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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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