22 August 2008

local media rakes john sharp over the coals

we noticed that the gannett/town talk and kalb are making a big deal over some trouble baton rouge, attorney john sharp got himself into. mr. sharp was one of the attorneys representing the city of alexandria in its longtime, ongoing and fabled fraud suit against cleco. see the town talk 'attorney for alexandria in cleco litigation accused of misconduct in another case' and kalb.com 'lawyer removed from cleco case.'

however, if you read the fifteen page .pdf of the louisiana attorney disciplinary board, hearing committee#1 report and recommendation, in re: john m. sharp, which is the document that the town talk and kalb are basing their stories off of, you will see that all the complaint boils down to is lawyers stealing from lawyers. so what.

nowhere in the document does it say or suggest that mr. sharp's clients were harmed by him and his actions and thats all that matters. actually, mr. sharp did what his clients asked: "mr. brady asked mr. sharp if he and his family could retain the entirety of the settlement proceeds and pay the firm its fees and expenses owed over some loosely defined period of time. mr. sharp agreed..." [.pdf page 3] that would seem to be a pretty risky agreement to enter into. the ladb notes that: "it is crystal clear that the entire $150,000.00, including the firms earned fees and costs, was turned over to the brady's." [.pdf page 4] now thats our kind of lawyer. and this is really what mr. sharp's fellow members of the bar are pissed over.

if you notice the ladb never really says why mr. sharp did what he did. oh sure, they have a lot of pages in which they discuss mr. sharp's attention deficit disorder(ADD/ADHD). all this is, is an attempt an shift the blame and to make mr. sharp appear crazy. the ladb mentions that mr. sharp said that he did it because of "greed and arrogance," but thats no explanation

"other witnesses [namely his former partners: dupuy, colvin, weaver, cerniglia and davis] each of them spoke quite well of sharp and all appeared to look up to him as a professional. the testimony reveals that during the relevant time, he met deadlines, worked a rigorous schedule in a very detail oriented and complicated area of law, and generally comported himself very well as an attorney." [.pdf page 10]

if you notice mr. sharp's name came first on the firm's letterhead and he was the managing partner. so for all we know, this could have been nothing more than a mole hill, that mr. sharp's partners made into a mountain in order to get rid of him so they could take over his client list.

perhaps, the real reason was because mr. sharp though that his firm was overbilling its clients - we know that in some law firms that certainly goes on. so we suspect that there is a whole lot more going on here than what the ladb would have us believe.

however, the 'crystal clear' message that the ladb is sending out is: lawyers dont steal from other lawyers or else you will be disbarred and made to appear crazy.

whilst we were over on the labd website we happened to notice another case from 06 june 2008: in re: darrel d. ryland [nine page .pdf]. mr. ryland is a marksville, (avoyelles parish) la. attorney and president of union bank. [.pdf] this action received scant local media attention.

heres a case where a lawyer was literally screwing his client and the louisiana state supreme court merely suspended mr. ryland from the practice of law for ninety days and deferred that -- subject to mr. ryland's successful completion of the additional hours of continuing legal education