NEW ORLEANS – Suspended Metairie attorney Arthur L. Harris Sr. faces possible permanent disbarment following a Feb. 6 recommendation by a Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB) hearing committee after he allegedly practiced law while ineligible.
"In sum, given [Harris'] ongoing failure to cooperate with the office of disciplinary counsel; disregard for defending the serious charges against him; neglect of client matters which caused substantial harm to the profession, legal system, and his clients; conversion of client funds; and willful attempts to collect money even after being suspended from the practice of law, it is the unanimous opinion of this committee that [Harris] be permanently disbarred," the 13-page recommendation issued by LADB Hearing Committee No. 49 said.
The committee also recommended the Louisiana Supreme Court order Harris to provide an accounting to his former client, to refund all unearned fees and pay all costs and expenses in the disciplinary proceedings against him.
The recommendation was signed Feb. 4 by committee chairman Matthew J. Glodowski and was issued two days later. Attorney James B. Letten and public member Thomas W. Young concurred in the recommendation.
Harris was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on May 18, 1971, according to his profile at the Louisiana State Bar Association's website.
Allegations against Harris stem from a complaint filed in June of last year by a former client, a Texas resident who hired Harris in 2018 to represent him in a criminal matter, and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel's subsequent investigation
While the client's criminal matter was pending, Harris' probation from a previous discipline was revoked in June 2018 and a year-and-a-day suspension was made executory, according to the recommendation. Harris did not file for rehearing and did not notify his client that he was ineligible to practice law, "and even more disconcerting, [Harris] continued to collect legal fees" from his client, the recommendation said.
Harris did not file an answer to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel's formal charges and in October the factual allegations were deemed admitted, according to the recommendation.
In an unrelated discipline, another LADB hearing committee recommend in March of last year that he receive additional suspension over consolidated formal charges against him at the time.
Harris did not file an answer to those charges, which were deemed admitted in September 2017.