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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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  5. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

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