Kerry Goff Jul. 15, 2016, 6:26pm


NEW ORLEANS – In a June 17 petition to the Louisiana Supreme Court, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) requested the “imposition of reciprocal discipline” against attorney Jeffrey N. Aldous, who is licensed to practice law in Louisiana and Utah, based upon discipline imposed by the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court because of an alleged failure to communicate with a client and a lack of cooperation during the investigation.

The report explained that in March 2013, a client paid Aldous a $5,000 retainer to draft a compensation plan and prepare trademarks for the client’s company. Eventually, Aldous allegedly stopped communicating with the client, despite the client’s repeated attempts to contact him.

“On May 1, 2013, the client terminated [Aldous’] services and requested an accounting and refund of the retainer,” the report said. “The client requested an accounting and a refund three additional times, with no response from [Aldous], before filing an attorney disciplinary complaint against him with the Utah Office of Professional Conduct (OPC).”

Aldous purportedly failed to respond to the complaint or cooperate with the OPC in its investigation and the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court found that Aldous’ conduct violated certain provisions of the Utah Rules of Professional Conduct, specifically the failure to communicate with a client and failure to respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority.

“Consequently, on Dec. 10, 2015, the chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee publicly reprimanded [Aldous],” the report said. “After receiving notice of the Utah order of discipline, the ODC filed a motion to initiate reciprocal discipline proceedings in Louisiana.”

On April 27, the ODC rendered an order giving Aldous 30 days to demonstrate why the imposition of identical discipline in Louisiana would be unwarranted, but he failed to file any response.

According to Supreme Court Rule XIX, § 21(D), the standard for imposition of discipline on a reciprocal basis provides discipline to be imposed upon the expiration of 30 days from service of the notice unless disciplinary counsel, the lawyer, or the court could prove otherwise.

Reasons for lack of disciplinary action in Louisiana would include discovering that there was not enough notice, there was not enough rational proof from the original discipline for another court to support, it goes against public policy of the jurisdiction or the misconduct warrants substantially different discipline in this state. In Aldous’ case, reciprocal discipline was claimed to be warranted.

“The burden is on the party seeking different discipline in this jurisdiction to demonstrate that the imposition of the same discipline is not appropriate,” the report said. “In the instant case, [Aldous] has made no showing of infirmities in the Utah proceeding, nor do we discern any from our review of the record. Furthermore, we find there is no reason to deviate from the sanction imposed in Utah as only under extraordinary circumstances should there be a significant variance from the sanction imposed by the other jurisdiction.”

Under the circumstances, the court found it appropriate to defer to the Utah judgment imposing discipline upon Aldous, which was to publicly reprimand him.

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