Lawyer disbarred for instances of using racially charged language

By Olivia Olsen | Apr 3, 2017

BATON ROUGE — Attorney Ashton R. O’Dwyer Jr recently had his license to practice law in Louisiana revoked by the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board.

The decision was made in a March 15 ruling after an investigation into O’Dwyer’s behavior and interactions with opposing counsel was completed.

O’Dwyer’s issues date back to shortly after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when he was one of the first attorneys to file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of hurricane victims. The case was presided over by Judge Stanwood Duval. The attorney allegedly sent several communications to the judge and other counsel that included inappropriate language and name-calling. O’Dwyer was accused of several counts of misconduct including failing to inform clients of their cases’ status, filing a suit without a factual basis, and “engaging in conduct meant to disrupt a tribunal,” according to court documents.

O’Dwyer was suspended from law for five years.

Court documents stated that the attorney responded to the conditions of his suspension and probation by informing “the en banc federal court that it 'may as well disbar him, forever, because he has no intention of ever complying’ with the requirements of the suspension order.”

In two other matters brought against O’Dwyer, the attorney allegedly sent various emails where he “used racial slurs, obscenities, and other unprofessional and discourteous language.” On July 15, 2009, O’Dwyer submitted court documents that contained offensive and racially charged language. The motion was signed by the attorney’s cousin, but he later admitted that he had written the document himself.

Permanent disbarment was recommended by the disciplinary counsel and was handed down by the LABD because of the numerous claims of misconduct against the attorney. O’Dwyer will not be eligible to reapply for admission to the Louisiana State Bar at any time in the future, according to the decree in court documents.

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