BATON ROUGE – In a recent disciplinary
matter arising from formal charges, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC)
requested that attorney Toby J. Aucoin be suspended from practicing law for a
year and a day.
After receiving a complaint from April
Suzanne Lewis alleging misconduct by Aucoin, ODC made attempts on Jan. 23, 2015
and Feb. 10, 2015 to serve notice of the complaint by certified mail to Aucoin.
While these attempts failed, the notice was successfully hand delivered to
Aucoin on March 9, 2015.
Aucion responded to ODC, agreeing with
the complainant’s accusation that he had been unresponsive. He stated that
injuries from an automobile accident affected his ability to provide diligent
representation. After this initial response, Aucion did not answer subsequent ODC
attempts to contact him by phone. The ODC filed formal charges on Dec. 22, 2015 and
Aucion was served on Dec. 31, 2015. He did not file a response within the 20
days required by law.
In her complaint, Lewis alleged that
Aucion accepted $800 from her on July 22, 2014 and agreed to prepare paperwork
to expunge her criminal record. Over the next several months, Lewis tried repeatedly
to contact Aucion for a status report but never received a return call.
When Lewis learned through the District
Attorney’s Office that her expungement paperwork had not been filed, Lewis used
the court’s docket to find out when Aucion was scheduled to appear and
confronted him in court. As a result, Aucion met with Lewis to prepare
expungement paperwork and after a few hours, promised to complete it and mail it
to her within a week. When the paperwork did not arrive, Lewis attempted to
contact Aucion without success. At that time, she filed a complaint with ODC.
The ODC refers to guidelines set by Louisiana
Supreme Court (LASC) Rule XIX, Section 10(c) for determining discipline: whether
or not the attorney violated a duty to a client, the public, the legal system
or the profession; whether the attorney acted knowingly or intentionally; the
amount of actual or potential injury caused by the attorney’s misconduct; and
any aggravating or mitigating factors.
The ODC alleged that Aucion violated Rules
of Professional Conduct when he failed to communicate with his client, failed
to represent her with diligence and promptness, and abandoned her and her
efforts to have her criminal record expunged. In its report, the Hearing
Committee stated, “(Aucion) demeaned the
profession and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the fair administration of
In addition to suspension, the ODC also
recommended Aucion pay restitution in the amount of $800 plus interest
commencing July 22, 2014, and all expenses related to the disciplinary
The ODC Hearing Committee found the
complainant’s accusations were substantiated. In weighing the options for
sanction, the committee voiced a concern in its report that Aucion showed no
remorse for his actions and their affect on his client.
“While (Aucion) has no prior history of
discipline under the Rules of Professional Responsibility, what concerns the
Committee most is that (Aucion) has not taken any action to complete the legal
work nor has he returned the fee monies to the complainant suggesting a
continued and blatant disregard for the ethical stands (he) swore under oath to
uphold," the committee announced.