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Lawyer resigns over adding fee requirement to plea deal

May 12, 2014

An Indianapolis attorney who ran for elected office multiple times has resigned from the bar rather than face a disciplinary charge that he added a demand for a fee to a client’s proposed criminal plea agreement.

The Indiana Supreme Court issued an order May 8 accepting the resignation of Todd Woodmansee and concluding his discipline case, 49S00-1305-DI-347. The order says Woodmansee tendered a resignation that requires “acknowledgement that the material facts alleged are true” and that Woodmansee couldn’t successfully defend himself if prosecuted by the Disciplinary Commission.

Woodmansee represented Joshua Griffin, who was charged with Class D felony domestic battery and numerous misdemeanors. Woodmansee agreed to take the case on a $1,000 flat fee according to the verified petition, but upon later learning that Griffin was on probation for an earlier similar conviction, the attorney agreed to represent him on that matter for an additional $750.

Some time later, a deputy prosecutor emailed Woodmansee a proposed plea bargain that included a clause reading, “Defendant agrees guilty plea herein is a violation of defendants’ probation … therefore, probation is hereby revoked under that cause and terminated unsuccessfully, case closed.”

But the petition in Woodmansee’s disciplinary case alleged that he forwarded the agreement to Griffin in an email, adding these words at the end of the clause: “upon defendant paying costs of $750 through his attorney to the probation department.”

“The term of the $750 payment to probation was not in the original plea agreement sent from the prosecutor and was not intended to go toward any probation costs,” the petition reads. “Instead, (Woodmansee) added this term as a pretense to obtain the additional $750 that his client had originally stated he would pay.”

Griffin pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to time served and an additional 319 days of probation.

Woodmansee had filed for the Democratic Party’s nomination for Superior Court judge in last week’s primary, but he withdrew from the race in January. He previously ran for City-County Council in 2011 and Warren Township Small Claims Court judge in 2009, according to the Marion County Clerk’s Office.

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