Hearing committee recommends dismissal of ethical violations allegations against Opelousas attorney

By Karen Kidd | May 2, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (Louisiana Record) — Ethical violations allegations against Opelousas attorney Anne E. Watson, practicing in Louisiana almost 33 years, should be dismissed, a Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB) hearing committee recently recommended.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel "failed to present clear and convincing evidence of any violation of the rules of professional conduct [by Watson]," said the 16-page recommendation issued by LADB Hearing Committee No. 19.

"The committee recommends that all formal charges against [Watson] be dismissed, with all taxable costs to be assigned to ODC," the recommendation said. The report was signed April 10 by committee chairman Brandon Wallace and was issued April 30.

Watson was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on Oct. 11, 1985, according to his profile at the Louisiana State Bar Association's website. Watson had no prior discipline before the state bar, according to the hearing committee's report.

The ODC had charged Watson with violating professional conduct rules, including those that govern conflict of interest, revealing a client's information without consent, diligence, reasonable communication and consultation with a client and representing clients directly adverse to each other.

Allegations against Watson arose from two complaints, which itself stemmed from a landlord/tenant dispute in 2013, received by the ODC in 2014. The committee conducted its hearing in March.

Charges against Watson filed by the ODC in one of the complaints was predicated upon Watson having been in an attorney-client relationship with the complainant. The committee found "that no such relationship existed" and recommended that charges in that complaint "be dismissed in its entirety," the committee's report said.

In the other complaint, the ODC had "relied entirely on the testimony" of the two people who had filed the separate complaints, "neither of whom the committee found to be of significant credibility," the hearing committee's recommendation said.

The committee found Watson had violated no professional conduct rules, recommended no sanctions and did not detail any aggravating or mitigating factors in the case. "The allegations in the formal charges filed against [Watson] read as a horror story of terrible attorney behavior," the hearing committee's report said.

"However, after more than seven hours of testimony and the presentation of binders full of documents, ODC has failed to offer any credible evidence supporting the allegations or showing any ethical breach by [Watson]."

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