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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. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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