IN RE: DURWARD D. CASTEEL
ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING
disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the
Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against
respondent, Durward D. Casteel, an attorney licensed to
practice law in Louisiana but currently on interim suspension
pursuant to a joint motion of the parties filed in November
2018. In re: Casteel, 18-1745 (La. 11/5/18), 255
was hired to defend Patrick O'Donnell against a claim
pending in Oklahoma. On February 25, 2015, Mr. O'Donnell
forwarded to respondent the sum of $350, 000 to fund Mr.
O'Donnell's contribution of any future settlement.
When a settlement was reached, Mr. O'Donnell called upon
respondent to fund his contribution to the settlement using
the funds entrusted to respondent for safe keeping.
Respondent advised Mr. O'Donnell that he had converted
the funds to his own use and that they were no longer
available. In a sworn statement to the ODC, respondent
confirmed that he converted the entirety of Mr.
2014, respondent was hired to defend Criterion Claim
Solutions of Omaha in a lawsuit against a named insured. The
carrier negotiated a settlement of the claim and forwarded to
respondent a $10, 000 check payable to the plaintiff to be
used for the completion of the settlement. Upon receipt of
the check, respondent forged the plaintiff's name, cashed
the check, and converted the funds to his own use. In a sworn
statement to the ODC, respondent confirmed that he forged the
plaintiff's name on the settlement check and converted
the funds to his own use.
December 2018, the ODC filed formal charges against
respondent, alleging that his conduct violated the following
provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 8.4(a)
(violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct), 8.4(b)
(commission of a criminal act that reflects adversely on the
lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a
lawyer), and 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving
dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation).
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 documentary evidence
on the issue of sanctions. Respondent filed nothing for the
hearing committee's consideration.
considering the ODC's deemed admitted submission, the
hearing committee made factual findings consistent with the
deemed admitted factual allegations set forth in the formal
charges. The committee additionally found that respondent
failed to repay the converted funds. Based on these facts,
the committee determined that respondent violated the Rules
of Professional Conduct as alleged in the formal charges.
committee then determined that respondent violated duties
owed to his clients and the public. His conduct was knowing,
willful, and intentional. His clients suffered significant
actual harm as a direct result of his actions. After
considering the ABA's Standards for Imposing ...