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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. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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