The Louisiana Supreme Court has permanently disbarred Peter Brian Derouen, a Lafayette attorney.
Derouen's license has been permanently revoked, and he is barred from being admitted to the practice of law in Louisiana ever again. He's been ordered to make restitution to his clients and to pay back fees he collected from clients he took on while he was suspended from practicing law.
Back in 2017, the court had disbarred Derouen after finding that he neglected and mishandled the funds from a client's medical malpractice case and mishandled another client's settlement between 2014 and 2017.
Derouen also was suspended prior to the disbarment because he failed to follow the rules about continuing education and bar fees, the complaint against him alleges. While he was suspended, he filed a divorce petition for a client, and appeared in court several times - even though he knew he wasn't eligible to practice law.
The complaint also alleges that several of Derouen's clients filed complaints against him, but he failed to respond.
In the case of the settlement funds, the court determined that Derouen's client endorsed the checks and signed the disbursement agreement, but never got her money.
"By failing to disburse the settlement funds, respondent has effectively stolen or converted the monies due to (the client). This conduct is dishonest, deceitful, and criminal, reflects adversely on respondent’s honesty, trustworthiness and fitness as a lawyer, and is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rules..." the court states.
Derouen also took cases when he wasn't eligible to practice law, mishandled clients' cases and took their money without providing the service he promised, the court states.
"The board determined that respondent knowingly and intentionally violated duties owed to his clients, the legal system, and the legal profession," the ruling states.
To read the ruling, click here.