NEW ORLEANS (Louisiana Record) — Baton Rouge attorney Dante Jerome Butler has received additional but concurrent suspension following a Sept. 24 Louisiana Supreme Court attorney disciplinary proceeding and allegations he "mishandled his client trust account."
The latest suspension was voluntary, according to the high court's single-page attorney disciplinary proceeding. "Prior to the filing of formal charges, [Butler] and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel submitted a joint petition for consent discipline," the disciplinary proceeding said.
The court accepted the joint petition and suspended Butler for 18 months, with all but a year and a day deferred and made retroactive to May 8, 2019, the date of his previous suspension. The court also ordered Butler to pay costs and expenses.
Butler was admitted to the bar in Louisiana Oct. 20, 2011, according to his profile at the Louisiana State Bar Association's website.
The latest allegations against Butler involved his trust account, according to the disciplinary proceeding.
Butler allegedly "mishandled his client trust account and did not maintain adequate financial or client records, failed to submit an opposition to a motion for summary judgment and then concealed his neglect, and failed to diligently pursue discovery on his client's behalf," the proceeding said.
Butler has been on suspension since May over allegations he improperly shared legal fees earned by non-attorneys at a quasi-legal center in St. Tammany Parish. The Supreme Court suspended Butler for 18 months, with all but one year deferred, to be followed by a year of unsupervised, conditional probation.
The court's order in May followed a split Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board recommendation in November that Butler receive a fully deferred six-month suspension and that he be placed on a one-year of probation. An LADB hearing committee in February 2018 recommended Butler be suspended three years and be ordered to pay full restitution.
Allegations against Butler stemmed from his work at the Knowledge Center Temple in Slidell, which assists prisoners in post-conviction proceedings. He allegedly improperly shared legal fees earned by non-attorneys and proofread their work.
A former Knowledge Center Temple client filed a complaint against Butler in October 2016, and the office of disciplinary counsel filed formal charges against the attorney in May 2017.