NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Supreme Court reviewed Sunset attorney Olita Magee Domingue’s request to resign from the practice of law in lieu of discipline on Feb. 3.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel had commenced an investigation into “numerous complaints of serious professional misconduct against (Domingue).” According to Supreme Court documents archived on the Louisiana Attorney Discipline Board’s website, Domingue allegedly mishandled her client trust account, failed to provide accountings upon request, and failing to return unearned fees. During the ODC investigation, Domingue allegedly failed to cooperate.
The ODC recommended that the attorney’s request for permanent disbarment be granted. The Supreme Court ordered Domingue to make restitution to either her clients or the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Client Assistance Fund. In addition, the ODC determined that Domingue should be permanently prohibited from practicing law in any jurisdiction and may not seek readmission at any time.
Cases of attorney misconduct are handled by the LADB, which was established in 1990 as a branch of the Louisiana Supreme Court, according to the group's website. The LADB is comprised of 14 members who’s purpose is to investigate claims of attorney misconduct brought before the Supreme Court. Once an investigation is completed, the LADB recommends disciplinary proceedings.
The members of the LADB are made up volunteers appointed by the Supreme Court. The Louisiana State Bar Association nominates one member per year who has previous experience in disciplining attorneys. In addition, four members of the general public with “diverse backgrounds.” The term for each member is three years, and no member may serve more than two consecutive terms.
The LADB arranges hearings for disciplinary matters which are conducted by the Hearing Committee. The committee is made up of 50 volunteer members with the same term duration and limits as the LADB members. All Hearing Committee members are appointed by the LADB and must meet the following requirements; must possess good moral character, possess a Louisiana law license, have practiced law for at least five years, cannot hold political office, cannot be a partner in a firm where two other partners already serve on the committee, and cannot serve on a grievance committee.
A hearing similar to trial will take place where the attorney will have the opportunity to provide a defense against the charges. Witnesses may be called either to attest to the attorney’s good character for mitigation, or to testify to the lawyer’s misconduct. The findings of the hearing are recorded and submitted to the LABD for review and a recommendation for discipline is determined. This recommendation is given to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which will determine culpability and discipline.
The Louisiana Supreme Court is in New Orleans and was established in 1813 as the highest court in the state, according to the court's website. It is presided over by seven justices: Chief Justice Bernette J. Johnson, Greg G. Guidry, Scott J. Crichton, James T. Genovese, Marcus R. Clark, Jefferson D. Hughes III, and John L. Weimer.