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In re Longmire Hingel

Supreme Court of Louisiana

November 19, 2019

IN RE: SALLY HARRISON LONGMIRE HINGEL

          ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING

          PER CURIAM

         This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against respondent, Sally Harrison Longmire Hingel, an attorney licensed to practice law in Louisiana, but currently ineligible to practice.[1]

         FORMAL CHARGES

         In September 2016, a client hired respondent to represent her in a divorce proceeding and to file a reconventional demand for spousal support, child custody, and child support.[2] The client paid respondent a $3, 000 retainer for the representation.

         A court date concerning the incidental matters was set for October 12, 2016, falling on Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday. The client, who is Jewish, requested that respondent file a motion for a continuance. Respondent later represented to the client that her court date had been continued to November 18, 2016.

         On November 18, 2016, the client, as well as her mother, who had flown in from Philadelphia for the hearing, and respondent appeared at the courthouse, only to find that their matter was not on the docket and that the opposing party and his attorney were not present. Respondent explained to the client that she believed the opposing party was filing the continuance, but the client could not reconcile this explanation since she had requested the continuance for religious reasons. Respondent told the client that she was "going straight upstairs" to file the necessary pleadings to have the matter reset. Upon her return, respondent represented to the client that the new court date was set for January 18, 2017.

         The client later discovered that respondent had not filed the pleadings to have the matter reset. The client also discovered that respondent failed to file anything in the matter. As a result, the client was divorced by default, without her issues of child custody, child support, or spousal support being addressed by the court.

         Also, on two occasions, respondent requested prescription drugs from the client. On the first, respondent telephoned the client and requested to purchase Xanax. Hours later, she appeared at the client's home with a pauper application and affidavit. Respondent purchased the Xanax and asked the client to sign the application and affidavit, although the $3, 000 retainer had already been paid. Respondent never filed the completed application and affidavit with the court.

         Then, in December 2016, the client contacted respondent regarding a fight she had with her ex-spouse. She requested an appointment to discuss the matter and what she believed to be an upcoming hearing. In response, respondent stated that "she hurt her toe" and asked if the client had any codeine, Vicodin, or Percocet that she could either purchase or have in exchange for a "discount" on legal services. The client advised that she did not have any of the requested drugs. The client later provided the ODC with text messages showing respondent's request for prescription drugs.

         The client terminated the representation after respondent, who had agreed to meet with her on December 16, 2016, at 10:00 a.m., cancelled the meeting at 10:05 a.m., and asked if the meeting could be conducted over the telephone instead. In response, the client fired respondent and requested a refund of unearned fees as well as her file. Respondent failed to provide the client with an accounting and failed to return the file, but she did return $2, 500 of the $3, 000 retainer.

         In April 2017, the client filed a complaint against respondent with the ODC. Respondent failed to respond to the complaint, necessitating the issuance of a subpoena to obtain her sworn statement. Respondent failed to appear for the sworn statement.

         DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS

         In March 2018, the ODC filed formal charges against respondent, alleging that her conduct violated the following provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 1.1(a) (failure to provide competent representation to a client), 1.1(b) (failure to comply with MCLE requirements), 1.3 (a lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client), 1.4(a)(4) (failure to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information), 1.5(f)(5) (failure to refund an unearned fee), 1.16 (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), 8.4(b) (commission of a ...


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