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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. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

  2. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  3. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

  4. I am one of Steele's victims and was taken for $6,000. I want my money back due to him doing nothing for me. I filed for divorce after a 16 year marriage and lost everything. My kids, my home, cars, money, pension. Every attorney I have talked to is not willing to help me. What can I do? I was told i can file a civil suit but you have to have all of Steelers info that I don't have. Of someone can please help me or tell me what info I need would be great.

  5. It would appear that news breaking on Drudge from the Hoosier state (link below) ties back to this Hoosier story from the beginning of the recent police disrespect period .... MCBA president Cassandra Bentley McNair issued the statement on behalf of the association Dec. 1. The association said it was “saddened and disappointed” by the decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown. “The MCBA does not believe this was a just outcome to this process, and is disheartened that the system we as lawyers are intended to uphold failed the African-American community in such a way,” the association stated. “This situation is not just about the death of Michael Brown, but the thousands of other African-Americans who are disproportionately targeted and killed by police officers.” http://www.thestarpress.com/story/news/local/2016/07/18/hate-cops-sign-prompts-controversy/87242664/

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