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Attorneys get public reprimand

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In a disciplinary action released by the Indiana Supreme Court today, the justices held that the text of a 2004 version of the Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.15(b), as reinforced by Comment 3, required attorneys to promptly distribute undisputed portions of funds they held for clients or third parties. The high court also ruled that an attorney's duty to produce documentation in complying with the duty to render a full accounting to a client includes a full accounting of the attorney's billing statements, including hours spent under hourly contracts.

In the case In the matter of Kevin W. Marshall; In the Matter of C. Jerome Smith, No. 45S00-0606-DI-218, the justices found attorneys Kevin Marshal and C. Jerome Smith, partners in the same firm, violated Professional Conduct Rule 1.15(b) (2004) by failing to promptly release to a client the funds he was owed. The Supreme Court imposed a public reprimand.

Marshall and Smith's client retained Marshall to bring a suit against two insurance carriers. Under the first contract he signed, the client was billed $150 an hour but no further payments were required if the lawsuit was unsuccessful. Marshall told the client in 2004 that he'd have to win at least $300,000 in a jury verdict to cover his legal expenses and had a new contingent contract drawn up. The second contract gave the firm one-third of the gross recovery.

The client received a jury verdict of $1 million; the client was owed $562, 235.62. The client didn't receive a prompt payment and asked for Marshall's billing hours statements. Marshall refused to provide those. Nearly six months after the verdict, the client received the amount he was owed.

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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

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