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Judges order court to take second look at restitution attorney must pay

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A Monroe County attorney who pleaded guilty to Class D felony counterfeiting and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution to a victim may not have to pay that full amount after the Indiana Court of Appeals Wednesday ordered the trial court to take another look at the restitution amount.

Bloomington attorney Philip H. Chamberlain was charged with five Class C felonies stemming from his involvement in the development of a golf course in Orleans, Ind., for which he was a consultant. The golf course was owned by Dwight Hart.

Chamberlain convinced acquaintance Shannon Ramey and his girlfriend Helen Fields, who own Dorothy Apartment Rentals, to invest money on behalf of their company into the golf course. Unbeknownst to Ramey, Fields or Hart, Chamberlain was cashing checks made out to the golf course and kept a portion of the money.

At one point, Hart loaned Chamberlain $5,000 for performing work as a consultant, money he never repaid.

At his sentencing and restitution hearing, Chamberlain explained he repaid Hart $25,500 before any criminal charges were filed against him. The trial court ordered him to pay Hart $15,000 in restitution, which included the $5,000 for the unpaid loan.

Chamberlain, pro se, appealed, claiming the loan shouldn’t be included in restitution because his counterfeiting conviction didn’t cover that incident. The Court of Appeals agreed in the not-for-publication opinion, Philip H. Chamberlain v. State of Indiana, 53A01-1305-CR-247.

“But because we do not have the transcript from Chamberlain’s guilty-plea hearing, we cannot consult the factual basis for his counterfeiting conviction to see what written instrument it covered. Without this information, we cannot determine the amount of restitution, if any, Hart is entitled to after taking into account that Chamberlain has already paid Hart $25,500. We must therefore remand this case to the trial court for it to determine the amount of restitution, if any, Hart is entitled to for the counterfeiting conviction only, taking into consideration Chamberlain’s $25,500 payment to Hart,” the appellate court ruled.  

Chamberlain received an interim suspension June 2013 pending final resolution of any resulting disciplinary action.

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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