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. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues