Discipline inconsistencies

September 21, 2010
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An Indiana attorney’s discipline case is making national news to show the disparity in discipline around the country involving substance abuse.

The National Law Journal’s Sept. 20 article on discipline for substance-abusing attorneys compares the case of Peter Katic – a northern Indiana attorney who appeared in court drunk, and in a separate matter pleaded guilty to Class C misdemeanor OWI – to cases involving attorneys from Florida, Iowa, and New Hampshire.

Katic, who had two prior disciplinary actions while he was a judge, was suspended for 180 days but that suspension was stayed to probation as long as he meets all the requirements of his monitoring agreement with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program.

The New Hampshire attorney, who admitted he was an alcoholic, was disbarred after taking a case that he failed to pursue. He also hid from his client that the case had been dismissed. The Iowa attorney, who also described himself as an alcohol abuser, took a client’s money and abandoned a divorce case. His license was suspended. The Florida attorney was disbarred after he pleaded guilty to a 2004 drug-trafficking charge. The attorney had been drug and alcohol free for six years at that point.

A case could be made based on these examples for more transparency and uniformity across the country in discipline cases. This could also be said for our state.

What are your thoughts on discipline here and around the country? Are we too tough or lenient on our attorneys and should we have more uniform discipline?

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  • Apples and Oranges
    It strikes me that your are comparing apples and oranges. The charges against the Iowa, Florida, and New Hampshire attorneys went beyond substance abuse and seem much more serious than the charge against the Indiana lawyer. These examples do not prove that Indiana is too lenient.

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