Louisiana Record

Sunday, February 23, 2020

LADB hearing committee splits over suspension recommendation for Baton Rouge attorney


By Karen Kidd | Dec 19, 2019

Hammer gavel

NEW ORLEANS (Louisiana Record) — Longtime Baton Rouge attorney Otha Curtis Nelson Sr. faces a possible suspension following a recent recommendation by a split Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB) hearing committee over allegations stemming from client divorce proceedings.

In its 10-page recommendation issued Dec. 11, LADB hearing committee No. 1 recommended Nelson be suspended for a year and a day.

Nelson allegedly violated professional conduct rules regarding failures to act with reasonable diligence, keep his client reasonably informed and respond to repeated requests for information, according to the recommendation. The majority of the three-member committee also recommended Nelson be ordered to pay all costs and expenses.

The recommendation was signed Dec. 5 by committee chair H. Price Mounger and issued six days later.

Public member Vallan B. Corbett concurred with the recommendation but attorney member Johnathan D. Blake disagreed, saying he would recommend that Nelson receive only a public reprimand.

Nelson was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on Sept. 21, 1972, according to his profile at the Louisiana State Bar Association's website.

Allegations against Nelson stem from two divorce cases, one in 2011 and the other 2017. 

Ethical complaints were filed in the older divorce case after Nelson filed motions to recuse judges in the case in 2011, alleging political relationships with the opposing counsel, according to the recommendation. The motions were denied. The following year Nelson filed a motion for recusal of "all judges on the First Circuit Court of Appeal," the recommendation said.

That motion also was denied.

"The filing of these numerous motions by [Nelson] not only delayed the proceedings he was involved in but created a burden on his opposing counsel and upon each of the courts that had to entertain the motions and rule on same, resulting in actual harm," the recommendation said.

In a previous discipline, Nelson was suspended three years, with all but one year deferred, in May 2014 over allegations involving his trust account, according to the recommendation. In that disciplinary matter, Nelson was alleged, among other matters, to have mishandled his client trust account, which resulted in commingling and conversion, to have collected an excessive fee and failed to seek approval of his attorney fees in a workers' compensation matter.

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Organizations in this Story

Louisiana State Bar AssociationLouisiana Attorney Disciplinary BoardLouisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal

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