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Supreme Court reprimands attorney for falsifying hours worked

May 19, 2017

The Indiana Supreme Court has publicly reprimand an Indianapolis attorney accused of falsifying the time he spent working on cases in official claims for attorney fees.

Patrick Mulvany represented clients seeking judicial review of Social Security claims in federal court. Federal statute makes attorney fees available to clients who prevail in their cases, but over the course of several years Mulvany submitted applications for attorney fees that were not compliant with the statutory requirement, according to the Thursday order approving the statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline.

Specifically, the statute required attorney fees applications to reflect actual time expended, but Mulvany would submit nearly identical applications in each of his cases in which he assigned an hourly “worth” to the tasks he completed, regardless of the time he actually spent completing those tasks. Magistrate and district court judges repeatedly denied Mulvany’s attorney fees applications, and ordered, using “progressively stronger language,” that he track and report the actual time he spent working.

The issue came to a head in 2015 when, in responses to a Social Security Administration brief opposing a fee award, Mulvany filed an amended attorney fee affidavit that falsified the time he spent working on a particular case. The district court judge denied the application and ordered Mulvany to send a copy of the court’s order to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission. Additionally, Mulvany filed a report with the district court expression contrition and promising to “employ appropriate timekeeping practices,” according to the order.

The parties agreed Mulvany violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 3.3(a)(1) and 8.4(c), which prohibit knowingly making false statements and engaging in dishonest, fraudulent or deceitful conduct. The Supreme Court imposed a public reprimand as Mulvany’s discipline and assessed the costs of the proceeding against him.

Also on Thursday, the high court indefinitely suspended South Bend attorney Sven Marshall for failure to respond to a show cause order.

Marshall was ordered in March to show cause why he should not be suspended from the practice of law immediately for his failure to cooperate with the commission’s investigation into a grievance against him. Marshall did not respond to that order, nor to an April “Request for Ruling and to Tax Costs.”

Thus, the court suspended Marshall, effective immediately, until he cooperates with the disciplinary investigation or until further order of the court. Marshall was also ordered to reimburse the commission $513.24 for the costs of prosecuting the proceeding.

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