Disciplinary board recommends reprimand of Katrina attorney

Alejandro de los Rios Mar. 22, 2011, 2:31pm

An Orleans Parish attorney is facing disciplinary charges after he allegedly notarized four Hurricane Katrina insurance lawsuits, which were filed by a public adjuster without an attorney's license.

The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB) filed formal charges against Derek Russ for "aiding another in the unauthorized practice of law," "conduct involving misrepresentation" and "conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice."

LADB Chair Anthony Dunbar, attorney member Glen Adams and public member Roy Richardson filed the report to the Board on March 2.

The misconduct occurred in August and September 2007 when public adjustor S. Roy Ellison filed four suits on behalf of residents with insurance claims following hurricane Katrina.

Russ, then working as a clerk in the First City Court, notarized affidavits on four suits Ellison filed and three Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative forms without witnessing the parties sign.

The LADB committee found that Russ did not receive compensation for notarizing the affidavits and notarized documents without all parties present because of "his concern that a two-year prescriptive period for such claims was about to expire."

The committee believes Russ "is remorseful for these errors" and found that he was compliant in their investigation.

Russ "has the potential to be a productive member of the Bar [and the Committee] finds a public reprimand to be the appropriate sanction."

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