On Friday, December 9, 2022, the Supreme Court of Louisiana suspended New Orleans attorney Richard L. Root for 6 months for fraud. The case is entitled “In the matter of Richard L. Root”, and was brought by the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel with case no. 2022-B-00954.
The charges cited Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct 3.3(a)(1), 4.1(a), and 8.4(c) which state:
A lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer.
In the course of representing a client, a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person.
Engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.
The respondent was assigned a case in the firm where he needed to represent a client in the state of Illinois. Unfortunately, he isn’t admitted to the said state. Looking for a way, the respondent electronically signed the relevant documents in relation to the said case in Illinois in the name of his co-worker in the firm, who is licensed to practice in the state of Illinois, without the latter’s knowledge. The respondent used his co-worker’s bar number but listed his own telephone number and email address.
The filing states:
“The Certificate of Attorney is a representation by counsel that “There has been no previous Voluntary or Involuntary Dismissal of the subject matter of this litigation” and a certification of whether injunctive relief is sought. Respondent electronically signed the Affidavit and the Certificate of Attorney in the name of Mr. Lubecki and using Mr. Lubecki’s Illinois bar number, but listing his own telephone number and email address. It is likewise undisputed that Mr. Lubecki had no involvement in the preparation of the Affidavit or the Certificate of Attorney.”
The filing continues:
“On January 24, 2019, the respondent sent an email to Mr. Lubecki “containing the absolute truth” about the Illinois filing:
“Przemek, just a quick word to say how sorry I am that you have to spend one minute worrying about this. When we spoke in your office last week, I told you that there is no way that you are liable for anything negative that might arise from the Illinois filing, and what was clearly a non- meeting of the minds about your role. Again, that was my failure. It occurs to me that you [and I] do not know each other very well, which is unfortunate. And while I told you last week in your office that l’d be happy to put something in writing to verity_your lack of any culpability for any negatives arising from the suit, upon thinking about it, you might still be worried about your liability – or that I will try to pass any blame to you. I feel bad enough that you have to spend even one minute on this matter, and so I want to state this for the record today.”
After careful review, the disciplinary board determined that the factual findings of the hearing committee do not appear to be erroneous and are supported by the record. The board determined that the respondent knowingly violated duties owed to the legal system and the profession. Thus, the respondent should be suspended.
The Disposition states:
“Upon review of the findings and recommendations of the hearing committee and the disciplinary board, and considering the record, briefs, and oral argument, it is ordered that Richard L. Root, Louisiana Bar Roll number 19988, be and he hereby is suspended from the practice of law for a period of six months, with five months deferred. Any misconduct during the period of deferral may be grounds for making the deferred portion of the suspension executory, or imposing additional discipline, as appropriate. All costs and expenses in the matter are assessed against respondent in accordance with Supreme Court Rule XIX, $ 10.1, with legal interest to commence thirty days from the date of finality of this courtť’s judgment until paid.”
As of today, Mr. Loot is listed on the website of the law firm Morris Bart, LLC as a practicing attorney. His info can be found on Lawyer.com. Loot practices and is licensed in New Orleans, Louisiana.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.