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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. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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