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In re Reid

Supreme Court of Louisiana

October 21, 2019

IN RE: MICHAEL SEAN REID

          ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING

          PER CURIAM

         This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against respondent, Michael Sean Reid, 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 2001.

         On December 9, 2016, we placed respondent on interim suspension after the ODC reported four overdrafts in his client trust account between May 31, 2016 and July 21, 2016 and received several complaints from his clients. In re: Reid, 16-1641 (La. 12/9/16), 207 So.3d 1039. On December 5, 2018, we disbarred respondent, retroactive to the date of his interim suspension, for neglecting several legal matters, failing to communicate with those clients, failing to refund unearned fees to several clients, allowing his client trust account to become overdrawn on four occasions, and failing to cooperate with the ODC in its investigations. In re: Reid, 18-0849 (La. 12/5/18), ___So. 3d___ ("Reid I").

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

         FORMAL CHARGES

         Count I - The Mouton Matter

         In early 2016, Daniel Mouton hired respondent to assist him in modifying child custody, paying a total of $2, 750 in attorney's fees and court costs on February 25, 2016. A few months later, Mr. Mouton learned respondent failed to perform any work on his behalf. Mr. Mouton requested a refund via text message, but respondent advised Mr. Mouton that he had spent the money and needed some time to get the money together for a refund. Respondent never refunded the money.

         The endorsement on Mr. Mouton's check indicated that respondent cashed the check instead of depositing it into his client trust account. However, even if respondent did deposit the check into his trust account, the balance in the account was less than Mr. Mouton's payment on February 28, 2016 as well as at the end of March 2016 and April 2016. Mr. Mouton has a claim pending with the Louisiana State Bar Association's Client Assistance Fund.

         Respondent received notice of Mr. Mouton's disciplinary complaint in December 2016. Nevertheless, he failed to respond.

         The ODC alleged that respondent's conduct violated Rules 1.3 (failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client), 1.4 (failure to communicate with a client), 1.5(f)(5) (failure to refund an unearned fee), 1.15(a) (safekeeping property of clients or third parties), 1.16(d) (obligations upon termination of the representation), 8.1(c) (failure to cooperate with the ODC in its investigation), 8.4(a) (violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct), and 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

         Count II - The Seay Matter

         In September 2015, Kirby Seay paid respondent a total of $2, 500 to assist her in a child custody modification and child support matter. Ms. Seay never signed an agreement with respondent, and her case remains pending.

         In June 2016, Ms. Seay hired respondent to file a temporary restraining order ("TRO"). On June 6, 2016, she met with respondent to discuss the TRO. During the meeting, respondent was falling asleep and could not recall previous conversations with Ms. Seay. Respondent advised Ms. Seay to contact the Child Support Enforcement Services since the TRO would use most of her remaining retainer. Because respondent failed to provide adequate legal advice regarding the TRO, Ms. Seay was forced to dismiss the case.

         Since then, Ms. Seay has tried to contact respondent via emails, telephone calls, and text messages to obtain her file and a refund of the unearned fees. However, those attempts at contact have been unsuccessful.

         The endorsement on Ms. Seay's checks indicated that respondent cashed the checks instead of depositing them into his trust account. However, even if respondent did deposit the checks into his trust account, the balance in the account was less than Ms. Seay's total payment at the end of November 2015, January 2016, February 2016, March 2016, and April 2016. Ms. Seay filed a claim with the Client Assistance Fund, which paid her $1, 500 in October 2018.

         Respondent received notice of Ms. Seay's disciplinary complaint in December 2016. Nevertheless, he failed to respond.

         The ODC alleged that respondent's conduct violated Rules 1.3, 1.4, 1.15(a), 8.1(c), and 8.4(c) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

         Count III - The Meaux Matter

         In March 2016, Edward Meaux hired respondent to represent him in a child support matter. Mr. Meaux paid respondent a total of $6, 095.18. Respondent worked on Mr. Meaux's legal matter until June 2016 but, thereafter, stopped communicating with Mr. Meaux or doing any work on his behalf. Mr. Meaux tried ...


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