporter. After receiving notice that the hearing would be held on December 6th, respondent filed a motion to continue and reset the hearing to recuse Judge Waguespack. Judge Bennett denied the motion. Two days later, respondent filed a motion to dismiss the motion to recuse Judge Waguespack. Judge Bennett denied the motion.

         At the recusal hearing, respondent informed Judge Bennett that, earlier on that day, she had fax-filed a motion to recuse him. Judge Bennett then voluntarily recused himself. Also on that day, respondent filed a notice of intention to apply for emergency writs of review from the First Circuit Court of Appeal, with stay order requested, regarding the allotment procedure for the 21st Judicial District Court.

         On December 14th, two days before the second scheduled recusal hearing, respondent filed a motion to dismiss the motion to recuse Judge Bennett. The property matter was then placed back on the original docket of Judge Waguespack.

         DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS

         In January 2011, Judge Bennett filed a complaint against respondent with the ODC. In May 2011, Mr. Maughan filed a complaint against respondent with the ODC. In November 2017, the ODC filed formal charges against respondent, alleging that her conduct violated the following provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 3.1 (meritorious claims and contentions), 8.4(a) (violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct), 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation), and 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).

         Respondent answered the formal charges, denying any misconduct. The matter then proceeded to a formal hearing on the merits.

         Hearing Committee Report

         After considering the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing, the committee made factual findings that are generally consistent with the underlying facts set forth above and made the following additional findings:

         Respondent testified that she appeared in court that Monday morning as a precautionary measure because she had faxed the continuance letter to the judge's office on a Friday evening. Mr. Maughan, who did not appear, was understandably upset upon learning that the matter had been dismissed. He also ...


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