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Disciplinary Actions - 12/7/11

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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
Richard Loiseau, of Orlando, Fla., has been suspended from the practice of law for not less than 90 days, without automatic reinstatement, beginning Dec. 29, 2011, according to a Nov. 22 order from the Indiana Supreme Court. The court found Loiseau committed misconduct when handling an immigration case for a client who was later ordered to be deported. The court found the attorney failed to appear in court, lied in an affidavit about how he represented the client in court and later made a different statement during the disciplinary proceedings against him. Misconduct also occurred when the lawyer represented the same client’s husband in an asylum and deportation case in which Loiseau didn’t tell the immigration judge about the wife’s pending asylum proceeding before a different judge. Loiseau violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.3 by failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness when he failed to appear for two hearings; Rule 1.4(a)(3) when he failed to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter; 3.3(a)(1) on knowingly making a false statement to a tribunal; and Rule 8.4(c) that prohibits an attorney from knowingly engaging in dishonest, fraudulent or deceitful conduct. The court found no mitigators but cited Loiseau’s past public reprimand from 2002, that he engaged in a pattern of dishonesty and that he’s not remorseful or willing to accept responsibility.

James A. Earhart, of Louisville, Ky., has been suspended from the practice of law for 30 days, beginning Dec. 29, 2011. A Nov. 22 order from the Indiana Supreme Court imposed the sanction because of a client fee arrangement Earhart made in 2008. The lawyer was retained and paid $10,000 to represent a client against anticipated criminal charges. Earhart sent a letter confirming receipt of that initial, non-refundable fee and wrote that an additional fee in the same amount would be charged to represent the client through trial if charges were filed. The client killed himself a few days later, and despite performing no more than five hours of work, Earhart refused to refund the unearned portion of the amount to the client’s widow. The court found the client’s death so soon after retaining Earhart “clearly rendered at least a portion of the client’s $10,000 payment unearned.” Although the attorney refunded the full fee after this grievance was filed, the court didn’t find that to be a mitigating factor. It found his lack of disciplinary history is a mitigator. Earhart violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.5(a) on charging an unreasonable fee and Rule 1.16(d) on failing to refund an unearned fee upon termination of representation.

Public reprimand
Sean P. Hilgendorf, of St. Joseph County, received a public reprimand from the Indiana Supreme Court Nov. 17, 2011. The court accepted a conditional agreement for discipline and found Hilgendorf committed misconduct by refusing to refund a $1,300 fee after a client informed him he had hired other counsel in a criminal case.

In that 2008 case, the lawyer refused to refund any of the fee until after the hearing officer set a final hearing date on this disciplinary matter. In 2009, Hilgendorf failed to notify a client about a Court of Appeals decision until after the deadline to file a rehearing petition. In a letter he stated no further appellate procedures were possible. The lawyer later found a previous letter that was dated a day after the appellate decision that had been misaddressed to the client and returned. The court found no aggravators and looked to a lack of disciplinary history, his cooperation and no intent to be dishonest. He violated 1.4(a)(3) on failing to keep a client reasonably informed; 1.4(b) on failure to explain a matter reasonably for a client to make a decision; and 1.16(d) on failure to refund any unearned portion of a fee after the representation ends.•
 

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  1. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

  2. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

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  4. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  5. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

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