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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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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