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Disciplinary Actions - 11/10/10

November 10, 2010
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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.

Suspensions
Debra Lee Fannin Hill a/k/a Debra Fannin Graham has been suspended indefinitely from the practice of law in Indiana effective Oct. 25, 2010, according to a Supreme Court order imposing reciprocal discipline. Hill is admitted to practice law in Indiana and Tennessee, and was disbarred by the Supreme Court of Tennessee June 16, 2010. Hill was already suspended in Indiana pursuant to an order of reciprocal discipline dated Dec. 10, 2009, based on a July 8, 2009, order of suspension by the Supreme Court of Tennessee.

Steven F. Fillenwarth of Marion County has had his effective date of suspension postponed, according to a Supreme Court order Nov. 4. The Supreme Court ordered his suspension to begin Nov. 12, but Fillenwarth filed a motion to postpone until Jan. 17, 2011, to allow him to complete his current tour of duty in Iraq with the Army JAG Corps. The justices granted the motion and postponed his suspension until Jan. 17. Justice Steven David did not participate in the case.

Reinstatement
Thomas W. Belleperche of Allen County has been conditionally reinstated as a member of the Indiana bar subject to the terms and conditions of probation stated in an Oct. 25, 2010, order from the Supreme Court. Belleperche had been suspended for six months on Sept. 27, 2005, all stayed, subject to probation of at least 24 months. His probation was revoked for violations by order dated May 3, 2006, and the Supreme Court suspended him for six months without automatic reinstatement effective June 12, 2006. Belleperche filed a petition for reinstatement Jan. 6, 2010, and on Sept. 20, 2010, the Disciplinary Commission filed its recommendation that he be reinstated to the practice of law conditioned on certain terms of probation.

Belleperche will be reinstated subject to successful completion of probation of at least three years on terms to be determined by JLAP consistent with the hearing officer’s recommendations; he shall have no violations of the terms set by JLAP, the law, or the Rules of Professional Conduct during his probation; and if he violates his probation the commission may petition the Supreme Court to revoke his probation and to re-impose his suspension without automatic reinstatement. •

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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