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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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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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