Louisiana Record

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Board splits over suspension recommendation for longtime Baton Rouge attorney accused of forgery


By Karen Kidd | Aug 22, 2019

NEW ORLEANS (Louisiana Record) — Longtime Baton Rouge attorney Donald R. Dobbins faces possible suspension following a split Aug. 21 Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB) recommendation to the state Supreme Court over allegations stemming from five complaints.

In its 32-page recommendation, the LADB recommended Dobbins be suspended two years, with all but a year and a day deferred. LADB adjudicative committee member Linda G. Bizzarro dissented from the majority recommendation.

"Considering [Dobbins] pattern of misconduct and multiple offenses, which included the forgery of his client's signature, and misconduct which caused a client to lose custody of her child, I would vote that [Dobbins] be suspended for three years as recommended by the office of disciplinary counsel [ODC]," Bizzarro said in her dissent.

Dobbins was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on April 15, 1991, according to his profile at the Louisiana State Bar Association's website. Dobbins had no prior discipline before the state bar, according to the LADB's recommendation.

The LADB's recommendation follows a split hearing committee's legal conclusions and its own recommendation in August 2018 that Dobbins be suspended two years with a year and six months deferred. LADB hearing committee No. 27 public member James R. Mobley dissented from the majority on the three-person committee, saying he would have recommended Dobbins be suspended for two years, with one year deferred.

Two days later the office of disciplinary counsel objected, saying the recommended discipline was not enough.

"In its objection, ODC specifically objects to the committee's failure to find that the [Dobbins] forged his client's signature on the back of two settlement checks as detailed in Count V of the formal charges," the LADB's recommendation said. "ODC also argues that the sanction recommended by the hearing committee is too lenient."

Meanwhile, Dobbins in September 2018 filed his own objection to the hearing committee's findings, saying in part that the recommended sanction had been "too severe," the LADB recommendation said.

In October 2018, the ODC filed a pre-argument brief recommending Dobbins be suspended three years and that he be ordered to return all unearned fees and pay all costs and expenses of the disciplinary proceedings. In his own pre-argument brief filed later that month, Dobbins argued that a public reprimand would be "the more appropriate sanction," the LADB's recommendation said.

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Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board Louisiana State Bar Association Louisiana Supreme Court

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