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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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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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