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Disciplinary Actions - 7/7

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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
Timothy A. Doyle of Marion County is suspended from the practice of law in Indiana for 60 days with automatic reinstatement, effective Aug. 6, 2010, according to a June 25, 2010, Supreme Court order approving statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline.

All justices concurred except Justice Dickson who dissented, believing that reinstatement should not be automatic.

He violated Ind. Prof. Cond. R. 1.4(a)(3) and (4); 1.16(d); and 8.1(b).

The Disciplinary Commission’s complaint is in four counts, all of which charge Doyle with failing to respond in a timely manner to the commission’s requests for information about grievances filed against him. In all four cases, he responded only after the Supreme Court entered an order directing him to show cause why he shouldn’t be suspended immediately for failure to cooperate with the commission.

Three of the counts allege – and Doyle admits according to court documents – that after being retained by clients, he failed to respond to the clients’ repeated requests for information about their cases. In one case, he failed to inform the client of a hearing, and in another case he failed to return a $1,250 unearned fee until the client filed a grievance against him.

No mitigating facts were cited. An aggravating fact was his prior agreed public reprimand in 2007 for two counts of misconduct involving neglect of clients’ cases See Matter of Doyle, 878 N.E. 2d 202 (Ind. 2007).

“The discipline the Court would impose for Respondent’s misconduct would likely be more severe had this matter been submitted without an agreement, especially in light of his recent discipline for similar conduct,” wrote the court, noting its desire to foster agreed resolutions of lawyer disciplinary cases.

John P. Seib of Marion County is suspended from the practice of law in Indiana for 180 days, all stayed, subject to completion of 30 months probation, according to a June 24, 2010, Supreme Court order approving statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline.

Terms and conditions of probation include that Seib will meet all requirements of his monitoring agreement with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program and shall not violate the law or Rules of Professional Conduct during probation. If he violates probation, the commission will petition to revoke his probation and ask that he serve the stayed suspension without automatic reinstatement, and that he be reinstated only through the procedures of Admis. and Disc. R. 23(4) and (18).

He violated Ind. Prof. Cond. R. 8.4(b).

Police officers responding to a 911 call Nov. 29, 2008, overheard a loud argument inside a residence involving Seib. After an investigation at the scene, the officers advised Seib that he was under arrest. He resisted being handcuffed. Pursuant to a plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor resisting law enforcement, and other charges were dismissed.

On Jan. 15, 2010, while this disciplinary action was pending, Seib was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a Class A misdemeanor. He pleaded guilty to this charge March 17, 2010.

Seib self-reported his arrests to the Disciplinary Commission, has cooperated with the commission, and had no disciplinary history.

Augustus Mendenhall of Hendricks County has been suspended pendente lite from the practice of law in Indiana, effective 15 days from the June 21, 2010, Supreme Court order for his interim suspension.

Chief Justice Shepard and Justices Rucker and Dickson concurred. Justices Boehm and Sullivan did not participate in this case.

The Disciplinary Commission filed an emergency petition for suspension pending further order of the Supreme Court or final resolution of any resulting disciplinary actions because of “alleged misconduct that may cause Respondent’s continued practice of law during the pendency of a disciplinary investigation or proceeding to post a substantial threat of harm to the public, clients, potential clients, or the administration of justice,” the court wrote.

Mendenhall waived his right to contest the petition.Judgment for respondent
Jack Rogers of Johnson County was found by the Supreme Court not to have engaged in professional misconduct, according to June 21, 2010, judgment in Rogers’ favor.

The Disciplinary Commission alleged Rogers violated Ind. Prof. Cond. R. 3.3(a)(1).

While representing a criminal defendant at a suppression hearing, Rogers cited a Court of Appeals opinion that had been vacated and replaced by a Supreme Court decision. The case was Trimble v. State, 816 N.E.2d 83 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004), vacated, 842 N.E.2d 798 (2006). The hearing officer found Rogers to be credible when he testified that he had not knowingly cited incorrect law and did not intend to mislead the trial court. The hearing officer concluded the commission failed to produce clear and convincing evidence that Rogers violated the rule and recommended the court enter judgment in respondent’s favor. The commission did not file a petition for review.
Public reprimands
Thomas J. Broderick of Madison County was publicly reprimanded for violating Ind. Prof. Cond. R. 4.1(a) and 8.4(d), according to a June 25, 2010, Supreme Court order.

In 2001, Broderick’s then-19-year-old son was charged with battery in Florida. Broderick wrote to the Florida prosecutor requesting deferral of prosecution, to which the prosecutor agreed.

In October 2003, Broderick’s son was arrested in Delaware County and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Broderick, representing his son, discussed with the prosecutor and the deferral program administrator the possibility of resolving the case without a criminal conviction. Based on the information presented, the administrator determined the son was eligible for a deferral. Broderick did not disclose his son’s arrest in Florida, but he was asked no question that would have required him to disclose it.

Broderick and his son later met with the deferral program administrator to review the terms of the three-page deferral agreement. The agreement contained the false statement that the defendant had no prior arrests. Broderick was unaware of the statement because he did not read the agreement before he and his son signed it, relying instead – Broderick asserted – on the administrator’s summary of the agreement and his familiarity with deferral agreements in Madison County, which in his experience did not contain such a statement.

“It is undisputed that Respondent did not actually know the Agreement contained a false statement of fact. The Commission argues that an intentional choice to remain ignorant of a likely falsehood in a document can rise to a level of a ‘knowing’ misrepresentation. In the particular circumstances of this case, we agree,” wrote the court.

It also noted Broderick’s experience as a lawyer made him aware of the relevance of a defendant’s prior record in a criminal case and who knew his son’s Florida arrest had not been disclosed. Broderick “chose not to read a short document containing the essential terms of his son’s probation. Respondent therefore knew that he didn’t know what representations he was making. He is responsible for any errors,” the court continued.

The justices did note Broderick’s more than 30 years as a lawyer.

Daniel R. Carroll of Marion County was publicly reprimanded for violating Ind. Prof. Cond. R. 1.3; and 1.4(a)(3) and (4), according to a June 24, 2010, Supreme Court order approving statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline.

Carroll represented clients in an action asserting claims related to fire restoration work provided to the defendants. He then failed to respond to a motion to strike certain defendants from the case, failed to notify clients in a timely manner when the court granted the motion, failed to respond to the majority of clients’ requests for information, and eventually withdrew from the case.

The parties cited no aggravator factors. Mitigating facts are his lack of disciplinary history and his cooperation with the Disciplinary Commission.•
 

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