ILNews

Lawyer privately reprimanded for hiring inmate

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The Indiana Supreme Court handed down a private reprimand to a Shelby County attorney who engaged in misconduct by hiring a nonlawyer inmate to help research and prepare a post-conviction relief petition for another client.

The attorney had been assigned by the State Public Defender as an independent contractor in 1998 to represent an incarcerated client in a PCR proceeding. That client consented to the attorney entering into an agreement with a nonlawyer inmate in the same facility to help with the PCR petition as an independent legal assistant. The attorney agreed to represent the nonlawyer inmate in his own PCR proceeding.

The nonlawyer inmate had limited access to communication and research materials and no expectation of privacy. The attorney wasn’t able to supervise the inmate or ensure he would be able to comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Even though the events took place more than 10 years ago, a verified complaint wasn’t filed until 2008.

The justices found in a per curiam opinion, In the matter of: Anonymous, No. 73S00-0812-DI-626, that the attorney violated Professional Conduct Rule 5.3. The Disciplinary Commission and attorney submitted a conditional agreement for discipline suggesting a private reprimand. The justices agreed to the discipline, but noted that it would impose more severe discipline if there wasn’t an agreement.

The justices also took into account that the misconduct happened more than 10 years ago and that the attorney’s record in nearly 30 years of practice is otherwise unblemished.
 

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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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