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Failure to report

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The arm of the Indiana Supreme Court that enforces rules governing the admission and discipline of lawyers has been in violation of one of those rules for several years.

The Disciplinary Commission hasn’t produced an annual report in recent years, Supreme Court spokewoman Kathryn Dolan confirmed. The last annual report posted on the commission’s website as of IL deadline was from fiscal year 2009-2010.

“The reports weren’t put online because they’re not ready yet,” Dolan said. “We’re not trying to make a statement about why, it just wasn’t done. It was an oversight.”

Admission and Discipline Rule 23(23) states, “The commission shall make an annual report of its activities to the Supreme Court and the Indiana State Bar Association. The report shall include a statement of income and expenses for the year.”

While the commission didn’t meet the requirements of the rule, Dolan said financial information for those years was provided to the court, but not the state bar. She said the financial information was provided to the bar last week after the error was discovered.

The commission derives its revenue almost exclusively from a portion of the licensing fees attorneys are required to pay to retain their bar status.

According to financial information provided by Dolan, the commission had more money in the bank in the 2012-2013 fiscal year than in any previous year – an opening fund balance of $1,606,403. The commission budgeted collecting about $2 million in fees and spending about $2.3 million. Employee salaries, benefits and associated costs consumed about $1.9 million of the budget.

The information projected the commission would carry over an opening balance of about $1.45 million into the current fiscal year.

Disciplinary Commission executive director Michael Witte did not respond to messages seeking comment about the absence of annual reports.

Indiana State Bar Association President Dan Vinovich said the association received financial information from the commission last week. “Once it was determined those reports needed to be filed, they have now been filed,” he said.

Vinovich said the annual report was a “technical requirement and not a significant problem or concern of ours.” He noted the state bar receives advance notice of attorney suspensions, for instance, and updates on court functions from the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and Office of the Attorney General at annual meetings and other forums.

Officers in local bar associations who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity said the commission’s failure to file annual reports was disappointing.

“Is it catastrophic? No,” said an officer of one of the state’s largest county bar associations. But the problem is one of perception of the commission: “They expect everyone to follow the rules. They should do the same.”

An attorney in southern Indiana who holds a county bar leadership post agreed. “I’m surprised,” the commission neglected to file reports for thee years, the officer said. “They should do that.”

But the local bar officers said most attorneys in their communities had a generally positive view of the commission’s work and that local bar groups usually are well informed of disciplinary actions or matters affecting local attorneys.

“I think (lawyers) are respectful of the commission and the responsibility they have,” the southern Indiana bar officer said.

“I would say attorneys as a whole view the Disciplinary Commission as doing a good job,” said the large-county bar official. “Perhaps the commission needs to work on some transparency issues. I think that’s what we all should be striving for.”

The work of the commission has been included in the annual reports prepared by the Supreme Court, but that section in the court’s most recent report for fiscal year 2011-2012 contains no financial information. The commission reported 66 final orders in discipline cases. A total of 34 verified complaints for disciplinary action were initiated that fiscal year, 29 less than the prior year.

Commission chairwoman Catherine Nestrick said a new case management system implemented to better track cases resulted in the delay in completing annual reports.

“As with many software implementations, we had a number of issues to work through and this caused a delay in the preparation and publication of the 2009-2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 annual reports,” Nestrick said in an email. She noted the 2009-2010 report was only this summer reconciled with the new system and posted online.

“The remaining reports are in the process of being finalized and we expect them to be available very soon,” she said. Dolan said the reports will be posted online when they are completed.•

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  • Not just about me ...
    I am not admitted in Indiana and will not be since i am a whistleblower, and so I can say these things. I doubt KS will punch my ticket just because Indiana asks for me to be disbarred, we have a little thing called rule of law for attorneys in Kansas . ... a concept that I hope Indiana gets around to one fine day. Anyway, consider the above and then consider that the DC likely routinely investigates and punishes Indiana attorneys for failure to respond to clients and courts. Hypocrite much?
  • Even more irony!
    As I chew on this the taste becomes even more bitter! I was a Dept AG for 4 years in Kansas, serving the most conservative AG in that state's history. We took on Planned Parenthood, which should not be done lightly. They hit back very hard and very personally. Anyway, for 4 years I was under a statutory demand that I report to the state legislature and governor each year. It was onerous, and often kept me up all night and in the office all weekend, but I got it done each year. And yet, even though I so served with distinction, never was disciplined, and was in good standing in Kansas, deemed admittable anywhere by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, cleared on character and fitness by Missouri the year before, and admitted to the Seventh Circuit and ND Ind fed court after .... the Indiana BLE, using a DC attorney, denied me entrance and denied me the right to even petition again for five years .... and then they went years and years without even filing their statutorily mandated reports, the lack of filing being such an act that should forfeit their right to hold the office entrusted to them by the operation of the state constitution! IRONIC!
  • Oh the irony!
    In the 31 page report issued against me to join the Indiana bar, which addresses my worldview and religious perspective on governance while containing not one citation to law, not even a recitation of the relevant standards, I was faulted, among other reasons to deny my bid to become licensed (despite having been licensed in Kansas since 96 without discipline) and to order me to not apply again for five years, I was faulted, even verbally reprimanded (by a DC attorney) for being about one month tardy on telling the Bar Examiners that I have been laid off from non legal work. (I actually did not realize I had such a duty, since I was subject to recall.) One month. Yet this is the standard that they keep themselves? So sad for Indiana, so sad for the rule of law. More on my "processing" through this system here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/23961843/Brown-v-Bowman-complaint-12-09 and here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/109518279/Brownv-ind-S-ct-BoardLawExams Oral argument before the 7th circuit here: http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/sound/2011/migrated.orig.11-2164_10_20_2011.mp3
  • Additional Point
    I would add that the fact those bar officials requested anonymity for their criticism of the DC for failing to timely file reports speaks volumes. They are undoubtedly concerned about retaliation for daring to criticize the Commission. But if the DC is not being operated in a political fashion in which critics of the Commission are targeted, then what do these officials have to worry about having their name exposed? Their own conduct undercuts the claim that they and people in their county bar associations believe that the Commission is being run properly.
  • Attorneys View of the DC
    Those bar officials who are quoted saying that attorneys are generally happy with how the Commission has operated are telling huge fibs and I guarantee you they know it. I have been an attorney for 26 years and I have heard a torrent of criticism about how the Commission has operated under Lundberg and Witte. They complain that the DC does not enforce the rules evenly, that political considerations enter the Commission's decision to target certain attorneys, that the DC goes after small firm attorneys and sole practitioners almost exclusively, that the DC operates as a virtual Star Chamber via its use of secrecy. The board of the DC appears to be little more than a rubber stamp for whatever the Executive Secretary wants to do. My time as an attorney has spanned the Lundberg and Witte eras and I have yet to hear one attorney speak positively of how the DC has been operated under them. On the other hand, I have heard positive things about how it ran under Shelden Breskow, Lundberg's predecessor.
  • ?????
    BS

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    1. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) End of Year Report 2014. (page 13) Under the current system many local registering agencies are challenged just keeping up with registration paperwork. It takes an hour or more to process each registrant, the majority of whom are low risk offenders. As a result law enforcement cannot monitor higher risk offenders more intensively in the community due to the sheer numbers on the registry. Some of the consequences of lengthy and unnecessary registration requirements actually destabilize the life’s of registrants and those -such as families- whose lives are often substantially impacted. Such consequences are thought to raise levels of known risk factors while providing no discernible benefit in terms of community safety. The full report is available online at. http://www.casomb.org/index.cfm?pid=231 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs United States of America. The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350 The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483 Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the Internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates. The full report is available online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483 These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. People, including the media and other organizations should not rely on and reiterate the statements and opinions of the legislators or other people as to the need for these laws because of the high recidivism rates and the high risk offenders pose to the public which simply is not true and is pure hyperbole and fiction. They should rely on facts and data collected and submitted in reports from the leading authorities and credible experts in the fields such as the following. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 0.8% (page 30) The full report is available online at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/2014_Outcome_Evaluation_Report_7-6-2015.pdf California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) (page 38) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 1.8% The full report is available online at. http://www.google.com/url?sa= t&source=web&cd=1&ved= 0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F% 2Fwww.cdcr.ca.gov%2FAdult_ Research_Branch%2FResearch_ documents%2FOutcome_ evaluation_Report_2013.pdf&ei= C9dSVePNF8HfoATX-IBo&usg=AFQjCNE9I6ueHz-o2mZUnuxLPTyiRdjDsQ Bureau of Justice Statistics 5 PERCENT OF SEX OFFENDERS REARRESTED FOR ANOTHER SEX CRIME WITHIN 3 YEARS OF PRISON RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C. Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013 Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy. A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7% Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009. The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment of a new sex crime is extremely low. Findings: sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05% Link to Report: http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pdf Once again, These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so. Megan’s law is a failure and is destroying families and their children’s lives and is costing tax payers millions upon millions of dollars. The following is just one example of the estimated cost just to implement SORNA which many states refused to do. From Justice Policy Institute. Estimated cost to implement SORNA Here are some of the estimates made in 2009 expressed in 2014 current dollars: California, $66M; Florida, $34M; Illinois, $24M; New York, $35M; Pennsylvania, $22M; Texas, $44M. In 2014 dollars, Virginia’s estimate for implementation was $14M, and the annual operating cost after that would be $10M. For the US, the total is $547M. That’s over half a billion dollars – every year – for something that doesn’t work. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08-08_FAC_SORNACosts_JJ.pdf. Attempting to use under-reporting to justify the existence of the registry is another myth, or a lie. This is another form of misinformation perpetrated by those who either have a fiduciary interest in continuing the unconstitutional treatment of a disfavored group or are seeking to justify their need for punishment for people who have already paid for their crime by loss of their freedom through incarceration and are now attempting to reenter society as honest citizens. When this information is placed into the public’s attention by naive media then you have to wonder if the media also falls into one of these two groups that are not truly interested in reporting the truth. Both of these groups of people that have that type of mentality can be classified as vigilantes, bullies, or sociopaths, and are responsible for the destruction of our constitutional values and the erosion of personal freedoms in this country. I think the media or other organizations need to do a in depth investigation into the false assumptions and false data that has been used to further these laws and to research all the collateral damages being caused by these laws and the unconstitutional injustices that are occurring across the country. They should include these injustices in their report so the public can be better informed on what is truly happening in this country on this subject. Thank you for your time.

    2. Freedom as granted in the Constitution cannot be summarily disallowed without Due Process. Unable to to to the gym, church, bowling alley? What is this 1984 level nonsense? Congrats to Brian for having the courage to say that this was enough! and Congrats to the ACLU on the win!

    3. America's hyper-phobia about convicted sex offenders must end! Politicians must stop pandering to knee-jerk public hysteria. And the public needs to learn the facts. Research by the California Sex Offender Management Board as shown a recidivism rate for convicted sex offenders of less than 1%. Less than 1%! Furthermore, research shows that by year 17 after their conviction, a convicted sex offender is no more likely to commit a new sex offense than any other member of the public. Put away your torches and pitchforks. Get the facts. Stop hysteria.

    4. He was convicted 23 years ago. How old was he then? He probably was a juvenile. People do stupid things, especially before their brain is fully developed. Why are we continuing to punish him in 2016? If he hasn't re-offended by now, it's very, very unlikely he ever will. He paid for his mistake sufficiently. Let him live his life in peace.

    5. This year, Notre Dame actually enrolled an equal amount of male and female students.

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