|James Gray, New Orleans City Councilman, District E|
The board made its recommendation to suspend Gray to the Louisiana Supreme Court on Oct. 7 after finding that he had engaged in ethical misconduct.
Gray, a past president of the Louisiana Law Institute and a former LSU law professor, took office on the New Orleans City Council in 2013 after winning a runoff election for the District E seat in December 2012 against Louisiana State Rep. Austin Badon. By winning the election Gray was selected to replace former New Orleans City Councilman Jon Johnson who resigned after pleading guilty to corruption charges and being sentenced to six months in prison.
The charges that resulted in the recommendation of a suspension were first filed with the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board in August 2012 after an investigation by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) who found Gray continuously violated ethical standards by not providing proper representation to his clients on numerous occasions.
The first incident was in Gray’s 2004 representation of Gloria A. Frith in a medical malpractice claim. In that case, Gray admitted to the ODC that while he had spoken to Frith numerous times about the matter he did not take any action on her behalf. When Frith obtained a new attorney to represent her, Gray purportedly failed to provide her files on the case despite numerous requests that ultimately led to Firth filing a complaint with the ODC in March 2010.
The second incident goes back to 2003 when Gray was retained to represent Barbara Ann Roberts on a wrongful death claim. In 2008, Roberts said she met with Gray who ensured her he was still working on her case, but she later found out after the case was dismissed due to abandonment on May 5, 2010 that the last work Gray had done on it had been in 2007. Roberts filed a complaint with the ODC in 2010.
The third incident deals with an advanced payment of $18,750 for representation Gray allegedly received on Feb. 9, 2010 from Frederick Reed to represent him in in a criminal matter. After first filing a pro se motion on Feb. 5, 2010 to withdraw a guilty plea, Reed said he was visited by Gray at the Union Parish Detention Center. Reed stated that Gray assured him he would be representing him in the case going forward. After Reed was transferred to another prison in July 2010 he discovered that Gray had never enrolled as his counsel of record and was unable to provide an update on the withdrawn guilty plea. At this time Reed and Gray agreed to discontinue their professional relationship, however, Gray allegedly only returned $14,000 of the $18,750 he received to represent Reed in the case. As a result Reed filed a complaint with the ODC in 2011.
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New Orleans City Councilman accused of ethical misconduct; Discipline board recommends two-year suspension