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Disciplinary actions - 5/8/13

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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.

Suspension
David E. Schalk, of Monroe County, has been suspended for at least nine months by the Indiana Supreme Court, per an April 15 order. The justices found Schalk violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 8.4(b) by committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer; and 8.4(d) by engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Schalk illegally attempted a drug sting without the assistance of law enforcement in order to impeach a witness’s credibility at his client’s trial. Schalk was found guilty of Class A misdemeanor attempt to possess marijuana, which was upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals in 2011.

His suspension begins May 24 and he must petition for reinstatement. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against Schalk.

Bruce A. Carr, of Porter County, has been suspended indefinitely by the Indiana Supreme Court, per an April 19 order. Carr is admitted to practice in Indiana and Illinois and was suspended from practice in Illinois for nine months beginning Dec. 10, 2012. The reciprocal discipline took effect April 19 and the costs of the proceeding are assessed against Carr. If he is reinstated in Illinois, he may file a motion to be reinstated in Indiana.

Mark E. Watson, of Vigo County, has been suspended for at least 18 months by the Indiana Supreme Court, per an April 19 order. Watson admitted to five counts of misconduct occurring from 2009 to 2011, including making unauthorized charges for personal use of the law firm’s credit card and converting client funds. Watson has violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 8.4(b) by committing criminal conversion, and by committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer; and 8.4(c) by engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.

His suspension begins May 31 and he must petition for reinstatement. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against Watson. Chief Justice Brent Dickson dissented, believing the agreed punishment is insufficient in light of the admitted misconduct.

Dismissal
The Indiana Supreme Court entered judgment for Robert L. Canada, of Vanderburgh County, in a disciplinary case pending against the attorney in an April 26 order. The Disciplinary Commission alleged that Canada violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.5(a): making an agreement for, charging, or collecting an unreasonable fee; and 1.16(d): failure to refund fees that have not been earned.

A client hired Canada to represent him on a charge of Class A felony conspiracy to commit dealing in methamphetamine. They agreed to a flat fee of $10,000 to be paid from a cash bond. After being offered a plea agreement to a Class B felony, the client hired a different attorney to try to get a better plea. Canada withdrew as attorney, and the trial court later released $10,000 of the cash bond for his fee.

The hearing officer concluded that the fee agreement was reasonable. The justices concluded that the Disciplinary Commission didn’t prove by clear and convincing evidence that Canada did not fully earn his flat fee.
 

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  1. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  2. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

  3. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. Far too many people are sentenced for far too many years in prison. Many of the federal prisoners are sentenced for marijuana violations. Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

  4. My daughter was married less than a week and her new hubbys picture was on tv for drugs and now I havent't seen my granddaughters since st patricks day. when my daughter left her marriage from her childrens Father she lived with me with my grand daughters and that was ok but I called her on the new hubby who is in jail and said didn't want this around my grandkids not unreasonable request and I get shut out for her mistake

  5. From the perspective of a practicing attorney, it sounds like this masters degree in law for non-attorneys will be useless to anyone who gets it. "However, Ted Waggoner, chair of the ISBA’s Legal Education Conclave, sees the potential for the degree program to actually help attorneys do their jobs better. He pointed to his practice at Peterson Waggoner & Perkins LLP in Rochester and how some clients ask their attorneys to do work, such as filling out insurance forms, that they could do themselves. Waggoner believes the individuals with the legal master’s degrees could do the routine, mundane business thus freeing the lawyers to do the substantive legal work." That is simply insulting to suggest that someone with a masters degree would work in a role that is subpar to even an administrative assistant. Even someone with just a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies would be overqualified to sit around helping clients fill out forms. Anyone who has a business background that they think would be enhanced by having a legal background will just go to law school, or get an MBA (which typically includes a business law class that gives a generic, broad overview of legal concepts). No business-savvy person would ever seriously consider this ridiculous master of law for non-lawyers degree. It reeks of desperation. The only people I see getting it are the ones who did not get into law school, who see the degree as something to add to their transcript in hopes of getting into a JD program down the road.

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