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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. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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