The National Law Journal by Leigh Jones - January 25, 2011
The Supreme Court of Louisiana has permanently disbarred an attorney for taking a minor into a jail and videotaping her having oral sex with clients being held there. The court revoked the law license of Noland James Hammond on Jan. 19 after it determined that he brought a 16-year-old girl with him to the Bunkie Detention Center in Avoyelles Parish, La., and taped her having sex with two inmate-clients. Hammond was charged with 24 counts of misconduct, including fondling an inmate, passing contraband to inmates and making sexual advances to inmates. "Respondent intentionally violated duties owed to clients, the public, the legal system, and the profession, causing significant harm," the court wrote. "Under the circumstances, disbarment is clearly appropriate." According to a hearing committee report, Hammond visited two inmates in October 2003 at the detention center and told them that he believed they had been wrongfully convicted. One inmate had been convicted of aggravated battery and another of rape. Both crimes involved sexual contact with a female victim. Hammond told them that he thought he could get their convictions reversed but that he needed to obtain semen samples to do so, the report found. The next day, Hammond returned to the jail with a 16-year-old girl whom he identified as his assistant. Hammond got permission under the pretense of requiring an attorney-client contact visit to meet in a private office. Once the four were alone, the girl performed oral sex on the inmates while Hammond videotaped the encounter, the hearing committee found. The committee determined that Hammond violated attorney ethics rules related to the respect of a third-person's rights, conflicts of interest, competency and more. The Louisiana Supreme Court found that most of the allegations made by the state's Office of Disciplinary Counsel were true. The court's decision on Jan. 19 followed a temporary disbarment issued against Hammond in 2005. Hammond's offenses were "so egregious," the court wrote, that permanent disbarment was required, without the chance for Hammond to reapply for admission. The age of consent in Louisiana is 17. Hammond was not prosecuted for any crimes, said Avoyelles Parish District Attorney Charles Riddle. The credibility of the witnesses made it difficult to pursue the case, he said. "When the Supreme Court [temporarily] disbarred him, we made the decision not to prosecute the charges," Riddle said. The court ordered Hammond to pay restitution to his former clients, repay the Louisiana State Bar Association's client assistance fund and cover all costs and expenses of the proceeding. Hammond could not be reached for comment.