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Disciplinary Actions - 9/1

September 1, 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.

Private reprimand
In the Matter of: Anonymous, the Indiana Supreme Court privately reprimanded a Delaware County attorney for violating Ind. Prof. Cond. R. 1.9(c)(2), according to an Aug. 27, 2010, per curiam opinion.

The attorney represented an organization that employed “AB,” which is how the attorney became acquainted with her. AB and her husband were involved in an altercation, police were called, and her husband claimed AB threatened to harm him. A month later AB called the attorney, told her about the allegation, and that she had separated from her husband. In a second phone call later that month, AB asked the attorney for a referral to a family law attorney, which included the name of an attorney in the respondent’s firm.

AB retained that attorney and filed a divorce petition; the couple later reconciled and AB requested the petition be dismissed, which ended the firm’s representation of her.

When socializing with friends after this, one of which was also a friend of AB, the respondent told them about AB’s filing for divorce and her husband’s accusation. The respondent didn’t know AB had reconciled with her husband. The attorney also encouraged AB’s friend to contact AB because she was concerned. When AB learned what the attorney had said, she filed a grievance.

In mitigation, the attorney has no disciplinary history and was cooperative with the Disciplinary Commission. There were no aggravating factors.

The respondent argued to the hearing officer that AB initially gave her the information at issue to seek personal rather than professional advice, so the information wasn’t confidential and her later relationship with the firm didn’t change its nature. But the information was disclosed not long before the second phone call in which AB wanted an attorney referral, and she became at prospective client under Rule 1.18, which required confidentiality.

It also doesn’t matter that AB told this same information to some of her co-workers or that the information at issue could be discovered by searching various public records and the Internet, the court noted.

“True, the filing of a divorce petition is a matter of public record, but Respondent revealed highly sensitive details of accusations AB’s husband made against her to the police. There is no evidence that this information was contained in any public record,” the justices wrote. “An attorney has a duty to prospective, current, and former clients to scrupulously avoid revelation of such information, even if, as may have been the case here, the attorney is motivated by personal concern for the client.”•

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  1. 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...

  2. 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

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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