On Thursday, September 14, 2023, the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board recommended the disbarment of Attorney Melissa Michelle Ramsey Eldridge.
The case is titled ‘In the Matter of Melissa Michelle Ramsey Eldridge’ with case no. 23-DB-030.
Attorney Eldridge was charged with violations of Rules 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.15(a), 1.15(d), 1.16(d), 8.1(b), 8.1(c), 8.4(a), and 8.4(c) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
The Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.
This disciplinary matter consisting of five counts was filed on April 24, 2023, against Attorney Eldridge, alleging violations of various Rules of Professional Conduct, to which she failed to file an answer, leading to a motion filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) to deem the factual allegations admitted. The motion was granted, and the factual allegations were deemed admitted on June 15, 2023.
The formal charges include specific complaints from clients and instances where the respondent allegedly failed to respond or provide adequate legal services, intentionally failed to respond to the complaints, and knowingly ignored various client requests. The charges also involve matters such as mishandling custody and divorce cases, failure to refund fees, abandonment of the law office, failure to appear for statements, and failure to cooperate with the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel.
The committee took note of both the mitigating and aggravating factors. The aggravating factors easily tipped the scale, there being only one mitigating factor. Mitigating the case is the fact that Attorney Eldridge has had no previous discipline.
The Committee was convinced that the aggravating factors, including dishonest or selfish motives, a pattern of misconduct, multiple offenses, bad faith obstruction of the disciplinary proceeding by intentionally failing to comply with the rules of the disciplinary agency, refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of the conduct, the vulnerability of the victims, substantial experience in the practice of law, and indifference to making restitution, clearly indicate the serious harm Attorney Eldridge has caused her clients and the legal profession.
With these in consideration, the Committee recommends that Attorney Melissa Michelle Ramsey Eldridge be disbarred and ordered to pay restitution to her clients for unearned fees.
The recommendation reads:
“Given the facts deemed to be admitted, the corresponding exhibits, the submission of the ODC, and consideration of Rule XIX,§ 10C factors outlined above, particularly the fact that the aggravating factors substantially outweigh the mitigating factors, the serious nature of the rule violations, the repeated misconduct engaged in by the respondent, and the respondent’s complete lack of respect for the authority of the Louisiana Supreme Court, disbarment is the appropriate sanction to be imposed. In addition, the respondent should have to pay restitution to her clients and/or the Client Assistance Fund for unearned fees she has improperly converted to her own personal use and be assessed for the costs and expenses of the proceedings pursuant to Rule XIX, § 10.1.”
Attorney Melissa Michelle Ramsey Eldridge acquired her license in Louisiana in 1999. She is the owner of The Law Office of Melissa Ramsey Eldridge. More info on Ms. Eldridge can be found on avvo.com.
A copy of the original can be found here.