State Supreme Court suspends law license of Jason Williams’ law partner Nicole Burdett
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Louisiana Supreme Court has suspended the law license of Nicole Burdett, Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams’ law firm partner and co-defendant in his July federal tax fraud trial.
Burdett is “suspended from the practice of law on an interim basis ... pending further orders of this court,” the justices ordered in a ruling issued last Thursday (Sept. 15). The ruling was effective immediately, and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel was ordered to institute “necessary disciplinary proceedings” against Burdett.
Burdett was convicted July 28 on four tax fraud counts related to her personal income tax returns. Those counts were charged separately from the 10-count tax fraud and conspiracy indictment for which she and Williams were acquitted by a federal jury that same day.
The jury found Burdett guilty of falsifying personal tax returns with more than $280,000 in inflated business expenses for the tax years 2014-17.
Three justices dissented from last week’s majority decision. Chief Justice John Weimer and Justice Piper Griffin noted they would have denied the ODC’s petition to suspend Burdett until after U.S. District Judge Lance M. Africk rules on a post-conviction motion for acquittal filed by Burdett’s attorney Michael Magner.
Africk has not indicated when he will rule on that motion, but Burdett is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 30.
Court records show that Africk told Magner and federal prosecutor Kelly Uebinger that he would not hear oral arguments on whether he should overturn the jury’s verdict, but would study briefs that already have been submitted by both sides.
“Notably, one week after the jury rendered a guilty verdict on four counts charged in the federal indictment, Judge Africk initiated a telephone conference with counsel in the federal proceeding and requested special briefing as to whether the government had successfully met its burden of proof at trial,” Weimer wrote in his dissent.
Magner, in a statement to Fox 8, said, “We continue to await Judge Africk’s ruling. In the event Judge Africk vacates these convictions and acquits Ms. Burdett, as the pending motion requests, we will request that the Supreme Court immediately reinstate Ms. Burdett’s license to practice law.”
Burdett also was arrested in Baton Rouge in April as part of an investigation into alleged government benefits fraud and filing false public records. The Louisiana Attorney General’s office is evaluating the strength of that case, but so far has not brought charges against Burdett.
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