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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. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  2. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

  4. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

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