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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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