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Disciplinary Actions - 8/18

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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
Curtis E. Shirley of Marion County is suspended form the practice of law in Indiana for 30 days beginning Sept. 17, 2010, according to an Aug. 5, 2010, Supreme Court order approving statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline. He will be automatically reinstated at the end of the suspension period if there are no other suspensions then in effect.

Shirley violated Ind. Prof. Cond. R. 1.5(a); 1.7(a)(1) and (2); 1.13(b), (f), and (g); and 1.16(a)(1). Justice Boehm did not participate in this case.

A certain “corporation” is owned and controlled by members of a large family. The matriarch of the family is elderly and incapacitated. Her son “AB” controlled the day-to-day operations of the business. There are six other siblings with interests in the corporation. In 2001, AB consulted with Shirley about voting control of the corporation and related matters. Thereafter, AB, with the advice and assistance of Shirley, took various actions to obtain and exercise sole control of the corporation, including obtaining his mother’s signature on stock transfers, removing his siblings from the corporation’s board of directors, terminating two siblings from employment with the corporation, and defending against suits brought against him by his siblings. This occurred during a period of several years, during which Shirley purported to represent the interests of both AB and the corporation.

Shirley collected “substantial attorney fees” from the corporation. He agreed the fees were unreasonable because he did not obtain the knowing consent of necessary principals of the corporation to his simultaneous representation, and the corporation paid for a considerable amount of legal work that most likely accrued to AB’s sole benefit. The corporation filed suit against AB and Shirley to recover the fees paid to Shirley; the suit was settled with a confidential agreement for an undisclosed amount.

There were no aggravating factors. Mitigating facts were Shirley has no prior discipline; he has an extensive history of public service, including representing many clients pro bono; and the corporation recovered a satisfactory amount of the attorney fees paid to him.

“From the beginning of Respondent’s involvement with the Corporation, it should have been apparent that AB’s personal interests were at very least potentially adverse to those of the Corporation,” the court wrote. The court also noted the discipline would have been more severe had the matter been submitted without an agreement.

Richard S. Tebik of Lake County was suspended from the practice of law in Indiana Dec. 17, 2009, for failing to cooperate with the Disciplinary Commission regarding a grievance filed against him. The suspension has been converted to an indefinite suspension for continued noncooperation with the disciplinary process, according to an Aug. 4, 2010, Supreme Court order. To be readmitted to the practice of law in Indiana, Tebik must petition the Supreme Court for reinstatement.

Ronald J. Freund of Madison County was suspended from the practice of law in Indiana Dec. 22, 2009, for failing to cooperate with the Disciplinary Commission regarding a grievance filed against him. The suspension has been converted to an indefinite suspension for continued noncooperation with the disciplinary process, according to an Aug. 4, 2010, Supreme Court order. To be readmitted to the practice of law in Indiana, Freund must petition the Supreme Court for reinstatement.

Samuel L. Bolinger of Allen County is suspended from the practice of law in Indiana for 30 days beginning Sept. 10, 2010, according to a Supreme Court order approving statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline. At the conclusion of the suspension – if there are no other suspensions in effect – he shall be automatically reinstated to the practice of law.

The court noted the discipline it would impose would likely have been more severe had the matter been submitted without an agreement; however, the court wrote it desires to “foster agreed resolutions of lawyer disciplinary cases.” All the justices concurred except Chief Justice Shepard and Justice Boehm, who dissented because they believed the discipline to be inadequate.

Bolinger violated Ind. Prof. Cond. R. 8.4(c).

Bolinger represented a plaintiff in a civil action in which discovery issues arose. He told the client of the necessity of responding to the discovery requests, often in face-to-face meetings, according to court documents. Bolinger documented these discussions with informal notes. Eventually the court entered a default judgment against the client as a sanction for his failure to comply with a motion to compel discovery. When the client accused Bolinger of failing to respond to discovery requests, Bolinger told his secretary to prepare a series of backdated letters to the client to reflect his earlier advice to the client to respond to the discovery requests. The letters falsely conveyed that they were mailed on prior dates. The letters were sent to the client but never used in any court proceeding.

Mitigating factors are Bolinger has no prior discipline, he cooperated with the commission, and his conduct caused no direct harm to the client.

Patrick G. Boulac of St. Joseph County is suspended pendente lite from the practice of law in Indiana upon notice of a guilty finding, effective with the Aug. 2, 2010, Supreme Court order.

Boulac was found guilty of resisting law enforcement, a Class D felony. The suspension shall continue until further order of the Supreme Court or final resolution of any resulting disciplinary action, provided no other suspension is in effect.

The court noted he is already suspended under a different cause, No. 71S00-0701-DI-45, effective Jan. 5, 2010.

Ernest M. Beal Jr. of Allen County is suspended pendente lite from the practice of law in Indiana upon notice of a guilty finding, effective with the Aug. 2, 2010, Supreme Court order.

Beal was found guilty of theft, a Class D felony. The suspension shall continue until further order of the Supreme Court or final resolution of any resulting disciplinary action, provided no other suspension is in effect.

The court noted he is already suspended for failure to pay inactive dues, effective June 8, 2010.

Ronald D. Gifford of Marshall County is suspended pendente lite from the practice of law in Indiana upon notice of a guilty finding, effective with the Aug. 2, 2010, Supreme Court order.

Gifford was found guilty of theft, a Class D felony. The suspension shall continue until further order of the Supreme Court or final resolution of any resulting disciplinary action, provided no other suspension is in effect.

The court noted he is already suspended under a different cause, No. 50S00-0806-DI-310, effective Nov. 14, 2008.

Ronald D. Harris of Clark County is suspended from the practice of law in Indiana effective with the Aug. 2, 2010, Supreme Court order imposing reciprocal discipline.

Harris, who was admitted to practice law in Indiana and Kentucky, was found by the state of Kentucky to have violated that jurisdiction’s rules of professional conduct and was suspended for 61 days. He did not respond to an Indiana Supreme Court order to show cause why he shouldn’t receive reciprocal discipline.

The court noted he is already suspended in Indiana in a different cause, No. 10S00-0811-DI-606, effective March 3, 2009. He also is already under another suspension in Kentucky as well.

If Harris is reinstated to practice in Kentucky, he may file for reinstatement in Indiana provided there is no other suspension order in effect.

Mark A. Ryan of Howard County is suspended from the practice of law in Indiana, effective with the Aug. 2, 2010, Supreme Court order for failure to cooperate with the Disciplinary Commission’s investigation of a grievance filed against him.

The suspension shall continue until the executive secretary of the Disciplinary Commission certifies to the Supreme Court that Ryan has cooperated fully with the investigation, the investigation or any related disciplinary proceedings that may arise from the investigation are disposed, or until further order of the Supreme Court. He also is ordered to reimburse the commission $521.72 for the costs of prosecuting this proceeding.•

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  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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