Dishing out the discipline

June 4, 2008
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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?  
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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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