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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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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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