Lawyer is suspended after conviction for chest bumping a prosecutor
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A Louisiana lawyer has been suspended from law practice following a battery conviction for chest bumping a district attorney in a judge’s chambers.
The Supreme Court of Louisiana suspended lawyer Felix Anthony DeJean IV of Baton Rouge for a year and a day in a Jan. 30 opinion noted by the Legal Profession Blog. The length of the suspension means DeJean will have to formally apply for reinstatement.
The incident occurred in March 2015 at the conclusion of an in-chambers conference in a criminal case. District Attorney Bradley Burget had claimed DeJean exchanged words with him, physically confronted him and chest bumped him. DeJean claimed Burget instigated the altercation and he was acting in self-defense.
The incident led to a criminal charge of simple battery against DeJean and a finding of guilt in July 2016. Burget testified during the trial, along with several other witnesses: the judge, the judge’s assistant and the court reporter. DeJean received a suspended jail sentence along with 18 months of supervised probation that required him to complete an anger management program.
Before the criminal trial, Dejean had filed a civil suit for damages against Burget in connection with the incident. It is still pending, according to the state supreme court opinion.
DeJean violated ethics rules barring criminal acts that reflect adversely on a lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer, and barring conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, the court said.
A hearing committee had recommended a six-month suspension, while the disciplinary board had recommended the year-and-a-day suspension.
The state supreme court opted for the longer suspension, saying evidence supported the conclusion that it was DeJean who chest bumped Burget. While DeJean’s conduct “caused no actual physical harm, it did impair the public reputation of the profession and the judicial system,” the state supreme court said.
The court noted that the matter was the third time DeJean had been accused of violating ethics rules as a result of overly aggressive or physically abusive behavior.
In 2006, DeJean consented to a two-year legal discipline probation for physical alterations and behaviors caused by mental health issues and previous use of marijuana and alcohol. In 2013 he was publicly reprimanded for acting in an abusive and threatening manner to the opposing party during a settlement conference.
DeJean did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. He previously told the ABA Journal he’s innocent and it was Burget who accosted him. “I didn’t touch the guy,” DeJean said.