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Disciplinary Actions - 7/6/12

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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.

Disbarment
Douglas W. Patterson, of Vanderburgh County, has been disbarred following his guilty plea to stealing from clients, per a June 20, 2012, Indiana Supreme Court order. Patterson, who has previous disciplinary actions and was suspended at the time of the disbarment, pleaded guilty in 2011 to three counts of Class D felony theft of client funds. The justices found he engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.

Suspension
Ryan L. Strup, of Marion County, has been suspended by the Indiana Supreme Court for violating conditions of his probation by consuming alcohol, per a June 20, 2012, order. In December 2011, the justices approved a conditional agreement that suspended Strup for 90 days, all stayed subject to the completion of at least two years of probation with monitoring by the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program.

His suspension, which is without automatic reinstatement, takes effect Aug. 1 and shall be for a period of no less than 90 days. The costs of the proceedings are assessed against Strup.

Robert C. Szilagyi, of LaPorte County, has been suspended by the Indiana Supreme Court for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. The June 20, 2012, order says Szilagyi, who is the prosecutor in LaPorte County, violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 8.4(c) and (d) when he signed his ex-wife’s name on a quitclaim deed. Szilagyi discovered on the day he was to close refinancing on the formal marital residence he and his ex-wife had shared that his ex-wife had signed her restored name on the deed instead of the married name as reflected on the title. Szilagyi also signed his secretary’s name as notary and used her stamp on the deed without consent of her or his ex-wife. The secretary was investigated by the Indiana secretary of state due to Szilagyi’s actions.

The parties found that Szilagyi forged the signatures because he wanted to avoid an “unpleasant conversation” with his ex-wife and that he should have known how this type of misconduct can impugn the reputation of lawyers and the legal system. Szilagyi has no disciplinary history and accepted responsibility for his actions.

The suspension is for 60 days and begins Aug. 1. If there are no objections, he will be automatically reinstated. The costs of the proceedings are assessed against him.•

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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  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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