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Disciplinary Actions - 3/12/14

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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.

Removal from bench
Kimberly Brown, of Marion Superior Court, has been removed from the bench, per a March 4 order. The justices found she “engaged in significant judicial misconduct.” Justice Rucker concurred in part, believing a 60-day suspension without pay followed by a stay of her removal through a period of supervised probation was a better sanction. See story on page 4.

Termination of Suspension
David J. Sokolowski, of Elkhart County, has had his suspension for noncooperation terminated, per a Feb. 13 order. He is to be reinstated as long as no other suspension is in effect.

Suspension
Joseph C. Lehman, of Elkhart County, has been suspended for no less than two years, without automatic reinstatement, per a Feb. 19 order. The suspension begins April 3. Lehman was charged with five counts, which includes throwing client files with confidential information into a trash bin. The files were found by a newspaper reporter. He also failed to appear at numerous hearings in other cases and was sometimes jailed for such failures, as well as incorrectly handling client cases. Lehman also comingled client and attorney funds.

Judges before whom Lehman practices testified that he has consistently practiced far below the average level of performance for Elkhart County attorneys, his deficiencies have created a tremendous amount of trouble for court staff, and his conduct hurts clients and the court system.

The Supreme Court found Lehman violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.1; 1.2(a); 1.6(a); 1.9(c)(2); 1.15(a); and 8.4(d), as well as Ind. Admission and Discipline Rules 23(29)(a)(2), (3) and (4). The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him.

David Wyser, of Madison County, was suspended Feb. 26 by the Indiana Supreme Court because Wyser has pleaded guilty to a felony. The suspension came three months after the Indiana Disciplinary Commission transmitted orders and requested Wyser’s suspension following his guilty plea in July to accepting a $2,500 bribe in exchange for facilitating the early release of a woman sentenced in the murder-for-hire of her husband. Wyser was sentenced to three years of probation. The interim suspension remains in effect until further order of the court. Justice Massa did not participate.•

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