A “White Shoe” firm with smelly brown stuff on the soul: A Phelps Dumbar Conflict of Interest Update.

Short and sweet folks: Three cases and we’ve covered them all.

The suit the Parish filed against certain media outlets to clarify which grand jury documents the media would receive pursuant to media public records requests.  The decisions made with respect to the outcome of this litigation is a key precursor to Slabb O’Leaks where we periodically publish the emails of certain parish council members from around the general time frame when the insurance portion of the Jefferson Parish political corruption scandal broke. This suit deals with the public records law and the media outlets were defended by Phelps Dunbar.

The suit Anne Marie Vandenweghe filed against The Parish after the Parish denied her public records request for her email file folders. This suit is currently at the Louisiana 5th Circuit Court of Appeals after Judge Ross LaDart dispensed a bit of Gretna style justice in favor of  TheRiot and company. This suit deals with the public records law and the Parish is being defended by Phelps Dunbar.

Last but not least is TheRiot and the Parish suing the blogosphere last year, specifically mentioning yours truly in the suit. Leaving aside for the fact it is practically impossible to defame or liable a government under our system of law, the Parish was represented in this suit by Phelps Dunbar.

Rule 1.9. Duties to Former Clients

(a) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.

(b) A lawyer shall not knowingly represent a person in the same or a substantially related matter in which a firm with which the lawyer formerly was associated had previously represented a client

(1) whose interests are materially adverse to that person; and

(2) about whom the lawyer had acquired information protected by Rules 1.6 and 1.9(c) that is material to the matter; unless the former client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.

(c) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter or whose present or former firm has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter:

(1) use information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of the former client except as these Rules would permit or require with respect to a client, or when the information has become generally known; or

(2) reveal information relating to the representation except as these Rules would permit or require with respect to a client.

Now lets review:

Phelps Dunbar represented the media’s interest against the Parish helping insure the media outlets (and Waste Management) got everything the grand jury got.

Phelps Dunbar then turns around and defends the Parish in a public records request lawsuit taking a legal position that is certainly materially adverse to their former clients at the Times Picayune, Fox 8 and frankly every media outlet that avails itself of the public records requests process in Jefferson Parish.

Is there a problem here folks? Did the Nan and pals get conflict of interest waivers? Somehow I think not.

In Louisiana it is the ODC that enforces the rules of the road for lawyers and law firms and the head guy at ODC, Chuck Plattsmier has caught a certain amount of hell here on Slabbed through time.  According to some legal observers unfairly so in certain respects.  Being a curious soul I endeavored to find out more on the topic of how the ODC works and frankly I think the process needs changing. The biggest source of my angst is the secrecy that surrounds the proceedings and anyone that has read Slabbed through time knows we’re very big on transparency here.

Secrecy is a double-edged sword as the case of Roy Raspanti illustrates. Raspanti is a lawyer who had the misfortune of having a sister who is bat shit crazy with a vindictive streak to boot. It seemed that Sis would file frivolous bar complaints about brother Roy with Plattsmier’s office, evidently without telling Roy.  Fed up Roy then filed suit against his sister using the frivolous bar complaints as evidence.  Roy did to himself what his sister could not do, namely land himself in hot water with the ODC for using the information from the bar complaints in his civil suit against Sis.  It is a fascinating case and I hope the folks at West Law don’t get too cross with me for linking the Doc on the case. As a layman I read the case and feel bad for ol’ Roy but this is part of the reason we hate secrecy here on Slabbed.

I mention all this because it may well be that someone also noticed Phelps Dumbar representing both sides against the middle over in Jefferson Parish and dropped a dime on them to Plattsmier months ago. We wouldn’t know that under the current setup as the case has to be much further along in the process before anything is made public. As the Impeachment of Tom pOrteous illustrates, nobody at the ODC seems to get in a hurry about the business of enforcing legal ethics.


6 thoughts on “A “White Shoe” firm with smelly brown stuff on the soul: A Phelps Dumbar Conflict of Interest Update.”

  1. Great post. It amazes me how a big firm like Phelps Dunbar could miss such a blatant ethical conflict. They defend the media people in a declaratory lawsuit filed against the media by Jefferson Parish, then months later defend the same Jefferson Parish in Anne Marie Vandenweghe’s lawsuit seeking her emails, pursuant to a public records request. THAT SCREAMS CONFLICT OF INTEREST.

    Then, to add insult to injury, Phelps Dunbar represents the Parish of Jefferson in its ill-conceived blogosphere lawsuit. AGAIN, CAN YOU SAY CONFLICT OF INTEREST.

    Phelps Dunbar, you cannot represent a client against whom you had an adversarial position. That is a blatant violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and ODC should come down hard on these morons.

  2. If that is the case Sock then I’m prepared to spill my guts and disclose everything I know to the Slabbed Nation. The editorial team will huddle up tomorrow on this because there is a major news story buried in this post.


  3. Sop…I think it is also important to note that Phlips, Dungmore was also retained to represent Jefferson Parish during AMV’s travails with the JP Personal Board. The irony here is that Phlips, Dungmore, instead of performing the necessary due diligence ethically owed to it’s real client, the TAXPAYERS of JP, they proceed to file SLAPP tactics in hopes of continuing the cover-up.

    Now we know that the truthful allegations set forth in AMV’s Whistleblower Claims regarding the para-legal payroll fraud, the illegal political conduct of employees, the River Birch debacle, et al have all been substantiated by the La. Legislative Auditor, the FBI, the US Atty and now the Federal Grand Jury; but not the Parish of Jefferson… and why not? Phlips, Dungmore failed in it’s duty to properly identify it’s legal client, the TAXPAYERS of Jefferson Parish, and not a bunch of Political Thugs who hired them. Those people work for us, we pay the legal fees, not them. Phlips, Dugmore appropriated the same character trait as these thugs…stonewall and cover it up…kill the messenger, protect the wrong doers.

    As a result of the convoluted hearings held by an inept Personnel Board; a Human Resources Department held hostage to GretnaMentality in the name of Clem Donelon; an Administrative Tribunal conducted by an ethically challenged and incompetent Ted Nass; and a law firm, Phlips, Dungmore, that failed to thoroughly and fairly carry out the requisite due diligence investigation, AMV’s claims were ruled “moot”. Preposterous!… is all I can say on this subject at this moment.

    So I guess we can add Phlips, Dungmore’s incompetence in the above matter to the list for the ODC to review.

  4. And what does one expect from “Aunt Jemima” but a “pancake”? Seriously, all “conflicts of interest” are not created equal, and I would bet that PD has a “paper-trail” of conflict waivers and the like if ever they might need to produce them. I also would guess that The Parish Attorney’s Office also saw to it that their butts were covered in some fashion. Production is highly unlikely because PD have their noses W-AAA-Y up Plattsmier’s butt. Kim {deleted} Boyle was the {deleted} Louisiana State Bar Association President, and for being a good little {deleted}, who did what Kitty Kimball (Chief “Injustice” of the Louisiana Supreme Court) and Kimball’s “pimp” Plattsmier told her to do, she was awarded the representation of some Lemle & Kelleher partners who I sued in connection with my abduction, brutalization, torture and false imprisonment in the aftermath of KATRINA. In that litigation, Civil Action No. 06-7280, Boyle suborned perjury, falsified pleadings, obstructed justice and participated in the “cover-up” being directed by Kimball, Plattsmier and others. What’s “interesting” is that my case against some of the Lemle & Kelleher miscreants STILL LIVES. They are: Alan Goodman, Amy Baird and former Office Manager Dave Winn. It is my recollection that Boyle has appeared on their behalf, which I aver causes her an ethical dilemma. MARK MY WORD: I have not yet begun to fight! Ashton O’Dwyer.

    {edited heavily by Sop}

  5. The ODC is a joke. I have a copy of a complaint filed by someone. The complaint contained evidence of a phony accounting submitted to that corrupt bastard Judge Ross LaDart, as well as evidence of perjury, subordination of perjury, and other illegal actions. The evidence consisted of emails and a recorded phone conversation which didn’t quite match with the accounting submitted by a defendant who happens to be an attorney for Buddy Caldwell. Another coincidence, the corrupt bastard Judge LaDart admits he doesn’t know the law, and usually when he gets a case like this he hires counsel for the defense to instruct him on what to do, but he obviously can’t do that in this case. Then it turns out that the bastard Judge LaDart had the court transcripts altered to cover up some embarrassing statements he made at trial that could get him not only removed from the case, but removed from the bench. The ODC did not even give the complainant a chance to respond, they just denied it. The Judicial commission wouldn’t investigate the improper relationship between the corrupt bastard LaDart and the defense counsel either. The ODC and Judicial Commission are both jokes.

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