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Disciplinary Actions - 2/26/14

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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.

Reciprocal Discipline
Kent D. Mitchner, has been suspended for 30 days, all stayed subject to probation as imposed by the Supreme Court of Kentucky, per a Feb. 3 Indiana Supreme Court order. Mitchner was suspended in Kentucky effective Aug. 29 for 30 days, probated for one year with conditions. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him.

Public reprimand
Scott Storms, of Marion County, has received a public reprimand for violating Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.11(d). Storms was general counsel and chief administrative law judge at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, where he heard matters involving Duke Energy Indiana Inc. He resigned from the IURC when formally offered a job at Duke. A state ethics investigation led to a $12,120 fine for violating I.C. 4-2-6-9 and a ban from future employment with the state.

The justices found several mitigating factors, including the fine and employment ban. The order notes that the discipline imposed may have been more severe had this matter been submitted without the commission’s agreement to a public reprimand.

Suspension
Randall B. Stiles, of Allen County, has been suspended for noncooperation effective immediately, per two Feb. 3 orders. Stiles filed objections to the Disciplinary Commission’s requests for ruling and to tax costs, in which the court found no merit. The suspension will remain in effect until Stiles cooperates with the commission, the disciplinary proceedings arising from the investigation are disposed of, or until further order of the court. He is ordered to reimburse the Disciplinary Commission $1,048.88 in costs.

Amanda A. Johnson, of Madison County, has been suspended for noncooperation, effectively immediately, per a Feb. 4 order. The suspension shall continue until she fully cooperates with the Disciplinary Commission, the investigation or any disciplinary proceedings arising from the investigation are disposed of, or until further order of the court. She is ordered to reimburse the Disciplinary Commission $524.44 in costs.

Thomas L. Montgomery, of Vanderburgh County, has been suspended for at least one year, without automatic reinstatement, per a Feb. 3 order. The order lists five counts, including becoming involved in a personal relationship with a former client and purchasing a gun for her, knowing she was a convicted felon. The order also says that Montgomery falsely told colleagues that he had a life-threatening brain tumor.

He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has been working with the Judges and Lawyers Monitoring Program. There is a cyst on his brain, but it is not a brain tumor.

The justices found Montgomery has violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.3; 1.4(a)(3); 5.3(b); 8.4(b); 8.4(c); and 8.4(d).

Montgomery has been suspended since 2008 for CLE noncompliance and dues nonpayment. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him.

Gary L. Dilk, of Marion County, has been suspended for at least six months, without automatic reinstatement, per a Feb. 10 order. The suspension takes effect March 24. The justices found he violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.4(a); 1.4(b); 1.8(f); 3.2; 5.4(a); 5.4(c); 5.5(a); 7.3(e); and 8.4(d). The nine counts of misconduct concern Dilk’s representation of clients referred to him by Ohio-based for-profit Foreclosure Solutions LLC and by other organizations and his serving as “of counsel” in Indiana foreclosure actions for an Ohio law firm.

He received approximately 2,675 referrals from Foreclosures Solutions. His typical practice was to allow judgment to be entered without opposition or hearing, and he had no direct contact with many of his clients. He asserted to the Disciplinary Commission that the homeowners were not his clients, to which the order says “shows a lack of insight into his professional responsibilities to the homeowners for whom he appeared as counsel, asserting that his professional duties were owed to the companies who hired him, not to homeowners.”

Terrance L. Kinnard, of Marion County, has been suspended for at least six months, without automatic reinstatement, per a Feb. 10 order. The charges stem in part from false statements he made in April 2008 on a petition to modify custody and to find a mother in contempt. Kinnard also filed a defamation suit against the mother, who filed a grievance against him, seeking more than $100,000 and attorney fees. The mother and respondent filed a joint motion to dismiss in August 2008.

The justices found he violated Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct 3.5(b), 3.1, 4.4(a) and 8.4(d). The suspension begins March 24, and the costs of the proceeding are assessed against Kinnard.

Robert B. Bush, of Johnson County, has been suspended effective immediately, per a Feb. 13 order. Bush has been found guilty of felony stalking and invasion of privacy. The interim suspension shall continue until further order of the court or final resolution of any resulting disciplinary action, provided no other suspension is in effect.

Jennifer L. Graham, of Marion County, has been suspended for 60 days, beginning Feb. 14, per an order from the Supreme Court. The suspension is stayed subject to completion of at least two years of probation, including monitoring with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program. The justices found she violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 8.4(b) and 8.4(c) when she wrote two checks from her client trust account payable to herself and deposited into her operating account to cover losses she incurred from gambling. She has since repaid the $1,100 she converted from her client trust account.

Graham admits she is a compulsive gambler and has taken steps to address her addiction. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against her.•

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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