On December 27, 2023, the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct suspended attorney William M. Howard for twelve months and imposed a separate sanction of reprimand in response to formal charges of misconduct, according to an order filed on January 23, 2024.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of William McNova Howard,” with case no. CPC-2023-025.

Howard represented Deric Smith in a criminal case, where Smith was convicted of Capital Murder and Battery in the First Degree, receiving a life sentence without parole. Subsequently, Howard faced allegations related to the mishandling of Smith’s appeal.

The formal charges outlined a series of lapses in Howard’s representation. After filing a Notice of Appeal on March 12, 2022, Howard obtained extensions for the submission of records and transcripts. However, he failed to lodge the record on time and later struggled with electronic filing. Despite obtaining multiple extensions, Howard did not file a brief within the stipulated time frame.

Smith filed pro se motions seeking to pursue his appeal. In response, the state of Arkansas filed a Motion to Dismiss the appeal. As of now, the court has yet to rule on the state’s motion. Notably, Howard’s conduct in this case echoed patterns of previous disciplinary sanctions for similar violations.

The Committee found Howard in violation of multiple rules of professional conduct, including Rule 1.1 (competence), Rule 1.3 (diligence and promptness), Rule 3.4(c) (disobeying tribunal obligations), and Rule 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).

Considering Howard’s prior disciplinary record, the Committee imposed a twelve-month suspension, along with a $150.00 fine. Additionally, Howard received a separate reprimand for failing to respond to the formal complaint. The costs were mandated to be paid within thirty days.

According to Avvo, Mr. Howard is an attorney in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He obtained his law license in Arkansas in 1987.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.