In the Matter of Joel D. Landry, II.
Petitioner: Joel D. Landry, II, Pro Se
Respondent: David D. Curtin Chief Disciplinary Counsel
Suttell, C.J. Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.
matter is before the Court pursuant to a petition for
reinstatement filed by Joel D. Landry, II, in accordance with
the provisions of Article III, Rule 16 of the Supreme Court
Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. On January 10, 2003, while
facing formal disciplinary charges alleging serious financial
mismanagement of his law firm client account, the petitioner
submitted an affidavit to this Court acknowledging that he
would not contest the allegations, freely admitting that he
had diverted client funds for an improper purpose, and
voluntarily consenting to his disbarment from the practice of
law in this state. We accepted his affidavit, and on February
14, 2003, we entered an order disbarring petitioner from the
practice of law.
November 21, 2017, petitioner filed his petition for
reinstatement. Disciplinary counsel conducted an
investigation into the petition and filed his report with us
on May 25, 2018. We directed petitioner to appear before this
Court at its conference on June 6, 2018. Having reviewed the
petition for reinstatement, the report of Disciplinary
Counsel, and hearing the representations of petitioner, his
counsel, and Disciplinary Counsel, we grant the petition,
subject to conditions of supervision as set forth below.
petitioner was admitted to the practice of law in this state
in 1989. During his legal career, petitioner served as a
Special Assistant Attorney General, an Assistant City
Solicitor and was engaged in the private practice of law.
Prior to 2002, petitioner was not the subject of any
allegations of professional misconduct. However, beginning at
approximately that time, petitioner engaged in conduct that
led to his disbarment.
petitioner practiced law in a partnership with another
attorney that he met while the two were in law school. The
petitioner concentrated his practice in the area of
representing plaintiffs with personal injury claims. His
partner practiced in the area of criminal defense. The
petitioner maintained the law firm accounts and managed the
practice. His partner relied on petitioner to run the office
and pay the costs of maintaining the practice. They would
then share in the income of the law firm.
the practice was not generating sufficient income to cover
all of the office expenses and compensate the employees,
petitioner, and his partner. The petitioner did not advise
his partner that the practice was not as successful as it
appeared to be. Rather, in order to pay office expenses, his
partner, and himself, petitioner began to divert funds held
in the law firm client account that had been earmarked to pay
the medical bills of personal injury clients.
only a matter of time before the medical providers noticed
they were not being paid. The petitioner's partner first
became aware of petitioner's misconduct when the medical
providers began contacting the office inquiring about their
payments. The petitioner abruptly left the practice, and only
then did he disclose what he had done to his partner.
of the medical providers filed complaints with the
Disciplinary Board alleging that petitioner had withheld
funds from clients' settlements earmarked for medical
bills but had not forwarded payment to the medical providers.
The petitioner fully cooperated with the disciplinary
investigation, and, as noted above, he voluntarily consented
to disbarment. Petitioner waited for a period in excess of
fourteen years before applying for reinstatement.
(c) of Rule 16 provides, in part, that a petition for
reinstatement, the petitioner bears the burden of
demonstrating to this Court, by clear and convincing
evidence, that he "has the moral qualifications,
competency and learning in law required for admission to
practice law in this State and that his ***resumption of the
practice of law within the State will be neither detrimental
to the integrity and standing of the Bar or the
administration of justice nor subversive of the public
interest." Disciplinary Counsel has advised this Court
that he has uncovered no evidence of any conduct by
petitioner during the fifteen years he has been disbarred
that raises a question as to his present moral fitness.
Petitioner has been self-employed, performing title
examinations for other attorneys; all attest that his work
has been exemplary. Numerous attorneys have submitted letters
to this Court attesting to petitioner's character and
recommending his reinstatement. Petitioner has been actively
involved in his community, coaching youth baseball and
the nature of petitioner's past misconduct is of great
concern to this Court. The petitioner diverted in excess of
$400, 000 of client funds in his misguided effort to keep the
law firm solvent. When he abruptly left the practice,
petitioner's now-former partner was saddled with those
unpaid bills. Fortunately for the clients, the partner was
able to resolve or compromise these outstanding debts on the
clients' behalf by paying them out of his own funds. We
note that petitioner's former partner has neither
supported nor objected to this petition.
Counsel has recommended to us that, should the petition be
granted, petitioner should be placed under strict
supervision. We agree. The petitioner advises that he intends
to practice in three areas of the law: personal injury,
real-estate conveyancing, and tax-title cases. Three members
of the bar with extensive experience in those areas have
agreed to supervise petitioner's practice, and
Disciplinary Counsel has also recommended that
petitioner's financial records be submitted to the Office
of Disciplinary Counsel on a regular basis for review. We
believe that, with strict supervision in effect, petitioner
can return to the productive practice of law in this state.
we hereby grant the petition for reinstatement, subject to