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Disciplinary Actions - 5/21/14

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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.

Disbarment
Christopher E. Haigh has been disbarred immediately by the Indiana Supreme Court for continuing to practice during a suspension, per a May 7 disciplinary opinion. Haigh must also pay a $1,000 fine. See page 25 for more.

Resignation
Todd A. Woodmansee, of Marion County, has resigned from the bar, effective immediately, per an order released May 8. He must wait five years before petitioning for reinstatement, and the costs of the proceeding are assessed against him.

Suspension
Peter Raventos, of Owen County, has been suspended for noncooperation with the Disciplinary Commission, per an April 29 order. Raventos was already suspended for continuing legal education noncompliance and dues nonpayment. He pleaded guilty in 2013 to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting stemming from an incident in a state park in which he rigged a shotgun to shoot himself. He called 911 to report the shooting, and officers concluded he set up the shotgun to shoot himself. Raventos must pay $524.44 for the costs of this proceeding.

The Indiana Supreme Court issued an amended interim suspension order May 1 in the case of Robert B. Bush of Johnson County. Bush was suspended from practice Feb. 13, 2014, after being found guilty of felony stalking. The interim suspension will continue until further order of the court. The order issued in February erroneously said Bush was convicted of two felonies.

Brad J. Weber, of Adams County, has been suspended from practice effective May 2 for noncooperation with the Disciplinary Commission, per a May 2 order. He must pay $524.44 for the costs of this proceeding.

Lindsay C. Potthast, of Marion County, has been suspended for 30 days, which is stayed subject to completion of at least 12 months of probation, per a May 7 order. Potthast, a deputy prosecutor, pleaded guilty to Class C misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated related to a June 2011 traffic stop. Potthast violated Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) and 8.4(d). Her suspension began May 7. As part of her probation, she must enter into a monitoring agreement if recommended by the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against her.

Paul J. Page, of Marion County, has been suspended for at least two years by the Indiana Supreme Court. The suspension, beginning May 12, is without automatic reinstatement. Page pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting fraud by wire, radio or television, which led to an interim suspension Jan. 27. The justices found he violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 8.4(b) and 8.4(c). If Page’s two-year probation in the criminal case is reduced by an order of the trial court, he may petition for modification of his suspension from practice. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him. Chief Justice Brent Dickson believes Page should be disbarred; Justice Mark Massa did not participate.•

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  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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