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Disciplinary Actions - 4/27/12

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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.

Contempt
Danny Ray Hill, of St. Joseph County, has been found in contempt of court by the Indiana Supreme Court for practicing law in Indiana while suspended. The justices ordered on March 30, 2012, that Hill pay $250 within 60 days of the order.

Hill was suspended indefinitely in Indiana in 2006; in 2008, he sent a letter to a couple in Illinois on letterhead with a South Bend address identifying himself as an attorney. He indicated that he had reviewed living trust and related documents prepared for the couple and advised them on the legality and effectiveness of the documents. Even though the couple was in Illinois, Hill’s actions were in Indiana.

Timothy D. Freeman, of Marion County, has been ordered by the Indiana Supreme Court to pay a $2,500 fine and disgorge a $500 retainer fee within 10 days of April 3, 2012, or he will be ordered to serve a 30-day imprisonment.

Freeman has been the subject of five show cause proceedings for noncooperation with the Disciplinary Commission. He has continued to practice law in seven cases after he was suspended. Justice Steven David believed a longer imprisonment should be required. Justice Mark Massa did not participate.

William J. Rawls, of Marion County, has been found guilty by the Indiana Supreme Court of indirect criminal contempt by practicing law while disbarred. In an April 10, 2012, order, the justices ordered Rawls be sentenced to seven days imprisonment in the Department of Correction, without the benefit of good time; and pay a $500 fine within 60 days of this order.

Rawls was disbarred Dec. 27, 2010, but in February 2011 he had completed an appearance on behalf of another attorney, signed the attorney’s name on the appearance form and placed the initials “BW” next to the signature. He did not respond to an order to show cause.

Suspension
Mark J. Thornburg, of Marion County, has been suspended for 90 days, all stayed subject to completion of 24 months of probation, per an April 10, 2012, order from the Indiana Supreme Court. The discipline is effective April 28.

Thornburg pleaded guilty shortly after passing the bar exam in 1998 to operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 to 0.15, a Class C misdemeanor. He reported the incident and was sworn in later that year. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated with endangerment. He notified the Disciplinary Commission of the conviction.

He violated Rule 8.4(b), but mitigating factors are that Thornburg met with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program shortly after his arrest, has no disciplinary history, and has been cooperative with the commission.

Reinstatement
Barbara L. Barkas, of Marion County, has been reinstated to the practice of law in Indiana as of April 3, 2012, per an order from the Indiana Supreme Court, as long as there are no other suspensions in effect. She had been suspended for failure to cooperate with a disciplinary case.•

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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