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Disciplinary Actions - 10/12/12

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Indiana Lawyer Disciplinary Actions

The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission brings charges against attorneys who have violated the state’s rules for admission to the bar and Rules of Professional Conduct. The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications brings charges against judges, judicial officers, or judicial candidates for misconduct. Details of attorneys’ and judges’ actions for which they are being disciplined by the Supreme Court will be included unless they are not a matter of public record under the court’s rules.

License revocation
Harlan L. Vondersaar, of Hendricks County, has had his conditional admission revoked because he practiced law while suspended, per an Oct. 1, Supreme Court order.

Vondersaar was admitted in May 2011 based on a consent agreement that required, among other things, that he refrain from the use of alcohol, have no arrest for a criminal offense, and have “no alcohol related incidents” for three years. Less than five months later, Vondersaar was arrested for, and later pleaded guilty to, operating a vehicle while intoxicated. His blood alcohol content was 0.31 at the time of his arrest.

He was suspended for 90 days, but the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission later sought permanent revocation of his conditional admission or show cause as to why he shouldn’t be held in contempt. The commission says Vondersaar continued to practice during his suspension, which he admits.

“Respondent has been given repeated opportunities to conform his behavior to the standards required of those seeking admission to our bar but has failed to meet those standards. Accordingly, the Court finds that Respondent’s conditional admission to practice law in Indiana should be revoked,” Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote in the order.

Vondersaar’s license has been immediately revoked, and he shall not submit an application for admission to the bar for 18 months.

Suspension
Christopher T. Smith, of Hancock County, has been suspended for 90 days – stayed subject to completion of probation – following his guilty plea to Class D felony operating while intoxicated with minor passenger, per an Oct. 1 Supreme Court order.

Smith pleaded guilty to the charge April 19 and admitted that he endangered his three minor children, who were passengers in the car, as well as the public by driving. He has no disciplinary history, has been cooperative with the commission, and the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program believes his clinical needs would be best served by continuing to practice law and being monitored by JLAP.

The justices suspended Smith for violating Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(b), which prohibits committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer.

The suspension period will be stayed subject to Smith’s completion of at least two years of probation. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him.•
 

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  1. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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