On Monday, November 6, 2023, the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board Hearing Committee 37 recommended the dismissal of all formal charges brought against Attorney Jami D. Pellerin.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Jami D. Pellerin,” with case no. 23-DB-003.
The charges cited Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct Rules 1.3, 1.4(a)(3), 1.5(f)(5), 8.1(a)(c) which:
Requires an attorney to provide competent representation to a client.
Requires an attorney to keep a client informed about the status of their case.
Requires an attorney to refund any unearned fees to a client.
Requires an attorney to notify the court of any change in their address.
Prohibits an attorney from engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.
The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.
The charges are related to Pellerin’s representation of a client named Cody Cashat on March 29, 2021, who was facing criminal charges in various parishes. The charges alleged that Pellerin failed to communicate with Cashat, failed to refund unearned fees, and failed to update her address with the court. The charges also alleged that Pellerin did not terminate her representation of Cashat after being asked to do so and that she failed to enroll in certain cases.
In response, the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board recommended dismissing the charges against Pellerin due to a lack of clear and convincing evidence to support the allegations of misconduct. The Board found that the evidence presented by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) did not meet the required burden of proof to establish that Pellerin had violated the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct.
In particular, the Board noted that the evidence presented by the ODC was largely based on hearsay and unsubstantiated allegations and that there was no direct evidence to support the charges. The Board also found that many of the allegations were based on misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the facts and that Pellerin had provided a reasonable explanation for her actions.
For instance, as of the Board, the ODC did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent violated Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct when she did not appear at the July 17, 2021, court date in the Lafayette Parish matter. It was alleged that Pellerin had conflicts with cases in other jurisdictions and arranged with the DA and judge not to appear. However, the truth was that Mr. Cashat’s failure to appear led to a bench warrant for his arrest and not his attorney. Moreover, the board also found that in regard to the allegations, Pellerin did not complete Mr. Cashat’s representation as alleged, but did not terminate her representation; The unrefuted testimony shows that Pellerin’s representation was 90% complete, with a “best case scenario” plea deal in place, and only required Mr. Cashat’s presence in court to finalize the plea.
Furthermore, the Board took into account Pellerin’s unblemished record as an attorney and her reputation for honesty and integrity. The Board noted that Pellerin had cooperated fully with the disciplinary proceedings and had taken steps to address any potential issues in her practice.
In light of these factors, the Board determined that it would be inappropriate to impose discipline on Pellerin. The Board emphasized that its role is to protect the public and ensure that attorneys meet their ethical obligations, but that it also has a responsibility to ensure that attorneys are treated fairly and that any discipline imposed is proportionate to the misconduct alleged.
The recommendation states:
“Based on the testimony presented and documentary evidence admitted, the Committee finds the ODC did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent violated the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct. Accordingly, the Committee recommends that the formal charges be dismissed.”
According to avvo.com, Ms. Pellerin is a criminal defense attorney in Lafayette, Louisiana. She attended the Loyola University New Orleans, graduating in 2016. She acquired her law license in Louisiana in 2017.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.