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Justices warn Indiana, out-of-state attorneys

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The Indiana Supreme Court has a warning for attorneys both inside and outside the state: comply with the rules for being admitted to practice here or else.

That “or else” component could mean more stringent discipline for Hoosier attorneys and potential unauthorized practice of law sanctions for those not properly admitted to practice in Indiana.

A per curiam opinion issues that caution today in the case In The Matter of Anonymous, No. 10S00-1006-DI-288, which comes out of Clark County and lodges a private reprimand against a Jeffersonville attorney for violating Professional Conduct Rule 5.5(a) by assisting in the unauthorized practice of law. Specifically, the sanction goes to the Indiana attorneys’ work on a case with a Kentucky attorney who didn’t comply with the state’s temporary admission rules.

The case stems from an incident where a Kentucky resident was injured in a fall at an Indiana restaurant, and that person hired a Kentucky attorney who later brought on a Jeffersonville attorney as local counsel. The out-of-state attorney didn’t seek temporary admission to practice in Indiana and both filed their appearances, though the Kentucky attorney subsequently signed and served answers to interrogatories and took depositions inside Indiana without the Jeffersonville attorney’s knowledge.

After the Kentucky attorney appeared in court for the client, the judge informed the Indiana attorney that his out-of-state colleague wasn’t admitted to practice here. The Hoosier lawyer told his colleague to seek temporary admission and gave him a copy of the applicable admission rule, but neither followed through with that process.

“The participation of Indiana co-counsel in the temporary admission process is of vital importance to this Court’s ability to supervise out-of-state attorneys practicing in this state,” the Supreme Court wrote. “This is no minor or perfunctory duty.”

Noting that not all attorneys seeking temporary admission will be granted that privilege, the justices said that rule compliance is very important and the in-state lawyers can be disciplined if those rules are ignored. But the court pointed out that too many attorneys are not following the rules. More than 600 notices for automatic exclusion for practice have gone out this year so far and the court has granted automatic exclusion relief to more than 140 out-of-state attorneys, the ruling states, noting that many are likely not practicing inside Indiana but hadn’t notified the Appellate Clerk’s Office that a case had concluded or they’d withdrawn.

“The need for this would be nearly eliminated if all Indiana co-counsel complied with their ethical duty to ensure that attorneys granted temporary admission in Indiana comply with Admission and Discipline Rule 3(2),” the court wrote, adding that all Indiana attorneys acting as local counsel for out-of-state lawyers have an ethical obligation to do so. “Indiana attorneys who neglect that duty in future cases may be subject to more stringent discipline, and out-of-state attorneys who fail to comply with this rule may be sanctioned for the unauthorized practice of law in this state.”
 

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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