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Disciplinary Actions - 3/12/14

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Indiana Lawyer Disciplinary Actions

The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission brings charges against attorneys who have violated the state’s rules for admission to the bar and Rules of Professional Conduct. The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications brings charges against judges, judicial officers, or judicial candidates for misconduct. Details of attorneys’ and judges’ actions for which they are being disciplined by the Supreme Court will be included unless they are not a matter of public record under the court’s rules.

Removal from bench
Kimberly Brown, of Marion Superior Court, has been removed from the bench, per a March 4 order. The justices found she “engaged in significant judicial misconduct.” Justice Rucker concurred in part, believing a 60-day suspension without pay followed by a stay of her removal through a period of supervised probation was a better sanction. See story on page 4.

Termination of Suspension
David J. Sokolowski, of Elkhart County, has had his suspension for noncooperation terminated, per a Feb. 13 order. He is to be reinstated as long as no other suspension is in effect.

Suspension
Joseph C. Lehman, of Elkhart County, has been suspended for no less than two years, without automatic reinstatement, per a Feb. 19 order. The suspension begins April 3. Lehman was charged with five counts, which includes throwing client files with confidential information into a trash bin. The files were found by a newspaper reporter. He also failed to appear at numerous hearings in other cases and was sometimes jailed for such failures, as well as incorrectly handling client cases. Lehman also comingled client and attorney funds.

Judges before whom Lehman practices testified that he has consistently practiced far below the average level of performance for Elkhart County attorneys, his deficiencies have created a tremendous amount of trouble for court staff, and his conduct hurts clients and the court system.

The Supreme Court found Lehman violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.1; 1.2(a); 1.6(a); 1.9(c)(2); 1.15(a); and 8.4(d), as well as Ind. Admission and Discipline Rules 23(29)(a)(2), (3) and (4). The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him.

David Wyser, of Madison County, was suspended Feb. 26 by the Indiana Supreme Court because Wyser has pleaded guilty to a felony. The suspension came three months after the Indiana Disciplinary Commission transmitted orders and requested Wyser’s suspension following his guilty plea in July to accepting a $2,500 bribe in exchange for facilitating the early release of a woman sentenced in the murder-for-hire of her husband. Wyser was sentenced to three years of probation. The interim suspension remains in effect until further order of the court. Justice Massa did not participate.•

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  1. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  2. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  3. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

  4. Baer filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on April 30 2015. When will this be decided? How many more appeals does this guy have? Unbelievable this is dragging on like this.

  5. They ruled there is no absolute right to keep a license, whether it be for a lifetime or a short period of time. So with that being said, this state taught me at the age of 15 how to obtain that license. I am actually doing something that I was taught to do, I'm not breaking the law breaking the rules and according to the Interstate Compact the National Interstate Compact...driving while suspended is a minor offense. So, do with that what you will..Indiana sucks when it comes to the driving laws, they really and truly need to reevaluate their priorities and honestly put the good of the community first... I mean, what's more important the pedophile drug dealer or wasting time and money to keep us off the streets?

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