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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. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

    2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

    3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

    4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

    5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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