On Tuesday, August 8, 2023, the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board recommended the suspension of attorney Maxwell Peter Smitko. The charges stem from complaints filed against Smitko between 2019 and 2021 by former clients and the Lafourche Parish District Attorney’s Office.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Maxwell Peter Smitko,” with case no. 22-DB-026.

The charges cited Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1(a) (b) &(c),1.3, 1.4,1.5(f)(5), 5.5(a) & (e)(3), 8.1(b)& (c), 8.4(a) & (c). 

The first count involves a complaint filed in 2019 by Sarah Harris, who paid Smitko $1000 to represent her son in a criminal case. Smitko withdrew from the case due to a conflict of interest but never refunded any of Harris’s payments. Despite multiple requests from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Smitko failed to provide documentation showing he refunded Harris.

In the second count, the District Attorney’s Office filed complaints accusing Smitko of practicing law while ineligible in September 2019. Smitko had failed to pay his bar dues and registration fees, rendering him ineligible, but he still represented clients in court on four occasions during that period.

Count three involves a complaint filed in 2020 by William and Tammy Brown, who paid Smitko $4000 plus $175 for a consultation to help get William Brown out of prison. Smitko failed to take any action on Brown’s behalf. Despite requests, Smitko also failed to provide his client file for Brown to the ODC.

Count four originates from a complaint by Drew Lagarde, who paid Smitko at least $1500 to represent him in a child custody case starting in 2019. Smitko never filed any documents for Lagarde and failed to keep him informed of the case’s status.

In count five, Cedric Scott complained that he paid Smitko $7000 to represent him in a criminal case, but Smitko failed to attend hearings and file anything on Scott’s behalf.

Counts six and seven involve additional clients, including one who paid Smitko $800 to obtain grandparent visitation, and another who paid $800 for legal services that were never provided. In most cases, Smitko failed to refund unearned fees. He is also accused of falsely holding himself out as eligible to practice law when he was not.

Smitko faces fines and suspension or disbarment if found guilty of violating various rules related to competence, diligence, communication, fees, unauthorized practice, and cooperation with disciplinary authorities.

The Conclusion states:

“In conclusion, the committee recommends the sanction of a 3-year suspension, restitution with interest to his former clients, and strict compliance with the current JLAP agreement. In addition, Mr. Smitko should be ordered to pay all costs and expenses associated with this proceeding. This opinion is unanimous and has been reviewed by each committee member, who fully concurs and who has authorized Kimberly Avery, to sign on their behalf.”

Mr. Smitko practices in Houma, Lousiana. He is licensed in Louisiana. His info can be found on martindale.com.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.