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Justices disbar attorney

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The Indiana Supreme Court chose to disbar a Marion County attorney due to his pattern of neglect in clients’ cases.

In a per curiam opinion handed down today, In the Matter of William J. Rawls, No. 49S00-0908-DI-355, the justices found William J. Rawls violated numerous Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct, including 1.3, failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness; and 8.4(b), committing a criminal act (forgery) that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer.

Rawls’ disbarment pertains to six instances involving separate clients. He often lied to clients, failed to return money, and failed to file appearances on behalf of his clients. In one case, Rawls forged his client’s signature on a purported refund receipt.

Rawls, who was admitted in 1985, has a history of discipline, including a prior suspension for misconduct in 2002. His other disciplinary actions involved CLE noncompliance, dues nonpayment, and noncooperation with the Disciplinary Commission.

“Respondent has demonstrated a pattern of neglect of his clients' cases, resulting in adverse dispositions, suspension of one client's driver's license, a missed opportunity to settle, and undue delay,” the opinion states. “Respondent made a series of intentional misrepresentations to the Commission during its investigations of grievances. Respondent created a fraudulent receipt, criminally forged a client's name on it, and submitted it to the Commission, acting as an agency of this Court, with the intent of deceiving the Commission. We therefore conclude that Respondent should be disbarred.”

His disbarment is effective Dec. 27.
 

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  • Long time coming
    I knew this attorney from way back when he was teaching school in the Perry Twshp School systems in Indianapolis. I first used his services right after my father died in 1997 as he was a very good friend of my father's. I thought I could trust him. In the beginning, all was good, but after about 3 months, I would call to follow up on issues pertaining to my brother who was estranged from the family, Mr. Rawls did not bother to call back or have his staff call me back. For almost two years my father's situation was left in probate. I had to hire another attorney (my mom's attorney) to fix all of the errors and undoings while my mother was then dying of pancreatic cancer. By this time I was so furious with my deceased father for leaving no will and using an inept attorney (because he was my dad's attorney and friend) that I wanted to dig him up out of his grave and kill him myself for leaving me with this nightmare (LOL)...only to wind up lassoing my mom's attorney to fix Mr. Rawls' mess. If I had known then what I know now, I would have started proceedings about this back then. I didn't. I had a colicky new baby born 2 weeks after my father passed and it was just too much to handle. Also, because he was my dad's friend, I thought maybe he was going through some personal issues at the time. Now, I know....not only did he mess me up, his negligence messed up many others as well. I am indeed sorry for that.
  • better decision
    I think this is a good decision and a better use of the disciplinary commission's time than policing whether or not a lawyer can call someone sweet or not.
  • One down, many more to go
    Its about time, but why is he disbarred beginning Dec. 27th? In the mean time, I guess one lawyer to another, they are making sure he can reap all he can in the next 6 weeks. They are all alike. Best legal system money can buy. I guess that is why he stopped doing things for those clients, they must have had shallow pockets.

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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