Lafayette attorney disbarred - but not permanently - in split Supreme Court decision

By Karen Kidd | Dec 6, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (Louisiana Record) — Suspended Lafayette attorney Michael Sean Reid has been disbarred following a split Dec. 5 Louisiana Supreme Court attorney disciplinary proceeding regarding multiple allegations, including abandoning his practice and trust fund irregularities.

"Reid has intentionally violated duties owed to his clients and the legal profession, " read the Supreme Court's 19-page attorney disciplinary proceeding. "His conduct caused actual harm to his clients. The baseline sanction for this type of misconduct is disbarment."

The high court's justices split over whether that disbarment should be permanent. Justice Scott J. Crichton and Justice Marcus R. Clark dissented, saying they would have permanently disbarred Reid.

The majority voted to disbar Reid retroactive to his interim suspension in December 2016, in addition to ordering him to provide accountings and make restitution to his clients and pay all costs in the matter.  

Reid was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on Oct. 5, 2001, according to his profile at the Louisiana State Bar Association's website. 

In May, the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB) recommended Reid be disbarred but not permanently.

The LADB noted Reid's prior discipline-free 15 years and Reid's "assertion that he was dealing with depression, anxiety and related physical impairments at the time of his misconduct," the Supreme Court's attorney disciplinary proceeding said. "Although the record lacks clear medical evidence, the questions raised as to [Reid]'s mental and physical health convinced the board [Reid] should not be permanently disbarred."

The LADB also concluded that disbarment, as opposed to permanent disbarment "will adequately protect the public while not unduly punishing respondent," the disciplinary proceeding said.

The office of disciplinary counsel objected to the LADB's recommendation

In his dissent, Crichton referred to Reid's eight abandoned clients and the general lack of mitigating factors in the proceeding against him. The justice said permanent disbarment would be appropriate.

"Furthermore, his lack of cooperation with ODC, the hearing committee, disciplinary board and this court demonstrates his stunning indifference to this noble profession," Crichton wrote in his dissent. "As the hearing committee found, this conduct falls within Guideline 1 of the permanent disbarment guidelines and, after considering the evidence in this case, I would impose a sanction accordingly."

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Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board Louisiana State Bar Association Louisiana Supreme Court

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