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Second attorney ordered to pay fine or go to jail for practicing with suspended license

August 31, 2017

For the second time in a month, the Indiana Supreme Court has threatened to impose jail time on an attorney found in contempt if she does not pay a fine for practicing law while her license was suspended.

Chesterton attorney Darcie L. Campanella was suspended from practice for no less than 30 days without automatic reinstatement on Sept. 28, 2016, for violations of Professional Conduct Rules 1.1 and 8.4(d), and she has remained under suspension since then. But according to allegations made by the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, Campanella filed a “CCS Entry Form” and “Notice of Change of Address” on behalf of a client in Lake County in February 2017, purportedly as the client’s “attorney-in-fact.”

Further, Campanella allegedly made an appearance at a hearing on the client’s behalf, discussed the perceived strength of the client’s case with opposing counsel and was told by the trial court judge she could not continue her representation due to her suspension, including filing motions to continue. Regardless, Campanella faxed a motion to continue, a proposed order and another CCS entry form to the court on behalf of the client in March 2017 and also called the court directly to request a continuance.

The Indiana Supreme Court issued a show cause order on June 13, to which Campanella did not respond. As a result, the court found her in contempt for practicing law with a suspended license and ordered her to pay a $500 fine within 30 days of Aug. 29.

If Campanella fails to pay the fine, the high court said she will be ordered to serve a 30-day jail sentence, without the benefit of good time, in the Indiana Department of Correction. Campanella must pay the $500 in full in order to avoid jail time, though she will be released from her obligation to pay if she is ordered to serve the sentence.

Additionally, the justices ordered Campanella to remain suspended from the practice of law in Indiana for at least one year, without automatic reinstatement, effective Tuesday. The costs of the proceedings are assessed against her.

All justices concurred except Justice Steve David, who dissented and said “(Campanella’s) conduct warrants and, unfortunately, requires some mandatory executed term of imprisonment in addition to a substantial fine.” David also dissented when similar discipline was imposed last week on disbarred attorney Timothy P. O’Connor, who was paid to represent a client after his disbarment in 2011.

Like Campanella, O’Connor was ordered to pay a $500 fine and refund the money he was paid or face a 30-day jail sentence, but David dissented and would have imposed more significant sanctions.

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