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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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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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