LAFAYETTE – In an Aug. 23, official hearing document, Louisiana's Office of Disciplinary Conduct has pressed formal charges against attorney Lance Hac Nguyen consisting of one count of allegedly contacting another attorney’s client without the knowledge of the attorney and allegedly failing to cooperate with the ODC’s investigation.
Both charges violate the Louisiana Professional Rules of Conduct and the ODC recommended that Nguyen be suspended for one year and one day.
The document explained on March 3, 2014, formal charges were mailed via certified mail to Nguyen’s last known address and it was recorded as received. Despite receiving the letter, Nguyen failed to file an answer to the charges within the time allowed by the court.
Because Nguyen failed to respond, on April 15, 2014, the ODC filed a motion to deem the factual allegations admitted. Then it filed its submission on sanctions June 20, 2014. The document explained the hearing committee found the factual allegations as uncontested, and the formal charges were proven by clear and convincing evidence.
The complainant in the case is United States District Court Judge Elizabeth E. Foote, the document said.
The document further explained that in May 1999, Nguyen was admitted to practice law in Texas, but was not admitted to practice law in Louisiana.
Nguyen was allowed to practice pro hac vice in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana in a specific case. He represented defendant Tyrone Thibeaux. Another defendant in the case, Glenn Charles, who was represented by another attorney, was also sentenced and at the sentencing proceeding, it was brought to the attention of the court that Nguyen had improperly contacted Charles.
“This contact occurred outside the presence of Mr. Charles' attorney of record, and without the approval of his attorney, despite [him] knowing that Mr. Charles was represented by counsel,” the document said. “The court issued a sua sponte order to show cause why Nguyen should not be sanctioned for the unauthorized and improper communication.”
Nguyen also admitted to improper contact with Charles and Foote sanctioned him April 11, 2014. The matter was then referred to Chief Judge Dee D. Drell, as well as the state bars of Texas and Louisiana. He was also suspended from the practice of law in the Western District of Louisiana for a period of eight months.
The ODC explained it repeatedly tried to contact Nguyen to no avail. It sent letters that were documented as received in January 2016 and February 2016, but there was never any response.
The document explained that based on the case, determining the baseline sanction for Nguyen’s behavior is suspension for the first violation and disbarment for the second violation.
“However, the sanction to be imposed may be adjusted in accordance with the presence of aggravating and mitigating factors,” the document said.