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Disciplinary Actions - 9/14/11

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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.

Reinstatement
Anna E. Fulkerson of Noble County was reinstated as a member of the Indiana bar in a Supreme Court order filed Aug. 24, 2011. Fulkerson was suspended on Sept. 14, 2009, without automatic reinstatement. Her reinstatement was subject to the following conditions: (1) successful completion of probation of at least two years on terms to be determined by JLAP, consistent with the hearing officer’s recommendations; (2) she has no violations of the terms set by JLAP, the law, or the Rules of Professional Conduct during the probation period; and (3) if she violates her probation, the commission may petition the court to revoke her probation and to re-impose the suspension without automatic reinstatement. Probation remains in effect until terminated pursuant to Admission and Discipline Rule 23(17.1).

Suspension
Todd E. Wallsmith of Knox County has been suspended from the practice of law in a Supreme Court order filed Aug. 19, 2011. Wallsmith is suspended for a period of 180 days, beginning Sept. 30, with 45 days actively served and the remainder stayed subject to completion of 24 months of probation with mental health treatment and JLAP monitoring. Wallsmith violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.2(a): Failure to abide by a client’s decisions concerning the objectives of representation; 1.3: Failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness; 1.7(a): Representing a client when the representation is directly adverse to another client; and 3.3(a)(1): Knowingly making a false statement of fact to a tribunal and failing to correct a false statement of material fact previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer.

Timothy D. Freeman of Marion County has been suspended from the practice of law for noncooperation with the disciplinary commission. The suspension, provided in an order filed Aug. 19, 2011, was effective immediately. Pursuant to Admission and Discipline Rule 23(10)(f)(3), the suspension will continue until: (1) the executive secretary of the disciplinary commission certifies to the court that Freeman has cooperated fully with the investigation; (2) the investigation or any disciplinary proceedings arising from the investigation are disposed of; or (3) until further order of the court, provided no other suspensions are in effect. Freeman was already under a suspension order that became effective July 19, 2011.

Jacob A. Atanga of Marion County has been suspended from the practice of law for noncooperation with the disciplinary commission. The suspension, provided in an order filed Aug. 19, 2011, was effective immediately. Pursuant to Admission and Discipline Rule 23(10)(f)(3), the suspension will continue until: (1) the executive secretary of the disciplinary commission certifies to the court that Freeman has cooperated fully with the investigation; (2) the investigation or any disciplinary proceedings arising from the investigation are disposed of; or (3) until further order of the court, provided no other suspensions are in effect.

Bruce J. Goldberg of Floyd County has been suspended from the practice of law in a Supreme Court order filed Aug. 24, 2011. Goldberg is suspended for a period of 90 days, beginning Sept. 16, with 30 days actively served and the remainder stayed subject to completion of two years of probation. Goldberg was found to have violated Indiana Admission and Discipline Rules 23(29)(a)(2) and (3): Failure to maintain proper records for trust account activities; 23(29)(a)(4): Failure to deposit funds received on behalf of clients intact; 23(29)(a)(5): Making withdrawals from a trust account without written withdrawal authorization stating the amount and purpose of the withdrawal and the payee; and Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.15(a): Failure to hold property of clients properly in trust, failure to hold property of clients separate from lawyer’s own property, failure to safeguard client funds, and failure to maintain complete records of client trust account funds. While the court said the terms of probation will include correction of all trust account errors, trust account monitoring, and a designated number of CLE hours on trust account and law office management, it did note that nothing in the complaint or conditional agreement suggests that any client funds were lost due to Goldberg’s misconduct.

Kjell P. Engebretsen of Boone County has been suspended from the practice of law for noncooperation with the disciplinary commission. The suspension, provided in an order filed Sept. 2, 2011, was effective immediately. Pursuant to Admission and Discipline Rule 23(10)(f)(3), the suspension will continue until: (1) the executive secretary of the disciplinary commission certifies to the court that Freeman has cooperated fully with the investigation; (2) the investigation or any disciplinary proceedings arising from the investigation are disposed of; or (3) until further order of the court, provided no other suspensions are in effect. Engebretsen was already under a suspension order that became effective March 19, 2011.

Edward A. B. Castaldo of Hamilton County has been suspended from the practice of law for a period of not less than 90 days, effective immediately. The suspension, provided in a Supreme Court order filed Sept. 2, 2011, revoked Castaldo’s probation ordered by the court in 2009 and imposed suspension that had been stayed pending the lawyer’s completion of a 24-month probationary period with specified requirements. According to the Sept. 2 order, Castaldo materially violated the terms of the JLAP monitoring agreement and failed to attend a trust account management course, as previously ordered. He was already under a suspension order that became effective June 20, 2011.

Public reprimand
Danny L. Whitten and Stacey E. Whitten of Porter County received a public reprimand in a Supreme Court order filed Aug. 19, 2011. Both published an advertisement promoting themselves as “specializing in bankruptcy relief” when neither had been certified as a specialist by an independent certifying organization accredited by the Indiana Commission for Continuing Legal Education. This was in violation of Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 7.4(d) (formerly Rule 7.2(c)(4))•

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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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