Misconduct complaint on AG ad

October 31, 2008
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With all the political ads showing on TV right now, it’s easy for us to tune them out. But one recent ad from the camp of Republican candidate for Attorney General Greg Zoeller has upset one Indianapolis criminal defense attorney so much that he’s reporting the ad to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.

Attorney Bob Hammerle recently sent Indiana Lawyer a letter to the editor about the ad that attacks Democratic AG nominee Linda Pence for her past service as a criminal defense attorney. For those who haven’t seen the ad, or perhaps tuned it out, the language in the ad seems to try to impact negatively upon Pence’s character because she’s represented criminals. I couldn’t find the ad online, either on Zoeller’s Web site or on YouTube.

We received the letter after our deadline for the issue prior to the election, but we decided to publish excerpts here because Hammerle brings up some interesting points:

“… To listen to Mr. Zoeller’s pernicious ads, one would conclude that there is something dishonorable in representing a person accused of a criminal act. Even worse, Mr. Zoeller blatantly suggests that a criminal defense lawyer is somehow personally tainted by the accusations made against his or her client. That is as absurd as it is preposterous, and again I am certain that Mr. Zoeller fully knows it,” wrote Hammerle.

“…Years ago when I began my own practice as a criminal defense attorney, the late Judge Andrew Jacobs Sr. hired me as a public defender. In doing so, he told me that despite the fact that I will frequently be meeting human beings who have done contemptible things, that I was to represent each one as if they were my best paying client. He reminded me that in doing so, everyone’s right to liberty is enhanced.”

“…In pandering to public misperceptions about his own profession, Mr. Zoeller unintentionally calls into question his own competence to serve as the leading lawyer of this State.”

Speaking with Hammerle this afternoon about the ad, he said he’s brought the ad to the attention of the Disciplinary Commission, citing Rules 8.3(a) and 8.4(d) of the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct. Hammerle said he’s upset that an ad endorsing one attorney – especially if the ad was approved by Zoeller – would openly denigrate another attorney. He said it’s not about political parties but disrespect from one attorney toward another.

Hammerle’s letter hits on an important point that the general public may not consider when it comes to accused criminals – they have the right to an attorney, whether they can pay for it themselves or tax dollars have to be used for public defenders. The ad endorsing Zoeller makes it seem like Pence, or criminal defense attorneys in general, are just as bad as the people they are defending. Being a criminal defense attorney may not be the most revered or positively viewed profession by the general public, but it’s a needed one.
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  1. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

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