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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 His probation was revoked for violations by order dated May 3, 2006, and the Supreme Court suspended him for six months without automatic reinstatement effective June 12, 2006.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. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  2. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

  3. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. Far too many people are sentenced for far too many years in prison. Many of the federal prisoners are sentenced for marijuana violations. Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

  4. My daughter was married less than a week and her new hubbys picture was on tv for drugs and now I havent't seen my granddaughters since st patricks day. when my daughter left her marriage from her childrens Father she lived with me with my grand daughters and that was ok but I called her on the new hubby who is in jail and said didn't want this around my grandkids not unreasonable request and I get shut out for her mistake

  5. From the perspective of a practicing attorney, it sounds like this masters degree in law for non-attorneys will be useless to anyone who gets it. "However, Ted Waggoner, chair of the ISBA’s Legal Education Conclave, sees the potential for the degree program to actually help attorneys do their jobs better. He pointed to his practice at Peterson Waggoner & Perkins LLP in Rochester and how some clients ask their attorneys to do work, such as filling out insurance forms, that they could do themselves. Waggoner believes the individuals with the legal master’s degrees could do the routine, mundane business thus freeing the lawyers to do the substantive legal work." That is simply insulting to suggest that someone with a masters degree would work in a role that is subpar to even an administrative assistant. Even someone with just a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies would be overqualified to sit around helping clients fill out forms. Anyone who has a business background that they think would be enhanced by having a legal background will just go to law school, or get an MBA (which typically includes a business law class that gives a generic, broad overview of legal concepts). No business-savvy person would ever seriously consider this ridiculous master of law for non-lawyers degree. It reeks of desperation. The only people I see getting it are the ones who did not get into law school, who see the degree as something to add to their transcript in hopes of getting into a JD program down the road.

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