METAIRIE — The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled on Feb. 3 to disbar attorney Quenton I. White from the practice of law for alleged misappropriation of client funds and other violations.
The order was decreed after approval of a petition filed by the Louisiana State Bar Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
The ruling stemmed from misconduct charges brought against White in Tennessee, where he was also licensed to practice. According to Tennessee court documents, White allegedly mishandled funds for five clients and failed to appropriately withdraw from representation, among other infractions.
The attorney was admitted to the Louisiana State Bar in 1986 and the Tennessee State Bar in 1992, according to his profile page on tbpr.org.
On Feb. 9, 2016, the Supreme Court of Tennessee suspended the attorney’s license to practice law while it conducted a further investigation into misconduct charges. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel, upon receiving notice of the order from the Tennessee court, decided to “initiate reciprocal discipline” against the attorney. The Louisiana petition was granted on May 13, 2016, and White was placed on an interim suspension.
The Supreme Court of Tennessee found White guilty of failing to provide competent representation to a client, failing to act with reasonable diligence in representing a client, and failing to communicate with a client. In addition, the Supreme Court of Tennessee also determined that White had violated the state’s rules of professional conduct sections 1.5 (fee arrangements), 1.15 (safekeeping property of clients or third persons), and 1.16 (obligations upon termination of the representation). The collection of charges and violations stemmed from the mishandling of five separate clients of which the attorney was ordered to pay restitution totaling $150,000.
Upon receiving the the motion from the Tennessee's Supreme Court, on Dec. 1, 2016, the Louisiana State Bar issued a notice to White giving the attorney 30 days to tell the courts why identical discipline was unnecessary. According to court documents, the attorney failed to respond to the notification.
The Louisiana Supreme Court determined that deference to the Supreme Court of Tennessee's ruling was adequate, as the ruling did not meet one of four qualifications for deviation. Tennessee's Supreme Court proceedings were not lacking in notice or opportunity for the attorney to respond or defend himself against claims. Sufficient proof was provided in the proceedings establishing White’s misconduct and does not warrant differing discipline. Lastly, the imposition of duplicate discipline would not result in a “grave injustice.”
Based on the evidence provided by Tennessee's Supreme Court investigation into the matters of misconduct and the lack of response to the notice provided by the Louisiana Supreme Court by the attorney, the state of Louisiana determined that disbarment in both states was warranted discipline. The nature of the misconduct charges that White was found culpable of demonstrated harm to his clients and the public; therefore, it was deemed necessary to terminate White’s license to practice.
According to its website, the Louisiana Supreme Court is located in New Orleans and was established in 1813 as the highest court in the state. It is presided over by seven justices: Chief Justice Bernette J. Johnson, who was appointed in February 2013; Greg G. Guidry; Scott J. Crichton; Jeannette T. Knoll; Marcus R. Clark; Jefferson D. Hughes III; and John L. Weimer.