NEW ORLEANS – New Iberia attorney Alicia Johnson Butler received a partially deferred suspension following a split Jan. 30 Louisiana Supreme Court attorney disciplinary proceeding over a dispute that arose in her trust account.
In its 18-page attorney disciplinary proceeding, the Supreme Court suspended Butler for a year and a day, with all but six months deferred, subject to successful completion two years probation. Butler's probation will begin from the date she and the office of disciplinary counsel execute a formal probation plan, proceeding filings said.
Butler's discipline stems from a complaint filed with the office of disciplinary counsel by a former client in October 2015 alleging Butler settled the client's personal injury matter without her consent. The office of disciplinary counsel subsequently alleged Butler failed to safeguard her client property, act with reasonable diligence and promptness in paying her client and third parties and communicate properly with her client.
The court recognized "some compelling mitigating factors" in Butler's case, including her 14 years as an indigent defender and that "a significant percentage of her practice" is in criminal defense, the disciplinary proceeding said.
"(Butler) has displayed a cooperative attitude throughout these proceedings," the disciplinary proceeding said. "She always evidenced an intent to protect her client's funds and make full restitution to her client. After some delay, (Butler), with the assistance of her counsel, made payment to her client’s satisfaction."
The court also ordered Butler to pay all costs and expenses in the matter.
Justice James T. Genovese dissented, saying he "would reject any deferral of suspension."
The court's action followed a Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board's recommendation in March and an LADB hearing committee's recommendation the month prior that Butler be suspended for one year followed by a year of probation. The hearing committee 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.