Romero hearing set before state Supreme Court

The Louisiana Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing for September on potential disciplinary action against New Iberia attorney Shane Romero.

According to the court’s docket, Romero and his attorney Dane Ciolino are scheduled to present arguments to the court on Sept. 9 before Judge Pro Tempore James Boddie Jr.

The hearing before the court is the penultimate step in the state’s attorney disciplinary process. Counsel for the state Charles Bennett Plattsmeier and Robert S. Kennedy Jr. will have 20 minutes to present the state’s case. Ciolino will have 20 minutes to present his defense arguments.

The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board recommended in March that Romero should be suspended from practicing law for one year as punishment for actions he took during his campaign for a city judgeship in 2014.

The charges against Romero stem from a campaign flyer he had printed while running for the New Iberia City Judge seat against Trey Haik. Romero admitted that he subsequently lied to investigators from the state’s Board of Ethics about who paid for the flyers. He also admitted to attempting to have Paul Camacho, who Romero gave money to pay for the flyers, sign a false affidavit saying that Camacho had actually used his own money to pay for the printing.

Camacho later wore a wire for investigators while Romero attempted to get him to take the blame for the flyers.

In a separate proceeding, Romero pleaded guilty in November 2016 to a single misdemeanor count of violating state campaign finance law. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed its charges against Romero in October 2018.

At a LADB Hearing Committee meeting in April 2019, Kennedy had initially recommended a two-year suspension of Romero’s law license, but the hearing committee recommended Romero be suspended for one year, with three months deferred. Kennedy said the more onerous activity was in trying to cover up the relatively minor state campaign finance crime.

Ciolino said during the subsequent Disciplinary Committee hearing that even the lighter sanction the hearing committee recommended was too strict, using the 2008 case of U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond as a baseline.

Richmond had filed a notice stating that he lived within a city council district in New Orleans when the board determined he did not. Although the Disciplinary Committee agreed that the Richmond case was relevant, it also wrote that Romero’s actions went beyond Richmond’s.

According to the Disciplinary Committee’s report, Romero violated several rules of professional conduct, including falsifying evidence or counsel or assisting a witness to testify falsely, violating or attempting to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, commission of a criminal act, and engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.

In Louisiana, disciplinary action against attorneys through the LADB starts with a complaint, which is investigated. Then, if grounds for the complaint are found, it is sent to a Hearing Committee and a Disciplinary Committee for hearings. That committee issues the final recommendation to the Supreme Court, after which the court issues a decision on any sanctions.

Dwayne Fatherree is the community editor for The Daily Iberian. He can be reached at dwayne.fatherree@daily-iberian.com.

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