NEW ORLEANS (Louisiana Record) — Lafayette attorney Chantelle M. Boutte faces disbarment following a split recommendation by the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB) to the state Supreme Court regarding allegations of violating rules of professional conduct in two client matters.
"Considering (Boutte's) conduct, the baseline sanction of disbarment and the multitude of aggravating factors, the board finds disbarment to be the appropriate discipline in this case," the LADB said May 31 in a 12-page recommendation.
The office of disciplinary council alleged Boutte violated rules of professional conduct, including those regarding scope of representation, diligence, communication, safekeeping property, termination of representation, failure to cooperate and dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
Melissa L. Theriot and Pamela W. Carter, members of the LADB adjudicative committee, dissented in the board's majority recommendation of disbarment. "A three-year suspension is more appropriate in this case, particularly since she (Boutte) had been practicing only two years at the time of the wrongful conduct," Theriot said in her one-sentence dissent, to which Carter, in her dissent, said she agreed.
Other members of the board – Linda G. Bizzarro, Brian D. Landry, Sheila E. O'Leary, Dominick Scandurro, Danna E. Schwab and Evans C. Spiceland Jr. – voted to recommend Boutte be disbarred.
Boutte has been ineligible to practice law in Louisiana since September 2016 for failing to pay state bar dues and a disciplinary assessment and to file a trust account disclosure, according to the LADB's recommendation.
Boutte was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on April 25, 2013, according to her profile on the Louisiana State Bar Association's website. Boutte had no prior discipline before the state bar, according to the LADB's recommendation, which said the attorney's absence of a prior disciplinary history was the only mitigating factor present in the state bar's proceedings against her.
"Several aggravating factors were present including a dishonest or selfish motive, a pattern of misconduct, multiple offenses, bad faith obstruction of the disciplinary proceeding by intentionally failing to comply with the rules or orders of the disciplinary agency, vulnerability of the victim, and substantial experience in the practice of law," the LADB recommendation said.
In October, an LADB hearing committee recommended Boutte be disbarred over allegations she failed to communicate with her clients, abandoned her practice and clients, converted client funds and failed to properly withdraw from her client's cases.