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Court sends reminder on permanent withdrawal rules

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Note to Indiana attorneys: don’t permanently relinquish your law license in this state unless you’re absolutely sure you won’t ever want to return. If you do, don’t be surprised if you have to take the bar exam again.

That’s the message the Indiana Supreme Court reiterated on Monday, issuing an order in Ronald W. Harmeyer v. State Board of Law Examiners, No. 94S00-1107-BL-4686, that denies a former Fort Wayne lawyer’s request to be readmitted in Indiana without re-taking the bar exam here.

Admitted in 1992, Ron W. Harmeyer began practicing in Indiana and was admitted in Wisconsin in 1996. In late 2008, he submitted an affidavit of permanent withdrawal to the Indiana Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Commission and agreed that he would need to comply with Admission and Discipline Rules 3-21 if he ever wanted to return to practice in Indiana.  His license was relinquished in December 2008.

Under the state’s attorney admission rules, lawyers must take the bar exam and be admitted within two years, or they must take the exam again. Retired attorneys can be readmitted through lesser requirements without retaking the bar exam, but that does not apply in this case. Harmeyer sought and received permanent withdrawal.

On July 11, 2011, Harmeyer called the Indiana Board of Law Examiners to ask about reinstatement and was told he’d either have to retake the Indiana bar exam or seek a provisional or business counsel license to be readmitted. He filed a petition with the Supreme Court that same day requesting a review of the BLE’s final decision, arguing that the state admission rules require a person to take and pass the bar exam here only once and so he shouldn’t have to do so again.

“The phrases ‘final action’ and ‘final determination’ (in Admission and Discipline Rule 14) denote a greater degree of formality than exists in Harmeyer’s situation,” Chief Justice Randall Shepard wrote in the order, noting that the information wasn’t a “final action” as Harmeyer described it.

Harmeyer’s petition is dismissed as procedurally premature. But Chief Justice Shepard added that even if Harmeyer’s petition followed a “final action” from the BLE, the court would likely have denied it because the rules clearly inform attorneys the consequences of permanently relinquishing their law licenses – that includes passing the bar exam again if the lawyer has not secured a provisional or business counsel license.
 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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