The Oklahoma Supreme Court has suspended for two years an Oklahoma City attorney who spent $48,000 of client’s money while the client was in prison. Lagailda F. Barnes could have faced disbarment, but the Supreme Court and Oklahoma Bar Association determined her admission of responsibility in the matter and her efforts to repay the money mitigated the gravity of her ethics violation.
Barnes had agreed in 2008 to hold $48,466 the client received in a probate matter until the client was released from prison. When the client was released in 2011, she admitted that she’d spent it. She made incremental payments of $1,000 then got a loan to repay the full amount with interest.
An attorney represented Barne’s former client at not cost to obtain repayment of the missappropriated funds. Barnes former client appeared at a Bar Association Professional Responsibility Tribunal hearing, where he was cordial to her and told the tribunal that Barnes and her husband were “good people.” A Bar Association investigator testified that Barnes had been cooperative during the investigation of the matter.
Read the full text of the Supreme Court opinion here: http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=468706