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Disciplinary Actions - 7/17/13

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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
Noah Holcomb Jr., of Lake County, has been suspended by the Indiana Supreme Court for at least three years, per a June 28 order. Holcomb made 21 disbursements from his attorney trust account from November 2007 to March 2008 while his office’s operating account was levied by the IRS. These disbursements were not related to any client but for his benefit. In 1999, he failed to liquidate stock, redeem fully mature U.S. savings bonds and pay inheritance taxes as a representative for an unsupervised decedent’s estate. His failure to act resulted in losses for the estate. He also paid himself around $30,000 from the estate, most of which he did not earn.

Holcomb has violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.3, 1.5(a), 1.15(a), 1.15(c), 1.15(d), 8.4(b), 8.4(c) and 8.4(d); as well as Ind. Admission and Discipline Rules 23(29)(a)(2), 23(29)(a)(3), 23(29)(a)(4), and 23(29)(a)(5).

The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him. The justices noted Holcomb may have been disbarred had it not been for an agreement between Holcomb and the Disciplinary Commission. His suspension is without automatic reinstatement, and it begins Aug. 2. Justices David and Rush dissented, believing he should be disbarred.

Ronald E. Weldy, of Marion County, has been suspended for 180 days, with 90 days actively served and the remainder stayed subject to completing at least one year of probation, per a June 28 order. Six counts were filed against Weldy. In Count 1, he neglected his client on a wage claim action and failed to communicate with her, including not telling her his office moved. Her case had been dismissed under Ind. Trial Rule 41(E). In Count 2, he sought $8,000 from a settlement for attorney fees, which the client did not agree to. After the client filed for bankruptcy, Weldy served as attorney for the bankruptcy trustee and the bankruptcy court determined his fee for services.

In Count 3, he was hired to pursue a wage claim action and the client disputed the amount of attorney fees Weldy claimed after a settlement. In Count 4, he was hired to file a wage claim action and was terminated after making no progress for a year. He was later re-hired and mistakenly told the client that a motion for summary judgment had been filed. The case was dismissed under Trial Rule 41(E). In Count 5, he failed to respond to his client’s requests for information on a wage claim action, but the client hired him to represent her in a second action with no written fee agreement. The second claim settled and Weldy kept the settlement check and filed a small-claims action against her. The court ordered him to deposit the check with the court and he received a third of the amount. In Count 6, he agreed to represent a client in a proposed class action against Clarian Health Partners regarding alleged violations of Indiana’s wage and hour laws. He was sanctioned by the court for making untrue assertions during discovery. The client and Clarian settled, but Weldy continued pursuing the case. A petition filed by Clarian seeking $40,000 in attorney fees is still pending.

Weldy has violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.2(a), 1.3, 1.4(a)(3), 1.4(a)(4), 1.4(b), 1.5(b), 1.5(c), 1.7(a)(2), 1.15(e), 1.16(a)(3), 3.1, 3.2, 3.3(a)(1), 8.4(c), and 8.4(d).

His suspension begins Aug. 9. The justices noted his discipline may have been more severe had he not entered into an agreement with the Disciplinary Commission. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against Weldy. Chief Justice Dickson and Justice Rush dissent, believing the penalty is insufficient for the severity of the offense.

Public Reprimand
David J. Scott, of Henry County, received a public reprimand from the Indiana Supreme Court June 28 for violating Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(b). Scott pleaded guilty to a Class A misdemeanor charge of battery, which involved his wife and occurred in front of his minor children, and he was placed on probation for one year. He is remorseful, has completed his probation and is compliant with a monitoring agreement with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program.

The costs of the proceeding are assessed against Scott.

Elden E. Stoops, of Wabash County, received a public reprimand from the Indiana Supreme Court June 28 in two cases. The first case involved his representation of an uncle who sought custody of a child. Stoops sent copies of the papers he filed to the father but failed to serve them on or contact the father’s counsel of record. Counsel and Stoops later worked out an agreement regarding custody. In that case, he was found to have violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 3.5(b), 8.4(d) and 8.4(f).

In the second case, Stoops represented a grandmother and a half-brother who sought to be named co-guardians of the half-brother’s siblings. After difficulties developed between the half-brother, his girlfriend and the wards, Stoops filed on behalf of the grandmother a request that the half-brother be removed as co-guardian. The half-brother’s attorney believed this to be a conflict of interest. Another attorney entered an appearance on behalf of the grandmother, but it’s not clear whether Stoops ever withdrew his appearance for either the grandmother or half-brother. He violated Rule 1.7(a)(1) in this matter. The costs of the proceedings are assessed against him.

Resignation
John Carroll Eckert, of Jefferson County, has resigned from the bar, effectively immediately, per a June 28 order. Any disciplinary proceedings pending are dismissed as moot. He must wait five years to petition for reinstatement. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against Eckert.

Terminated Suspension

The suspension of Veronica M. Roby, of Madison County, for noncooperation with the Disciplinary Commission has been terminated by the Indiana Supreme Court, per a July 2 order. The suspension ended June 28, and Roby was reinstated to the practice of law as long as no other suspension is in effect. Her failure to pay any outstanding costs in this case by Oct. 1 will subject her to an order of suspension.

Reinstatement
The Indiana Supreme Court has reinstated Charles J. Rathburn Jr., of Allen County, effective July 2. Rathburn was suspended in 2006 and petitioned for reinstatement in February 2012. The Disciplinary Commission recommended that Rathburn not be reinstated because he had not met his burden of proof that he fully complied with the terms of the order for discipline. The Supreme Court denied his petition in April, but reinstated Rathburn after he filed a motion for reconsideration. The justices concluded that the noncompliance identified by the hearing officer and the commission should not bar his readmission.•

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  1. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

  2. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

  3. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  4. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  5. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

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