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Supreme Court disbars Indianapolis attorney

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An Indianapolis lawyer who engaged in repeated and serious acts of attorney misconduct involving multiple clients has been disbarred.

In a five-page disciplinary order today In the Matter of Kimberly O. Powell, No. 49S00-0803-DI-127, the Indiana Supreme Court disbarred Kimberly O. Powell who had 16 misconduct counts lodged against her for conduct between 2003 to 2007.

The high court suspended her in March for not cooperating with the Disciplinary Commission's investigation, which involved the following misconduct charges: failing to take action in cases; failing to keep clients informed about the status of their cases; failing to respond to clients' requests for information; accepting a settlement without the client's approval; giving clients erroneous legal advice; failing to appear at hearings; missing deadlines; failing to properly handle, use, account for, and/or refund money paid to her by clients; charging unreasonable fees; failing to reduce contingent fee agreements to writing; misrepresenting the extent of her professional experience; and making false statements to the commission during its investigation.

In describing some of the misconduct, the court noted that Powell falsely told a client she had substantial experience with federal drug possession cases, charged him a $5,000 initial fee, refused to refund a $2,000 partial payment after being discharged, and attempted to charge an additional $3,100 despite having done no substantial work on the case.

Other examples cited by the court included an unemployment compensation matter and child support claims, and an Illinois murder case where she never appeared in court in that state and declined to refund a $10,000 "engagement fee" paid by the client's parents before she advised them their son should surrender to police without consulting the client.

In addition to the 16 counts of violating Indiana Professional Conduct Rules, she also violated the Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule regarding clients' funds by failing to keep them in a clearly identified trust account.

"In light of Respondent's multiple acts of serious professional misconduct, we conclude that Respondent must be given the strongest sanction possible," the court wrote, disbarring her immediately and ordering her name be stricken from the roll of attorneys.

According to the Supreme Court's roll of attorneys, Powell was admitted to practice in May 2003. She could not be reached at the phone number listed.

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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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