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Lawyer disbarred for client altercation, numerous violations

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A criminal defense lawyer accused of instigating a physical altercation with a former client at the City-County Building in Indianapolis and committing numerous rules violations has been disbarred.

Steven B. Geller had to be restrained by guards after accosting a former client he believed owed him money at the courthouse in Indianapolis. He yelled at the ex-client, "I'll f***ing kill you!", according to the Indiana Supreme Court order of disbarment in In the Matter of: Steven B. Geller, 49S00-1106-DI-318.

"The Court concludes that (Geller) violated the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct by multiple acts of misconduct, including dishonesty to a court and to the (Disciplinary) Commission, improper ex parte communication with a judge, improper communication with a represented party, pervasive neglect of vulnerable clients, disorderly conduct in a judicial facility, and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice," the 15-page per curiam order says.

Justices approved disbarment in a 4-1 decision. Justice Mark Massa concurred in part and dissented in part and would have imposed a three-year suspension without automatic reinstatement.

Geller had been suspended for one year in 2000 for threatening to reveal a client’s conviction for child molesting to fellow inmates in retaliation when the client threatened to file a grievance, the court noted, along with three financial violations.

“The Court notes [Geller’s] history of misconduct, his unsuccessful prior attempt at rehabilitation, his inability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his current misconduct (except admitting "losing it" in Count 1), and his confrontational attitude toward those involved in the disciplinary process,” the order reads.

“Of particular concern is (Geller’s) continued inability to manage his anger, his attempts to blame others, including his own clients, for his misconduct, and his dishonesty toward a court and the Commission. Under these circumstances, the Court concludes that disbarment is warranted.”

The court found Geller violated a dozen Rules of Professional Conduct. They are:

-- 1.3: Failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness;
-- 1.4(a)(3): Failure to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter;
-- 1.4(a)(4): Failure to comply promptly with a client's reasonable requests for information;
-- 1.4(b): Failure to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit a client to make informed decisions;
-- 1.5(b): Failing to communicate the scope of the lawyer's representation and the basis or rate of the fee for which a client will be responsible;
-- 1.16(d): After the termination of representation, failure to protect a client's interests, failure to refund an unearned fee, and failure promptly to return to a client case file materials to which the client is entitled;
-- 3.3(a)(1): Knowingly making a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal;
-- 3.5(b): Engaging in an improper ex parte communication with a judge;
-- 4.2: Improperly communicating with a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter;
-- 8.1(a): Knowingly making a false statement of material fact to the Disciplinary Commission in connection with a disciplinary matter;
-- 8.4(b): Committing a criminal act (disorderly conduct) that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer; and
-- 8.4(d): Engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Separately, Geller was criminally charged in March 2013 with five counts of Class D felony tax evasion for failing to file Indiana individual or business income tax returns for the years 2007 through 2011.

According to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Geller is due in Marion Superior Criminal Court 25 for a pretrial conference on May 29. His trial date is currently set for June 10.

Geller was admitted to practice in 1989.

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  1. A traditional parade of attorneys? Really Evansville? Y'all need to get out more. When is the traditional parade of notaries? Nurses? Sanitation workers? Pole dancers? I gotta wonder, do throngs of admiring citizens gather to laud these marching servants of the constitution? "Show us your billing records!!!" Hoping some video gets posted. Ours is not a narcissistic profession by any chance, is it? Nah .....

  2. My previous comment not an aside at court. I agree with smith. Good call. Just thought posting here a bit on the if it bleeds it leads side. Most attorneys need to think of last lines of story above.

  3. Hello everyone I'm Gina and I'm here for the exact same thing you are. I have the wonderful joy of waking up every morning to my heart being pulled out and sheer terror of what DCS is going to Throw at me and my family today.Let me start from the !bebeginning.My daughter lost all rights to her 3beautiful children due to Severe mental issues she no longer lives in our state and has cut all ties.DCS led her to belive that once she done signed over her right the babies would be with their family. We have faught screamed begged and anything else we could possibly due I hired a lawyer five grand down the drain.You know all I want is my babies home.I've done everything they have even asked me to do.Now their saying I can't see my grandchildren cause I'M on a prescription for paipain.I have a very rare blood disease it causes cellulitis a form of blood poisoning to stay dormant in my tissues and nervous system it also causes a ,blood clotting disorder.even with the two blood thinners I'm on I still Continue to develop them them also.DCS knows about my illness and still they refuse to let me see my grandchildren. I Love and miss them so much Please can anyone help Us my grandchildren and I they should be worrying about what toy there going to play with but instead there worrying about if there ever coming home again.THANK YOU DCS FOR ALL YOU'VE DONE. ( And if anyone at all has any ideals or knows who can help. Please contact (765)960~5096.only serious callers

  4. He must be a Rethuglican, for if from the other side of the aisle such acts would be merely personal and thus not something that attaches to his professional life. AND ... gotta love this ... oh, and on top of talking dirty on the phone, he also, as an aside, guess we should mention, might be important, not sure, but .... "In addition to these allegations, Keaton was accused of failing to file an appeal after he collected advance payment from a client seeking to challenge a ruling that the client repay benefits because of unreported income." rimshot

  5. I am not a fan of some of the 8.4 discipline we have seen for private conduct-- but this was so egregious and abusive and had so many points of bad conduct relates to the law and the lawyer's status as a lawyer that it is clearly a proper and just disbarment. A truly despicable account of bad acts showing unfit character to practice law. I applaud the outcome.

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