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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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