Dishing out the discipline

June 4, 2008
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share





Written by guest blogger Michael Hoskins, Indiana Lawyer reporter:





Disciplinary actions can be like a legal newspaper's police crime blotter – attorneys say that's what the legal community flips to first to see if anyone they know is in the news. There have been some notable ones lately that warrant an extra look:

-         Geoffrey N. Fieger: The Indiana Supreme Court banned the Michigan attorney from taking new cases here for two years. This is newsworthy now because the Hoosier court's action came as a federal trial involving Fieger was wrapping up in Detroit. Fieger and his law partner were on trial for illegal campaign contributions to presidential candidate John Edwards’ campaign in 2004. A jury acquitted both on Monday, more than a week after the Indiana Supreme Court made its decision. At least one Indiana justice wanted the punishment to be permanent, but majority ruled. Would a conviction led to a different result in Indiana?







-         Bloomington attorney David J. Colman lost his license for at least three years because of multiple misconduct counts. Three justices opted for that punishment, though the chief justice and another justice wanted disbarment because this is the lawyer’s fourth disciplinary proceeding since being admitted to the practice in 1970. They pointed out that previously they’d voted to reinstate him, but this latest misconduct was too much.





There have been others, but these two examples beg the question: Does our Indiana system of legal discipline warrant a closer look? Are judges and lawyers able to fairly, objectively, consistently, and effectively discipline themselves? How does the Hoosier disciplinary system rate? What stands out for or against it?  
ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. Bill Satterlee is, indeed, a true jazz aficionado. Part of my legal career was spent as an associate attorney with Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans in Valparaiso. Bill was instrumental (no pun intended) in introducing me to jazz music, thereby fostering my love for this genre. We would, occasionally, travel to Chicago on weekends and sit in on some outstanding jazz sessions at Andy's on Hubbard Street. Had it not been for Bill's love of jazz music, I never would have had the good fortune of hearing it played live at Andy's. And, most likely, I might never have begun listening to it as much as I do. Thanks, Bill.

  2. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  3. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  4. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  5. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

ADVERTISEMENT