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Attorney disbarred for writing book about client

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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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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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