ILNews

Disciplinary Actions - 11/9/11

IL Staff
November 9, 2011
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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
Patrick V. Baker of Marion County has been suspended from the practice of law in Indiana for a period of not less than six months, without automatic reinstatement, beginning Nov. 25, 2011. An order from the Indiana Supreme Court Oct. 21, 2011, approved a statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline and found Baker violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.4(b) failure to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit a client to make an informed decision; 1.5(a) making an agreement for, charging or collecting an unreasonable amount for expenses; 3.4(e) alluding to any matter in trial that the lawyer doesn’t reasonably believe will be supported by admissible evidence; 4.1(a) knowingly making a false statement of material fact or law to a third person in the course of representing a client; and 7.3(a) improperly soliciting employment in person from a person with whom the lawyer has no prior relationship when a significant motive is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain. Baker in 2006 visited an incarcerated man who’d been indicted for murder and agreed to represent him pro bono, despite a public defender already being appointed. Baker made opening statements about the police investigation that were false and the court found he should have known the evidence wouldn’t support the statements. After the man was found guilty and sentenced to 65 years, Baker agreed to represent him pro bono on appeal. The lawyer told the man’s mother the trial court would pay the copying and filing costs, even though he hadn’t requested funds from the court. He also gave the man’s mother briefs that weren’t properly file-stamped or had grammatical errors, and Baker convinced the mother to pay $1,500 to cover the copying and filing costs. The parties found aggravating factors: Baker’s misconduct was motivated by selfishness because he expected publicity from the case would lead to an increase in business; that he victimized three vulnerable people involved in the case; and Baker made multiple ethical violations and demonstrated a gross disregard for the professional conduct rules.

Suspension Terminated
Jacob A. Atanga of Marion County had his suspension from the practice of law for failure to cooperate in a disciplinary case terminated by the Supreme Court, as of Oct. 21, 2011. He was suspended in August for non-cooperation.

Deborah D. Kubley of Monroe County had her suspension from the practice of law for failure to cooperate in a disciplinary case terminated by the Supreme Court, as of Oct. 17, 2011. She was suspended in December 2010 for noncooperation.•
 

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  2. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  3. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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