NEW ORLEANS (Louisiana Record) — New Orleans attorney Tyrone F. Watkins faces possible suspension following a Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB) recommendation to the state Supreme Court after he allegedly failed to expedite litigation in a client's expungement case.
Watkins stipulated to professional conduct rules violations regarding communication, failing to return an unearned fee, improper termination of representation and failing to expedite litigation, according to the LADB's 15-page recommendation issued Aug. 9. Watkins did not but stipulate to a lack of diligence but the hearing committee assigned to his case found that he did violate that rule, according to the recommendation.
The LADB's recommendation follows a hearing committee's legal conclusions and its own recommendations filed in January. The hearing committee recommended Watkins receive a fully deferred and conditional three-month suspension, that he be placed on a year's probation and pay costs and expenses in the matter. The LADB, in its own recommendation, adopted the hearing committee's factual findings, conclusions regarding Watkins' alleged professional conduct rule violations and the hearing committee's recommended sanction.
Charges against Watkins stemmed from a complaint filed by a former client who hired him in August 2015 to represent him in expungement of four criminal convictions.
Watkins was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on April 20, 2001, according to his profile at the Louisiana State Bar Association's website. Watkins had no prior discipline before the state bar, according to the LADB's recommendation.
Watkins' former client filed a complaint with the office of disciplinary counsel in March 2017, according to the LADB's recommendation. In "a brief letter response to the charges on his own behalf" late the following September, Watkins "admitted that 'he dropped the ball'" and asked for an "opportunity to be heard on at least one of the alleged rule violations and on mitigation," the LADB's recommendation said.
Watkins "expressed believable remorse" during his hearing in December and that he "had been fully cooperative with the office of disciplinary counsel" was considered a mitigating factor in the case against him, as was an absence of dishonest or selfish motive, the LADB's recommendation said. Watkins violated duties that he owed to his client but his misconduct was "negligent", the recommendation said.