NEW ORLEANS – Rapides Parish District Attorney Phillip Terrell Jr. narrowly escaped the suspension of his law license and received five years probation after the Louisiana Supreme Court found he failed to properly supervise an employee accused of stealing from his private practice clients.
In a decision released last Friday, the Louisiana Supreme Court handed down a deferred suspension of one year and one day along with a five year probationary period for the 57-year-old Terrell.
The decision came after an investigation by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel found an employee working for Terrell’s private practice law firm had stolen client funds.
“[Terrell] failed to properly supervise a non-lawyer employee, allowing the employee to commingle and convert client funds,” the Louisiana Supreme Court press release announcing the decision states.
In addition to the deferred suspension and probation, Terrell has been ordered to repay the cost of the investigation and other related legal expenses.
The discipline decision handed down by the high court was not unanimous. Both Justice Scott J. Crichton and Justice Marcus R. Clark found the penalty to be “too harsh.”
In his dissent Clark said Terrell should not be held at fault for the incident.
“I do not find that the respondent was even negligent. All agree that he did not even cause harm to the public. The actual harm was caused by criminal conduct of a third person,” Clark wrote.