NEW ORLEANS – In a June 10 recommendation to the Louisiana Supreme Court, the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB) accepted the formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Council (ODC) against attorney Mitchell M. Evans, II to be suspended for three years for alleged professional misconduct in three separate cases.
“The charges in each matter allege the following violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct,” the official document from LDAC said. “These matters were heard by three separate Hearing Committees. As described in greater detail…each Committee concluded that (Evans) violated some of the Rules alleged in the formal charges and recommended a sanction. The Board adopts the factual findings of each Committee. The Board also adopts each Committees' conclusions regarding the Rules with a few exceptions. As a sanction, the Board recommends that (Evans) be suspended for three years.”
In the first charge, filed on Aug. 29, 2011, Hilda Mae Bruno paid Evans $1,750 for his services. Bruno stated she has only been able to speak to Evans once since his hiring date, though she made repeated attempts to contact him. By the time Bruno filed her complaint, Evans had only enrolled and filed a Petition to Partition the Community Property on her behalf. Bruno had to hire another attorney to complete the work that she hired Evans to perform. A copy of the complaint was sent to Evans via certified mail on Sept. 7, 2011, but he did not respond. Evans had to be subpoenaed for a sworn statement at the ODC offices before he would address the complaint.
“To date, no additional information had been forthcoming from (Evans) regarding this matter,” the LDAC report said. “Further, (he) has failed to return any of the unearned portion of the $1,750 fee that he received from (Bruno).”
The actions of Evans, according to the LDAC, constitute failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, failing to keep the client reasonable informed about the status of a matter, failing to return the unearned portion of a fixed fee, knowingly making a false statement of material fact in connection with a disciplinary matter, failing to cooperate with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in its investigation of any matter before it, and violating or attempting to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In the second charge, the ODC received a complaint from Cassandra Gavin Bobadilla, on Aug. 31, 2011. Bobadilla initially hired Evans to respond on her behalf to a Motion to Modify and To Transfer filed in Texas regarding the custody of her son. She also wanted Evans to file the necessary pleadings in Vernon Parish to have the custody decree enforced in Louisiana.
Evans explained to Bobadilla that he would charge $1,700 for his services, which included $200 in court costs. Bobadilla paid $850 on March 9, 2011, stressing that the motion needed to be filed as soon as possible. Bobadilla stated that she continually called Evans’ office after paying the $850, but was never able to speak with him. Eventually, she phoned the court in Texas and in Vernon Parish to learn that no response had been filed on her behalf in either location.
After repeated attempts to contact Evans to no avail, and repeated canceled appointments, a default judgment was entered against Bobadilla in the Texas proceeding. After realizing this, she contacted Evans via e-mail and requested that the refund she was owed be applied to representation for dissolution of her marriage.
“(Evans) answered the e-mail informing (Bobadilla) that he would apply some of the funds toward the dissolution of the marriage legal work, but explained to her that he was owed some money for the work he performed on the custody matter,” the report said.
Bobadilla explained that she had to hire another attorney to complete the necessary legal work and filed the instant complaint with the ODC. Again, it took a subpoena from the ODC before he would respond.
“Further, (Evans) has failed to return any of the unearned portion of the $850 fee that he received from (Bobadilla),” the LDAC report said.
The LDAC agreed with the ODC that Evans failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, failed to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of a matter, failed to return the unearned portion of a fixed fee, knowingly making a false statement of material fact in connection with a disciplinary matter, failing to cooperate with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in its investigation of any matter before it and violating or attempting to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In the third charge, the ODC received a complaint from Deborah Hollie and Shondra Hollie on Oct. 3, 2011. Both explained that they hired Evans so that Shondra Hollie could regain custody of her two children. Evans claimed that he was hired to resume visitation only by Shondra Hollie with her two children. Furthermore, Evans said he was only paid $3,350, but Deborah Hollie stated that she paid Evans in excess of $7,000.
Like the first two charges, Evans did not respond until the ODC’s subpoena, and then he explained that he fulfilled his duties by gaining visitation for Shondra Hollie’s two children and did not owe Shondra or Deborah Hollie any unearned portion of his fees. The ODC asked Evans for full documentation, but to date, it has not been provided.
According to the LDAC, the actions of Evans constitute failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, failing to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of a matter, failing to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information, failing to communicate to the client the basis or rate of the fee and expenses for which the client will be responsible before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation, failing to return the unearned portion of a fixed fee, knowingly making a false statement of material fact in connection with a disciplinary matter, failing to cooperate with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in its investigation of any matter before it and violating the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In all three counts, Evans blamed his secretary for not giving him the information he needed to respond to all claimants in a timely fashion. In all three counts, he said he could not attend court dates as they were initially scheduled. After requests for further information on all three counts, Evans never provided the additional documentation requested by the ODC.
The LDAC suggested that Evans be suspended from the practice of law for three years, and that he be assessed with the costs and expenses of all proceedings.