On Tuesday, December 19, 2023, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Board on Professional Responsibility issued a report and recommendation in the matter of James A. Moody, an administratively suspended member of the Bar of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The report and recommendation were made by a hearing committee, which found that Moody had violated several rules of professional conduct and recommended that he be disbarred.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of James A. Moody,” with case no. 23-BD-022.

The charges cited DC Rules of Professional Conduct Rules 1.5(b), 1.15(a), (c), and (d), 8.1(b), and 8.4(c) and (d).

According to documents filed with the District of Columbia Attorney-Client Arbitration Board (ACAB), Moody represented Lion Farms in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture starting in 2015. The lawsuit claimed that the government unlawfully took a portion of raisins produced by Lion Farms for a national reserve pool. In 2019, the case settled for $7.6 million to be paid to Lion Farms.

However, the documents allege that on November 22, 2019, without informing Lion Farms, Moody had already received the settlement funds. Over the next two years, Moody allegedly misappropriated over $600,000 of the settlement money for his personal use without Lion Farms’ knowledge or consent.

It was not until July 2020 that Lion Farms discovered that Moody already had their settlement funds. After repeated inquiries went unanswered, Moody finally issued a check to Lion Farms for over $5 million on July 20, 2020, but did not provide any information about the terms of the settlement or accounting for the missing funds.

Lion Farms retained Daniel Schumack in November 2021 to recover the remaining money. Schumack reached out to Moody multiple times by letter, email, and through process servers requesting repayment. However, Moody never responded to any of the communications. As a result, Schumack filed an arbitration claim against Moody with the ACAB on January 3rd, 2022.

Documents filed with the ACAB show that between December 2019 and December 2021, Moody allegedly transferred over $430,000 of Lion Farms’ money to his personal bank account without permission. He is also accused of continuing to access the funds during the arbitration proceedings, transferring another $20,000 in March and June 2022.

A hearing was held on July 27, 2022, but Moody did not file a response or attend. The arbitration panel has not yet issued a ruling. Moody currently faces allegations that he violated numerous Rules of Professional Conduct and could be disbarred if found responsible. Lion Farms is seeking approximately $1.5 million in remaining settlement funds from Moody.

The report and recommendation will now be reviewed by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which will make a final determination on Moody’s disciplinary status.

The recommendation states:

“For the foregoing reasons, the Committee finds that Respondent violated Rules 1.5(b), 1.15(a), (c), and (d), 8.1(b), and 8.4(c) and (d) and D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 2(b)(3) and should be disbarred. We further recommend that Respondent’s attention be directed to the requirements of D.C. Bar R. XI, § 14, and their effect on eligibility for reinstatement.”

According to the court filing, Mr, Moody acquired his law license in the District of Columbia in 1979.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.