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Justices disbar attorney

November 12, 2010

The Indiana Supreme Court chose to disbar a Marion County attorney due to his pattern of neglect in clients’ cases.

In a per curiam opinion handed down today, In the Matter of William J. Rawls, No. 49S00-0908-DI-355, the justices found William J. Rawls violated numerous Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct, including 1.3, failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness; and 8.4(b), committing a criminal act (forgery) that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer.

Rawls’ disbarment pertains to six instances involving separate clients. He often lied to clients, failed to return money, and failed to file appearances on behalf of his clients. In one case, Rawls forged his client’s signature on a purported refund receipt.

Rawls, who was admitted in 1985, has a history of discipline, including a prior suspension for misconduct in 2002. His other disciplinary actions involved CLE noncompliance, dues nonpayment, and noncooperation with the Disciplinary Commission.

“Respondent has demonstrated a pattern of neglect of his clients' cases, resulting in adverse dispositions, suspension of one client's driver's license, a missed opportunity to settle, and undue delay,” the opinion states. “Respondent made a series of intentional misrepresentations to the Commission during its investigations of grievances. Respondent created a fraudulent receipt, criminally forged a client's name on it, and submitted it to the Commission, acting as an agency of this Court, with the intent of deceiving the Commission. We therefore conclude that Respondent should be disbarred.”

His disbarment is effective Dec. 27.
 

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