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Attorney disbarred for writing book about client

July 17, 2013

The Indiana Supreme Court has ordered a Carmel attorney disbarred after finding he wrote a book revealing sensitive information about a former client for his monetary gain.

The justices released the 7-page per curiam opinion Wednesday outlining the misconduct committed by Joseph Stork Smith that warrants his disbarment, effective Aug. 28.

In 2010, Smith authored a book purporting to be a true autobiographical account of his 20-year relationship with a former client who was active in politics and at one point held a high-level job in the federal government. The two had a sexual relationship for some time during this period. He apparently wrote the book to try to recoup some of the money he claimed she owed in legal fees.

“In the book, Respondent revealed personal and sensitive information about FC that was obtained in confidence as her attorney, and its revelation had the potential of causing her public embarrassment and other injury, such as impairment of her employment opportunities. Respondent's selfish motivation in deliberately attempting to reveal this confidential information to a wide audience for monetary gain, his false statements in the book and in this disciplinary matter, and his lack of any remorse lead us to conclude that that disbarment is appropriate for Respondent's misconduct,” states the opinion, In the Matter of: Joseph Stork Smith, 29S00-1201-DI-8.

The justices found Smith violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.7: Representing a client when there is a concurrent conflict of interest due to the lawyer's personal interests without obtaining the client's informed, written consent; 1.9(c)(1): Using information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of a former client except as rules permit or require, or when information becomes generally known; 1.9(c)(2): Revealing information relating to the representation of a former client except as rules permit or require; 7.1: Making a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer's services; 8.4(c): Engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; and 8.4(e): Stating or implying an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official.

Most of the rule violations stem from statements made in the book.

Smith was admitted to the bar in 1976 and prior to this action was in good standing, according to the Roll of Attorneys.
 

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