On Tuesday, November 8, 2022, the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel ruled on charges of attorney discipline against Baton Rogue attorney Michael T. Bell alleging misconduct.
The case is entitled “In the matter of Michael Treiman Bell” and was brought by The Supreme Court of Louisiana. Case #2022-B-01331.
The charges cited rules of professional conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.15, 5.5(a), 8.1(c), 8.4(c), and 8.4(d) which states:
A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.
Consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the lawyer’s conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.
A lawyer shall hold property of clients or third persons that is in a lawyer’s possession in connection with a representation separate from the lawyer’s own property
A lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction or assist another in doing so.
Fail to cooperate with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in its investigation of any matter before it except for an openly expressed claim of a constitutional privilege.
Dishonesty, Fraud, Deceit, or Misrepresentation. Professional “misconduct” includes conduct “involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation,” even if the conduct is not criminal in nature.
Engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice
The rules of professional conduct can be found here.
The following are as alleged and summarized from the filing:
This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) against the respondent, Michael T. Bell, a disbarred attorney. Prior to the current matter, these are the respondent’s prior disciplinary history.
In 2013, the court accepted a petition for consent discipline in which the respondent stipulated he had failed to communicate with a client and failed to properly terminate a client’s representation. For this misconduct, the respondent was suspended from the practice of law for one year and one day, with all but one year deferred.
In 2016, the Court accepted another petition for consent discipline in which the respondent stipulated he had engaged in conduct constituting a conflict of interest. For this misconduct, the respondent was publicly reprimanded.
In 2019, the Court considered a formal charge matter in which the respondent was found to have settled a case without his client’s authorization, charged interest on money he had loaned to the client, converted client funds, failed to cooperate with the ODC 1 1 /0 8/22 2 in its investigation, and provided false statements to the ODC. For this misconduct, the court imposed disbarment and ordered the respondent to make full restitution.
Despite the disbarment, the respondent represented some clients.
The filing states:
‘On February 14, 2020, the ODC received a disciplinary complaint regarding the respondent’s appearance from 23 rd Judicial District Attorney Ricky Babin and Mr. Koenig. The ODC personally served the respondent with notice of the complaint on June 4, 2020.’
The filing continues:
‘In January 2019, Anthony Myles hired a respondent to represent him in a DWI case. Over time, Mr. Myles paid the respondent $2,100 of the $2,500 fixed fee. On February 18, 2019, the respondent obtained a temporary driving permit for Mr. Myles. 3 Thereafter, the DWI case was continued several times without resolution. The temporary driving permit expired on November 18, 2019, prior to the respondent resolving the DWI case. Additionally, upon the response, he did not inform Mr. Myles that he was disbarred and did not refund the unearned portion of the fee.’
The filing further alleges:
‘In May 2018, Judy Johnson hired a respondent to represent her daughter, Julita Jackson, in a custody matter. Ms. Johnson paid the respondent $2,500 for the representation. Respondent represented Ms. Jackson at a hearing on May 8, 2018. Thereafter, the respondent failed to communicate with Ms. Johnson or Ms. Jackson and failed to move the matter forward. Ultimately, Ms. Johnson had to obtain new counsel to handle the matter. Ms. Jackson also hired a respondent to handle a claim against the Belleville Police Department in Illinois. However, the respondent is not licensed to practice law in Illinois and took no action in the matter. When the respondent was disbarred in Bell I, he failed to inform Ms. Johnson and Ms. Jackson and failed to refund the unearned portion of the fee.’
According to the court, the Respondent’s conduct, combined with that involved in his prior disciplinary matters, indicates that he lacks the moral fitness to practice law and is a threat to his clients, the legal profession, and the public. Recognizing that the respondent is already disbarred, the court extended the minimum period for readmission.
The Disposition states:
“Upon review of the findings and recommendations of the hearing committee and disciplinary board, and considering the record, it is ordered that Michael T. Bell, Louisiana Bar Roll number 27740, be and he hereby is prohibited from petitioning this court for readmission pursuant to Supreme Court Rule XIX, § 24(A) until five years have passed from the finality of this judgment.”
His info can be found on Linkedin. He attended Southern Univesity Law Center Bell. Prior to the suspension, he practices in Baton Rogue, Louisiana. He has been licensed in Louisiana, license #27740.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.