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. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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