Baton Rouge attorney Mark G. Simmons has been suspended for 60 days following an Oct. 16 Louisiana Supreme Court disciplinary proceeding over allegations of multiple offenses in a single client matter.
Simmons was suspended for a year and a day with all but 60 days deferred, followed by two years of supervised probation, according to the high court's nine-page disciplinary proceeding. Simmons also was ordered to pay costs and expenses, according to the disciplinary proceeding.
A state bar hearing committee found Simmons commingled his own funds with his clients’ fund and did not cooperate with a state bar investigation but did not find that he had converted client funds, according to the disciplinary proceeding.
Simmons was alleged to have violated professional conduct rules, including failing to safe keep property, communicate with a client, and cooperate with a state bar investigation, according to the disciplinary proceeding.
Simmons was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on April 27, 1990, according to his profile at the Louisiana State Bar's website. Simmons had no other discipline before the state bar, according to the disciplinary proceeding.
Allegations against Simmons stemmed from a case in which his client hired him in April 2010 to represent her in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim against the Lafayette Parish School System. After Nov. 16, 2011, Simmons "took no meaningful action regarding the matter" and failed to respond to his client's efforts to reach him via email, telephone, text message, and letter seeking a status update, according to the disciplinary proceeding.
The state bar's office of disciplinary counsel (ODC) began its investigation after receiving a notice that Simmons' client trust account was overdrawn Sept. 6, 2012, according to the disciplinary proceeding. Simmons failed to respond to an ODC request for explanation and for records related to the account, according to the proceeding.
In April 2013, the client filed a complaint against Simmons with the ODC, according to the disciplinary proceeding, and Simmons did not respond to the complaint and did not appear to give a sworn statement, despite receiving the complaint and a subpoena to do so.
In November 2014, the ODC filed formal charges against Simmons, who did respond, and a formal hearing was conducted this past May.