Court sanctions Indianapolis attorney

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An Indianapolis attorney has received a public reprimand in the third and final leg of a yearlong disciplinary triangle, which has led to a Marion Superior judge's suspension and a commissioner's resignation and banishment from the bench.

In an order dated March 13, a split Indiana Supreme Court voted 3-2 to issue a public reprimand to Carolyn W. Rader as part of a conditional agreement in the disciplinary action against her. Justice Frank Sullivan would have rejected the agreement because he finds the sanction insufficient, while Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard wanted a short suspension.

The court decided that Rader violated Professional Conduct Rule 1.4(a)(2), which requires a lawyer to consult reasonably with a client about the means by which the client's objectives are being accomplished. The Disciplinary Commission filed charges against Rader in July, about three months after the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission had filed misconduct charges against Marion Superior Judge Grant W. Hawkins and his then-commissioner Nancy Broyles relating to the same post-conviction case.

All three actions came as a result of the legal drama involving Harold Buntin, who spent 22 months in prison after DNA evidence had cleared him of a 1984 rape. He'd petitioned for relief in 1998 based on DNA evidence that wasn't available during his trial that he hoped would clear him; it eventually did in 2005. But Broyles took that case under advisement after a March 2005 hearing and ultimately didn't rule on it for more than a year. When Buntin received no word from the court or his attorney Rader, despite his and his family's repeated attempts to get an answer, he contacted the commission to investigate the reason for the delay in early 2007.

The judicial disciplinary commission investigated and discovered that Judge Hawkins' lack of court supervision resulted in case delays leading to Buntin's longer incarceration, while Broyles had a history of delays on this and other post-conviction cases.

She resigned last year and has been permanently banned from the bench as a result of this case. A divided Indiana Supreme Court last week decided an unpaid suspension was the most appropriate sanction for Judge Hawkins.

Now, Rader receives a public reprimand that two of the justices find to be inadequate.

"While the judge and magistrate who held the matter under advisement for two years bear the principal responsibility, Respondent's stewardship of the client's interest was a part of the overall fault," Chief Justice Shepard wrote. "My colleagues say that there is no way to know whether this failure to communicate with her client Harold Buntin and his family would have hastened a ruling and shortened the time wrongly spent in prison. I would like to think that the Court is wrong about that, and that a reasonable responsiveness to the client would have led to use of the tools available for obtaining a ruling."


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  1. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

  2. Steele did more than what is listed too. He purposely sought out to ruin me, calling potential employers and then lied about me alleging all kinds of things including kidnapping. None of his allegations were true. If you are in need of an ethical and very knowledgeable family law paralegal, perhaps someone could post their contact information. Ethics cannot be purchased, either your paralegal has them or they do not.

  3. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  4. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise