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Disciplinary actions - Sept. 25, 2013

September 25, 2013
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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.

Public reprimand
Lonnie M. Randolph, of East Chicago, received a public reprimand from the Indiana Supreme Court in an order filed Sept. 5, 2013.

Randolph was found to have violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.1: Failure to provide competent representation; Rule 1.3: Failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness; Rule 3.1: Asserting a position for which there is no non-frivolous basis in law or fact; Rule 1.5(a): Making an agreement for, charging, or collecting an unreasonable fee; and Rule 1.16(d): Failure to refund an unearned fee upon termination of representation.

The court found that Randolph took money from a client for a sentence modification that he should have known was not possible, and then continued to seek post-conviction relief for his client but failed to adequately instruct or communicate with him. Disputes over fees ensued. Randolph has received two prior private reprimands, and he acknowledged his present misconduct by resolving this matter by conditional agreement. Cost of proceedings are assessed against him.

Randolph is an Indiana state senator representing District 2.

Lori Ann Hittle, of Cicero, received a public reprimand from the Indiana Supreme Court in an order filed Sept. 12, 2013.

Hittle was found to have violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(d) which prohibits engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. In April 2012, while serving as a part-time deputy prosecutor in Howard County, she pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a Class A misdemeanor. The order states that Hittle had no disciplinary history, cooperated with the Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, was remorseful, served a one-month suspension without pay from her position as deputy prosecutor, and began individual substance abuse counseling prior to the filing of criminal charges.

Suspension
Jerry L. Peteet, of Gary, was suspended from the practice of law in Indiana, effective immediately, by the Indiana Supreme Court in an order filed Sept. 6, 2013.

Peteet was found guilty of the following felonies under federal law: racketeering and attempt to commit murder in aid of racketeering activity. The interim suspension will continue until further order of the court or final resolution of any resulting disciplinary action, provided no other suspension is in effect.

Earl C. Mullins Jr., of Louisville, Ky., was suspended indefinitely from the practice of law in Indiana, beginning Oct. 18, 2013, by the Indiana Supreme Court in an order filed Sept. 6, 2013.

The suspension was reciprocal discipline imposed as the result of a suspension ordered by the Supreme Court of Kentucky. Mullins was suspended from the practice of law in Kentucky for 90 days, with 30 days actively served and 60 days probated for two years on the condition that he receive no further disciplinary charges. The Indiana court order states that if Mullins is reinstated to practice in Kentucky, he may file a Motion for Reinstatement after his minimum 30-day active suspension in Indiana pursuant to and in full compliance with Admission and Discipline Rule 23(28)(e), provided there is no other suspension order in effect.

Joseph B. Barker, of Martinsville, was suspended for 30 days from the practice of law in Indiana, effective Oct. 14, 2013, by the Indiana Supreme Court in an order filed Sept. 6, 2013.

During his representation of a father in a dissolution action, Barker wrote in a letter to the mother’s attorney that the mother does not understand what laws mean, probably because she is an illegal alien. The court found “accusing Mother of being in the country illegally is not legitimate advocacy concerning the legal matter at issue and served no substantial purpose other than to embarrass or burden Mother.”

The Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission charged Barker with violating Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 4.4(a): Using means in representing a client that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay or burden a third person; and 8.4(g): Engaging in conduct, in a professional capacity, manifesting bias or prejudice based upon race, gender, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, or similar factors, and this conduct was not legitimate advocacy.

Barker will be automatically reinstated at the conclusion of the 30-day period provided no other suspensions are in effect.

Jeffrey D. Heck, of Carmel, was suspended from the practice of law in Indiana, effective immediately, by the Indiana Supreme Court in an order filed Sept. 5, 2013. Heck was suspended for noncooperation with the Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission. The suspension will continue until the commission certifies that he has fully cooperated with the investigation, the investigation or any disciplinary proceedings arising from the investigation are disposed of, or until further order of the court.

James C. Kotz, of Munster, was suspended from the practice of law in Indiana, effective Sept. 12, the date of the Indiana Supreme Court order. Kotz was found guilty of the following felony under federal law: interference with administration of internal revenue laws. The interim suspension will continue until further order of the court or final resolution of any resulting disciplinary action, provided no other suspension is in effect.

Resignation
Resignation from the Indiana bar by Timothy V. Clark, of Indianapolis, was accepted by the Indiana Supreme Court in an order filed Sept. 6, 2013. Any attorney disciplinary proceedings pending were dismissed.

The order states that Clark had an extensive history of discipline, including a warning that any future misconduct could lead to a sanction up to and including disbarment. The order states that the misconduct charged in the verified complaint would likely have resulted in permanent disbarment had he not chosen voluntary resignation from the bar. If Clark seeks reinstatement, the misconduct admitted in the affidavit of resignation, as well as any other allegations of misconduct, will be addressed in the reinstatement process.•

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  1. Ah yes... Echoes of 1963 as a ghostly George Wallace makes his stand at the Schoolhouse door. We now know about the stand of personal belief over service to all constituents at the Carter County Clerk door. The results are the same, bigotry unable to follow the directions of the courts and the courts win. Interesting to watch the personal belief take a back seat rather than resign from a perception of local power to make the statement.

  2. An oath of office, does it override the conscience? That is the defense of overall soldier who violates higher laws, isnt it? "I was just following orders" and "I swore an oath of loyalty to der Fuhrer" etc. So this is an interesting case of swearing a false oath and then knowing that it was wrong and doing the right thing. Maybe they should chop her head off too like the "king's good servant-- but God's first" like St Thomas More. ...... We wont hold our breath waiting for the aclu or other "civil liberterians" to come to her defense since they are all arrayed on the gay side, to a man or should I say to a man and womyn?

  3. Perhaps we should also convene a panel of independent anthropological experts to study the issues surrounding this little-known branch of human sacrifice?

  4. I'm going to court the beginning of Oct. 2015 to establish visitation and request my daughters visits while she is in jail. I raised my grandchild for the first two and half years. She was born out of wedlock and the father and his adopted mother wantwd her aborted, they went as far as sueing my daughter for abortion money back 5mo. After my grandchild was born. Now because of depression and drug abuse my daughter lost custody 2 and a half years ago. Everyting went wrong in court when i went for custody my lawyer was thrown out and a replacment could only stay 45 min. The judge would not allow a postponement. So the father won. Now he is aleinating me and my daughter. No matter the amount of time spent getting help for my daughter and her doing better he runs her in the ground to the point of suicide because he wants her to be in a relationship with him. It is a sick game of using my grandchild as a pawn to make my daughter suffer for not wanting to be with him. I became the intervener in the case when my daughter first got into trouble. Because of this they gave me her visitation. Im hoping to get it again there is questions of abuse on his part and I want to make sure my grandchild is doing alright. I really dont understand how the parents have rights to walk in and do whatever they want when the refuse to stand up and raise the child at first . Why should it take two and a half years to decide you want to raise your child.The father used me so he could finish college get a job and stop paying support by getting custody. Support he was paying my daughter that I never saw.

  5. Pence said when he ordered the investigation that Indiana residents should be troubled by the allegations after the video went viral. Planned Parenthood has asked the government s top health scientists at the National Institutes of Health to convene a panel of independent experts to study the issues surrounding the little-known branch of medicine.

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