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Disciplinary Actions -1/30/13

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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.

Reciprocal discipline
Mark J. Hughes has been suspended indefinitely from the practice of law in Indiana, as of Jan. 8, per a Supreme Court order. Hughes, who is also admitted to practice in Arizona, was disbarred from practice in Arizona in May 2012. If Hughes is reinstated in Arizona, he may file for reinstatement in Indiana, provided there is no other suspension order in effect.

Suspension
William E. Dittrich, of Porter County, has received a 90-day suspension with automatic reinstatement from the Supreme Court, per a Jan. 10 order. Dittrich admitted to four counts of misconduct occurring from 2008 to 2010, including failing to do the work he was hired to do and failing to safeguard unearned fees by placing them in a trust account. He knew he was suffering from depression and other health-related issues that interfered with his ability to attend to his clients’ needs.

After the verified complaint was filed, Dittrich made full refunds of unearned fees. He has violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.3: Failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness; 1.4(a)(3): Failure to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter; 1.4(a)(4): Failure to comply promptly with a client’s reasonable requests for information; 1.15(a): Failure to safeguard property of a client; 1.16(a)(2): Failure to withdraw from representation when the lawyer’s physical or mental condition materially impairs the lawyer’s ability to represent the client; 1.16(d): Failure to refund an unearned fee promptly upon termination of representation; and 3.2: Failure to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of a client.

The costs of the proceeding are processed against Dittrich. His suspension begins Feb. 15.

Diamond Z. Hirschauer, of Marion County, has been suspended indefinitely per a Jan. 10 Supreme Court order because more than six months have passed since Hirschauer was suspended due to noncooperation with the disciplinary process. The conversion to the indefinite suspension was effective the date of the order. To be readmitted to practice, Hirschauer must cure the causes of all suspensions in effect and successfully petition the Supreme Court for reinstatement.

Thomas N. Nuttle, of Elkhart County, has been suspended indefinitely per a Jan. 10 Supreme Cout order because more than six months have passed since he was suspended due to noncooperation with the disciplinary process. The conversion to the indefinite suspension was effective the date of the order. To be readmitted to practice, Nuttle must cure the causes of all suspensions in effect and successfully petition the Supreme Court for reinstatement.

Jon A. Criss, of St. Joseph County, has been suspended pendente lite from the practice of law, effective Jan. 10, per a Supreme Court order. Criss was found guilty of Class D felonies possession of methamphetamine and maintaining a common nuisance. The interim suspension shall continue until further order of the court or final resolution of any resulting disciplinary action, provided no other suspension is in effect.

Marla E. Muse, of Marion County, has been suspended for 180 days, with 30 days served and the remainder stayed subject to at least two years of probation, per a Jan. 11 Supreme Court order. Muse pleaded guilty in April 2012 to Class D felony possession of marijuana. She agreed with the Disciplinary Commission that she violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(b), which prohibits committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer.

She has entered into a voluntary monitoring agreement with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program. Muse’s suspension begins Feb. 15, and the costs of the proceeding are assessed against her.

Resignation
Olubunmi O. Okanlami, of St. Joseph County, has resigned from the bar, effective Jan. 10. Any disciplinary proceedings pending against Okanlami have been dismissed as moot. She is not eligible to petition for reinstatement to practice for five years. The costs of the proceeding are accessed against Okanlami.

Leonard M. Holajter, of Lake County, has resigned from the bar, effective Jan. 14. Any disciplinary proceedings pending against him are dismissed as moot. The costs of the proceeding are accessed against Holajter, and he is ineligible to petition for reinstatement for five years.•

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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