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Disciplinary Actions - 10/12/11

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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.

Suspension
James S. Dal Santo of Lake County has been suspended from the practice of law in Indiana for a period of 180 days, beginning Nov. 1, with 60 days actively served and the remainder stayed subject to completion of 18 months of probation. The suspension was made in a Supreme Court order issued Sept. 19, 2011. Dal Santo admitted numerous trust account violations from 2005 to 2009, which included writing checks that did not clear due to insufficient funds, allowing the balance to become negative, writing checks to “cash,” using trust funds for personal expenses and failure to keep proper records of his trust account. Dal Santo violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.15(a) by failing to safeguard property of clients, treating client funds as his own, and failing to maintain and preserve complete client trust account fund records; Rule 8.4(b), which prohibits committing a criminal act of conversion that reflects adversely on the lawyers honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer; Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 23(29)(a)(3-5) by failing to maintain and preserve trust fund records, comingling of trust funds with other attorney or firm money and making withdrawals from a trust account without written authorization or making withdrawals from those accounts by checks payable to “cash.” All justices concurred, except Justice Steven David who would reject the conditional agreement, believing the discipline is insufficient in light of the admitted misconduct.

Everett E. Powell, II of Marion County has been suspended from the practice of law in Indiana for a period of not less than 120 days, without automatic reinstatement, beginning Nov. 11. A per curiam order from the Supreme Court Sept. 29, 2011, concluded that Powell violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.5(a) by collecting a clearly unreasonable and exploitive fee from a vulnerable client. In 2004, Powell consulted with a woman and her boyfriend about access to a trust holding money she obtained from a settlement of a personal injury action. The woman had a history of drug and alcohol abuse and claimed to be in an abusive and controlling relationship, and another attorney declined to give her access to the trust account. She went to Powell, who agreed to a contingency fee of one-third of whatever was in the trust. As soon as he became successor trustee, Powell deposited a check that was intended to pay for medical bills into the trust and paid himself $14,815.55 as his fee. He gave the client nearly $30,000 and the remaining funds stayed in the account until bank fees depleted them.

Barbara L. Barkas of Marion County has been suspended from the practice of law, effective immediately, for noncooperation with the disciplinary commission in an investigation of a grievance filed against her. The suspension was issued by the Supreme Court Sept. 29, 2011. Barkas was already suspended for CLE noncompliance, effective June 20.

Stuart K. Baggerly of Monroe County has been suspended from the practice of law in Indiana for a period of 30 days, beginning Nov. 11, with automatic reinstatement. The Supreme Court issued the suspension in an order filed Sept. 30, 2011. A father retained Baggerly in 1998 to represent him and his daughters in seeking damages for injuries they sustained in a car accident. After Baggerly negotiated a settlement on the three claims, he lost or misplaced a $5,000 check he received in 2000 for one of the daughters and, during the next 10 to 11 years, failed to respond to the clients’ repeated requests for the money. A disciplinary action filed in June 2011 led to Baggerly paying the clients $8,000 by cashier’s check. Baggerly admitted to violating Rule 1.1: failure to provide competent representation; Rule 1.3: failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness; 1.4(a): failure to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and respond promptly to reasonable requests for information; 1.15(a): failure to hold property of clients properly in trust; and 1.15(d): failure to deliver promptly to a client funds that person is entitled to receive.

Olubunmi O. Okanlami of St. Joseph County received an interim suspension from the Supreme Court on Oct. 6, 2011, effective 15 days from the date of the order and until further order from the court or a final resolution of any resulting disciplinary matter. The suspension comes after Okanlami was found guilty of felony battery and residential entry stemming from an incident in December 2010.

Resignation
Janet B. Mallett of Marion County has resigned from the bar, effective immediately by a Supreme Court order issued Sept. 19, 2011, pursuant to Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 23(17). The pending disciplinary action against her is dismissed as moot, and she will be ineligible to petition for reinstatement for five years according to Admission and Discipline Rule 23(4)(a).

Action Dismissed
Jacob A. Atanga of Marion County has had one disciplinary action dismissed by the Supreme Court. Atanga was suspended Aug. 19 for noncooperation with the disciplinary commission’s investigation of a grievance filed against him, and on Sept. 19, 2011, the commission filed a certificate of compliance stating that Atanga has cooperated with the investigation and that his suspension in this case should be revoked. Suspensions ordered in one or more other disciplinary actions remain in effect. He will not be listed as reinstated until all causes for suspension are cured.

Deborah D. Kubley of Monroe County has had one disciplinary action dismissed by the Supreme Court. She was suspended Dec. 27, 2010, for noncooperation with the disciplinary commission’s investigation of a grievance filed against her, and on Sept. 19 the commission filed a certificate of compliance stating that Kubley has now cooperated with the investigation and that her suspension in this case should be revoked. Suspensions ordered in one or more other disciplinary actions remain in effect. She will not be listed as reinstated until all causes for suspension are cured.

Contempt of Court
John L. Peak of Monroe County has been fined $500 in contempt of court for practicing law while suspended. The Supreme Court issued an order Sept. 30, 2011. The disciplinary commission asserted that Peak appeared in court March 29 on behalf of a client and again on June 28, following his June 2010 suspension for CLE noncompliance and dues nonpayment.•

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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

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