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The Mississippi Bar v. Mount

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

December 12, 2019

THE MISSISSIPPI BAR
v.
SEAN P. MOUNT

          ATTORNEY FOR COMPLAINANT: MELISSA SELMAN SCOTT

          ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT: ANDREW J. KILPATRICK, JR. KRISTEN J. SWEARENGEN

          CHAMBERLIN, JUSTICE

         ¶1. The Mississippi Bar filed a formal complaint against Sean P. Mount seeking reciprocal discipline after the Supreme Court of Louisiana suspended Mount from practicing law for one year and one day, with the entire suspension deferred. The Bar requests that this Court appropriately discipline Mount, but it does not recommend the imposition of any specific punishment.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Sean P. Mount is a resident of Louisiana and has been a member of the Louisiana Bar since 2001 and the Mississippi Bar since 2004. At approximately 1:30 a.m. on January 26, 2017, a New Orleans police officer observed Mount driving the wrong direction on a one-way street. The officer arrested Mount and charged him with operating a vehicle while intoxicated (first offense) and violating "La. Rev. Stat. § 32:72 (driving on roadway landed for traffic)." Mount pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor DWI offense on March 14, 2018.

         ¶3. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) for the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board opened an investigation into Mount's arrest and plea. Mount cooperated with the investigation and listed two prior DWI arrests that had occurred approximately eighteen and twenty-four years before. These arrests occurred before Mount became an attorney. As part of the investigation, Mount agreed to undergo a substance-use disorder evaluation and voluntarily entered into a two-year diagnostic-monitoring agreement with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP) on July 23, 2018. A report based on the evaluation classified Mount's intoxication the night of his arrest as "an isolated case of excessive drinking" and "did not recommend formal treatment." The evaluators did recommend that Mount be monitored for two years.

         ¶4. Before formal charges were filed, Mount and the ODC submitted a joint petition for consent discipline under Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XIX, Section 20. The parties stipulated that Mount had violated Rule 8.4(b) of the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct, which prohibits committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer.

         ¶5. On January 8, 2019, the Supreme Court of Louisiana accepted the joint petition and suspended Mount from the practice of law in Louisiana for a period of one year and one day, with the entire suspension deferred. Along with the suspension, the Supreme Court of Louisiana placed Mount on probation for a period that coincided with the term of his two-year JLAP diagnostic-monitoring agreement.

         ¶6. By order dated April 4, 2019, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana imposed the same discipline as the Supreme Court of Louisiana. The District Court imposed the suspension retroactively to the effective date of the Supreme Court of Louisiana's order.

         ¶7. On May 14, 2019, the Mississippi Bar filed a complaint against Mount seeking reciprocal discipline under Rule 13 of the Rules of Discipline for the Mississippi State Bar. The Bar requests that this Court appropriately discipline Mount and that Mount pay the costs and expenses of these proceedings.

         ¶8. Mount responded to the Mississippi Bar's complaint on June 5, 2019. Mount admitted each allegation and agreed that the Mississippi Bar is entitled to recover any costs and expenses associated with presenting this matter to the Court. In his response, Mount acknowledges that "the sanction imposed in this State generally mirrors the sanction imposed in the sister state, absent extraordinary circumstances which compel, justify or support variance from the foreign jurisdiction's sanction." (emphasis omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Miss. Bar v. Ishee, 987 So.2d 909, 911 (Miss. 2007)). Mount, however, requests that this Court retroactively impose a suspension of less than six months due to the differences between the reinstatement procedures of Mississippi and Louisiana. In addition to the mitigation factors considered by the Supreme Court of Louisiana in the joint petition, [1] Mount offers a number of mitigating factors to support his request for a shorter retroactive sanction.

         DISCUSSION

         ¶9. This Court possesses the exclusive and inherent jurisdiction over matters pertaining to attorney discipline. M.R.D. 1(a). This Court has jurisdiction over Mount for disciplinary purposes after proper service under Rule 16 of the Mississippi Rules of Discipline.[2] Under Rule 13(b) of the Mississippi Rules of Discipline, the decree of the Supreme Court of Louisiana "establish[es] conclusively the misconduct" of Mount.[3] M.R.D. 13(b). Therefore, "the sole issue before this ...


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