NEW ORLEANS (Louisiana Record) – New Iberia attorney Alicia Johnson Butler faces possible suspension following a recent Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB) recommendation to the state Supreme Court over a dispute that arose in her trust account.
In its 31-page recommendation filed Sept. 4, the LADB recommended Butler be suspended for one year followed by a year of probation. The LADB handed down its recommendation in an October 2015 complaint a former client filed with the office of disciplinary counsel alleging Butler settled the client's personal injury matter without her consent.
The LADB's recommendation follows a hearing committee's legal conclusions and its own recommendations filed in February over allegations that Butler failed to safeguard her client's property, act with reasonable diligence and promptness in paying her client and third parties and communicate properly with her client. The hearing committee recommended Butler be suspended for one year followed by a year of probation, that her trust account be audited and that she be required to attend ethics school. The hearing committee specifically recommended against disbarring Butler.
Butler was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on April 20, 2000, according to her profile at the state bar's website.
The LADB adopted most of the hearing committee's factual findings and its recommendation about sanctions against Butler.
"(Butler) should have known that if she believed there was any impediment to disbursing some or all of the settlement proceeds they should remain deposited in her trust account or failing that deposited in the registry of the court pending a judicial division of the funds," the LADB recommendation said. "Short of litigation or an amicable negotiation resolving the dispute, (Butler) should have known she could have urged the matter be resolved through the Louisiana State Bar Association's Lawyer Fee Dispute Resolution Program."
In a previous discipline, the Louisiana Supreme Court handed down a fully deferred six months suspension against Butler in January 2014. That discipline followed allegations that Butler failed to promptly notify a third party of funds in which that third party had an interest, keep those funds separate from her personal funds and misinformed a federal court about the reimbursement amount owed to her after a client's case had been settled.