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Supreme Court reprimands attorney for falsifying hours worked

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The Indiana Supreme Court has publicly reprimand an Indianapolis attorney accused of falsifying the time he spent working on cases in official claims for attorney fees.

Patrick Mulvany represented clients seeking judicial review of Social Security claims in federal court. Federal statute makes attorney fees available to clients who prevail in their cases, but over the course of several years Mulvany submitted applications for attorney fees that were not compliant with the statutory requirement, according to the Thursday order approving the statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline.

Specifically, the statute required attorney fees applications to reflect actual time expended, but Mulvany would submit nearly identical applications in each of his cases in which he assigned an hourly “worth” to the tasks he completed, regardless of the time he actually spent completing those tasks. Magistrate and district court judges repeatedly denied Mulvany’s attorney fees applications, and ordered, using “progressively stronger language,” that he track and report the actual time he spent working.

The issue came to a head in 2015 when, in responses to a Social Security Administration brief opposing a fee award, Mulvany filed an amended attorney fee affidavit that falsified the time he spent working on a particular case. The district court judge denied the application and ordered Mulvany to send a copy of the court’s order to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission. Additionally, Mulvany filed a report with the district court expression contrition and promising to “employ appropriate timekeeping practices,” according to the order.

The parties agreed Mulvany violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 3.3(a)(1) and 8.4(c), which prohibit knowingly making false statements and engaging in dishonest, fraudulent or deceitful conduct. The Supreme Court imposed a public reprimand as Mulvany’s discipline and assessed the costs of the proceeding against him.

Also on Thursday, the high court indefinitely suspended South Bend attorney Sven Marshall for failure to respond to a show cause order.

Marshall was ordered in March to show cause why he should not be suspended from the practice of law immediately for his failure to cooperate with the commission’s investigation into a grievance against him. Marshall did not respond to that order, nor to an April “Request for Ruling and to Tax Costs.”

Thus, the court suspended Marshall, effective immediately, until he cooperates with the disciplinary investigation or until further order of the court. Marshall was also ordered to reimburse the commission $513.24 for the costs of prosecuting the proceeding.

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  • You nailed it little royal
    Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?
  • I am not shocked
    Different rules for different folks....
    • You are the big problem
      Andrew, you are a whistleblower against an ideologically corrupt system that is also an old boys network ... Including old gals .... You are a huge threat to them. Thieves, liars, miscreants they understand, identify with, coddle. But whistleblowers must go to the stake. Burn well my friend, burn brightly, tyger.
    • Bogus
      VSB dismissed the reciprocal discipline based on what Indiana did to me. Here we have an attorney actually breaking ethical rules, dishonest behavior, and only getting a reprimand. I advocated that this supreme court stop discriminating against me and others based on disability, and I am SUSPENDED 180 days. Time to take out the checkbook and stop the arrogant cheating to hurt me and retaliate against my good faith efforts to stop the discrimination of this Court. www.andrewstraw.org www.andrewstraw.net

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      1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

      2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

      3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

      4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

      5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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