ILNews

Split court chooses suspension, not disbarment

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The Indiana Supreme Court today suspended a Bloomington attorney for at least three years, though the chief justice and another justice wanted disbarment because this is the lawyer's fourth disciplinary proceeding since being admitted in 1970.

The disciplinary decision came in the form of an 11-page per curiam opinion, In the Matter of David J. Colman, No 53S00-0607-DI-248. The court found that Colman engaged in attorney misconduct in several estate planning tasks: by participating in preparation of a will for a non-relative that would have given him or his son a substantial gift; by representing a client when there was a conflict of interest due to Colman's personal interests; by failing to hold property of a client separate from his own; by failing to keep a client's funds in a clearly identified trust account; by entering into an improper business transaction with a client; and by charging an unreasonable fee.

For the misconduct charges, the court suspended Colman for at least three years starting July 1, but Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justice Brent Dickson dissented as to the sanctions in separate opinions.

Both noted that Colman's pattern of misconduct shows a more serious sanction is warranted, since he had been readmitted in the past following a "very substantial federal tax evasion, a federal felony conviction, and an 18-month suspension" of his law license.

"It is difficult to imagine that any future expressions of remorse about these actions could be persuasive, such that readmission might occur," the chief justice wrote. "And, it is hard to fashion an argument for the public that Respondent's behavior has been such that we might at some future date want, again, to tell clients they can entrust their own dearest matters to him. I thus vote to disbar."

Justice Dickson noted that when Colman was convicted of a federal tax evasion felony in 1996, he was part of the unanimous vote on the court not to disbar the attorney but to suspend him for a substantial time before he was eventually reinstated in 1999.

"On reflection, I should have, but did not, dissent to these per curiam decisions," Justice Dickson wrote. "I choose, however, not to make the same mistake a third time, and agree with Chief Justice Shepard that the respondent should be disbarred for his misconduct."
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  1. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  2. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

  3. This outbreak illustrates the absurdity of the extreme positions taken by today's liberalism, specifically individualism and the modern cult of endless personal "freedom." Ebola reminds us that at some point the person's own "freedom" to do this and that comes into contact with the needs of the common good and "freedom" must be curtailed. This is not rocket science, except, today there is nonstop propaganda elevating individual preferences over the common good, so some pundits have a hard time fathoming the obvious necessity of quarantine in some situations....or even NATIONAL BORDERS...propagandists have also amazingly used this as another chance to accuse Western nations of "racism" which is preposterous and offensive. So one the one hand the idolatry of individualism has to stop and on the other hand facts people don't like that intersect with race-- remain facts nonetheless. People who respond to facts over propaganda do better in the long run. We call it Truth. Sometimes it seems hard to find.

  4. It would be hard not to feel the Kramers' anguish. But Catholic Charities, by definition, performed due diligence and held to the statutory standard of care. No good can come from punishing them for doing their duty. Should Indiana wish to change its laws regarding adoption agreements and or putative fathers, the place for that is the legislature and can only apply to future cases. We do not apply new laws to past actions, as the Kramers seem intent on doing, to no helpful end.

  5. I am saddened to hear about the loss of Zeff Weiss. He was an outstanding member of the Indianapolis legal community. My thoughts are with his family.

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