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Justices suspend 2 attorneys, concerned whether one is fit to practice

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The Indiana Supreme Court issued two disciplinary opinions Wednesday, including a decision in which the justices suspended an Indianapolis attorney for at least 18 months, citing his “serious deficiencies in representing clients and himself.”

The Disciplinary Commission brought charges against Patrick Stern based on three lawsuits he filed that involved D.R., an elderly woman who owned a condemned building in Indianapolis and was worried about financial liability; J.S., allegedly D.R.’s common law husband; and J.H. a convicted murderer who worked in Stern’s office as a “contract paralegal.”

Stern represented D.R. in her complaint against the city challenging its order that her building be demolished. He drafted a quitclaim deed by which D.R. transferred the building to J.H., which resulted in both of them being jointly and severally responsible for demolition and administrative costs. Stern also represented D.R. in another lawsuit seeking damages for trespass and destroying her property after the building was torn down. He represented J.H. and J.S. in their federal lawsuit against the director of Metropolitan Development for the city of Indianapolis. Stern lost the last two cases, with the courts citing his failure to state a claim, among other reasons.

In In the Matter of: Patrick H. Stern, 49S00-1205-DI-255 , the justices found Stern violated seven rules of Professional Conduct stemming from his use of J.H. as a paralegal, misconduct in the three lawsuits and misconduct during the Disciplinary Commission’s investigation.

Stern has a pattern of misconduct and instead of accepting responsibility for his actions, blamed the judges in the lawsuit, the Disciplinary Commission, and others, the per curiam opinion states. He also has shown no insight into his misconduct. The justices noted Stern showed a lack of basic competence in representing himself – his responses were difficult to understand, riddled with grammatical errors, and he often gave incomplete, inaccurate or incomprehensible responses.  

“In light of his serious deficiencies in representing clients and himself and his refusal to acknowledge any misconduct on his part, the Court has grave concerns about Respondent's current fitness to represent clients in the practice of law. We therefore conclude that Respondent should be suspended from practice and undergo a reinstatement proceeding before resuming practice,” the justices ruled, imposing at least an 18-month suspension, beginning Aug. 13.

Justice Steven David dissented with regard to the discipline, believing it is insufficient.

The justices also suspended Hamilton County attorney, Steve Brejensky, for at least a year based on a Class A misdemeanor conversion conviction for taking a bag of mulch from a gas station. Brejensky, who is now listed on the Roll of Attorneys as practicing in Queens, N.Y., never appealed his conviction, but argued in his “late, nonconforming answer” to the Disciplinary Commission that he was wrongly accused of taking the mulch, according to the per curiam opinion, In the Matter of: Steve L. Brejensky, 29S00-1205-DI-277.

The Supreme Court cited in aggravation that Brejenski failed to keep his address on the Roll of Attorneys current, he answered the Disciplinary Commission’s complaint only after the hearing officer ordered him to do so, he failed to comply with deadlines, and the contents of his answer show a lack of remorse for and a lack of insight into the nature of his wrongful conduct.

Brejenski did not report his conviction to the Disciplinary Commission. He also has a disciplinary history, which includes noncooperation with the commission.  The justices found he violated two rules of the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct.

“Given the seriousness of Respondent's misconduct and the substantial facts in aggravation, the Court concludes that Respondent should be suspended for at least one year, after which he may be reinstated only after proving his remorse, rehabilitation, and fitness to practice law,” the opinion states.

The costs of the proceedings are assessed against Stern and Brejenski.




 

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  • Contract Paralegals
    Among other things Stern was sanctioned for using contract paralegals and exposing them to confidential information. Yes, that's a violation. Now it's time to sanction the collection firms who use collection agency employees to draft complaints for the attorney's rubber stamp signature. It's time to sanction the prosecuting attorneys who allow the use of their signatures and letterhead by collection agencies in corporate welfare bad check programs.

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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