disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the
Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against
respondent, Quiana Marie Hunt, an attorney licensed to
practice law in Louisiana.
February 13, 2017, the ODC received notice that
respondent's client trust account held insufficient funds
on February 2, 2017 to honor a check in the amount of $1,
500. On February 15, 2017, the ODC sent notice of the
overdraft to respondent with a request for an explanation.
Respondent failed to claim the ODC's notice sent via
certified mail. The ODC sent a second notice to respondent
via certified mail on March 7, 2017. In response, respondent
faxed some of her banking records to the ODC. However, this
response only partially satisfied the ODC's request for
documents. On April 18, 2017, the ODC gave respondent two
weeks to gather the remaining documents.
received no response, on July 14, 2017, the ODC wrote to
respondent in an attempt to schedule her sworn statement.
Again, the ODC received no response. Thereafter, the ODC
issued a subpoena directing respondent to produce the
documents by September 26, 2017 and to appear for a sworn
statement on October 10, 2017. Respondent was personally
served with the subpoena on August 28, 2017. Nevertheless,
she failed to produce the documents or appear for the sworn
rescheduled respondent's sworn statement for October 13,
2017 and asked respondent to bring the requested documents at
that time. Respondent appeared for the sworn statement but
did not fully comply with the document request.
the sworn statement, respondent indicated the overdraft
occurred because the check presented for payment was issued
several months previously, and she had withdrawn funds to pay
an expert witness, leaving insufficient funds to cover the
check. When the overdraft occurred, respondent deposited
funds into her trust account to cover the insufficiency and
issued a new check with extra money for the payee's
also indicated that she reconciles her trust account every
two to three months. However, during the time period at
issue, she was experiencing health issues and was preoccupied
with federal litigation. Respondent did not provide the ODC
with any reconciliations, computer records, or ledger sheets.
trust account payments made to Office Depot, respondent
indicated they were for office supplies used for trial
preparation for a specific client. Although she stated she
had receipts to verify these purchases, she failed to provide
copies of them to the ODC. With respect to cash withdrawals
from the trust account, respondent indicated the following:
$1, 000 withdrawn on November 1, 2016 was to pay a cash down
payment to an expert witness; $100 withdrawn on February 8,
2017 was to pay a paralegal to do research for a client's
case; and $150 withdrawn on February 13, 2017 was a legal fee
for representing her client, Bridgette McCoy. Regarding Ms.
McCoy, whom respondent was representing on a contingency
basis, respondent explained that she had raised $3, 900 on
Ms. McCoy's behalf and deposited the funds into her trust
account in "bits and pieces" for use to pursue Ms.
McCoy's case. Respondent stated that she had records to
reflect the receipt and distribution of funds on behalf of
Ms. McCoy and other clients; however, she failed to provide
the documents to the ODC. Finally, respondent agreed to pay
the costs of the previously scheduled sworn statement as well
as the current one. She also agreed to provide the ODC with
the requested documents within two weeks. Respondent failed
to pay the costs or provide the documents.
the limited documents provided by respondent, the ODC's
forensic auditor prepared an audit report of respondent's
trust account for September 2016 through March 2017. The
audit identified misuse of respondent's trust account as
follows: checks payable to cash; cash withdrawals; payment of
operating expenses (office supplies); absence of bank
reconciliations; obviously varied signatures for
respondent's endorsement on checks; and inability or
unwillingness to provide documents and information (client
agreements, settlement statements, billing records, proof of
deposits, identification of transactions, etc.) necessary for
completion of the audit.
alleged that respondent's conduct violated the following
provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules
1.15(a)(f) (safekeeping property of clients or third
persons), 8.1(c) (failure to cooperate with the ODC in its
investigation), and 8.4(a) (violation of the Rules of
filed the aforementioned formal charges against respondent in
February 2018. Respondent failed to answer the 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, but the parties
were given an opportunity to file with the hearing committee
written arguments and ...