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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. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  2. If the end result is to simply record the spoke word, then perhaps some day digital recording may eventually be the status quo. However, it is a shallow view to believe the professional court reporter's function is to simply report the spoken word and nothing else. There are many aspects to being a professional court reporter, and many aspects involved in producing a professional and accurate transcript. A properly trained professional steno court reporter has achieved a skill set in a field where the average dropout rate in court reporting schools across the nation is 80% due to the difficulty of mastering the necessary skills. To name just a few "extras" that a court reporter with proper training brings into a courtroom or a deposition suite; an understanding of legal procedure, technology specific to the legal profession, and an understanding of what is being said by the attorneys and litigants (which makes a huge difference in the quality of the transcript). As to contracting, or anti-contracting the argument is simple. The court reporter as governed by our ethical standards is to be the independent, unbiased individual in a deposition or courtroom setting. When one has entered into a contract with any party, insurance carrier, etc., then that reporter is no longer unbiased. I have been a court reporter for over 30 years and I echo Mr. Richardson's remarks that I too am here to serve.

  3. A competitive bid process is ethical and appropriate especially when dealing with government agencies and large corporations, but an ethical line is crossed when court reporters in Pittsburgh start charging exorbitant fees on opposing counsel. This fee shifting isn't just financially biased, it undermines the entire justice system, giving advantages to those that can afford litigation the most. It makes no sense.

  4. "a ttention to detail is an asset for all lawyers." Well played, Indiana Lawyer. Well played.

  5. I have a appeals hearing for the renewal of my LPN licenses and I need an attorney, the ones I have spoke to so far want the money up front and I cant afford that. I was wondering if you could help me find one that takes payments or even a pro bono one. I live in Indiana just north of Indianapolis.

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