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. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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