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Supreme Court suspends attorney for misrepresentation, domestic battery

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The Indiana Supreme Court has suspended from practice a Chicago attorney who misrepresented his abilities to a client and was convicted of battery against his wife.

In the disciplinary case of In the Matter of: Narles W. Coleman, 98S00-1301-DI-52, a client was charged with Class C felony child molestation and, shortly thereafter, received a letter from attorney Narles Coleman seeking to represent the client for a “reasonable fee.” According to the Indiana Supreme Court’s per curiam opinion issued Tuesday, Coleman falsely told the client he was associated with The Cochran Firm of Johnnie Cochran fame.

In reality, Coleman had minimal experience in criminal law and no experience in child molesting cases, the unanimous court wrote.  The client paid Coleman part of a flat fee of $4,000, but then began having trouble communicating with Coleman. The attorney failed to appear at a pretrial conference, deceived the client into signing a new fee agreement for $200 an hour, and agreed to a plea agreement without consulting his client, even though the client had previously said he would not enter a plea agreement and, thus, refused to sign.

After the client fired him, Coleman did not withdraw his representation or forward a copy of the case file to the client’s new counsel until a show cause proceeding was initiated against him.  After the criminal charge was eventually dismissed, Coleman sent the client a bill for more than $9,000, predicated on the new fee agreement and filed a civil suit to collect the money.

Further, Coleman sought to collect additional money for time spent and expenses incurred in connection with withdrawing from the case and filing the civil suit. At a deposition of a witness that Coleman named, he failed to reveal that the witness was his wife.

Then in October 2012, Coleman was charged with felony and misdemeanor counts of domestic battery stemming from allegations that he hit his wife in the presence of four children. He was convicted of Class A misdemeanor domestic battery in July 2013 and the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission filed a complaint against him one year later.

After a hearing officer’s report was filed in September 2016, the Indiana Supreme Court found Tuesday that Coleman was in violation of 20 Indiana Professional Conduct Rules, including failing to provide competent representation; making an agreement for, charging, or collecting an unreasonable fee; and engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Although Coleman’s misconduct was mostly limited to the client’s case, the court found that such misconduct was “wide-ranging, pervasive, retaliatory, and deceptive at multiple junctures.”

“Respondent’s systemic malfeasance in connection with his representation of Client, his criminal conduct, and his less-than-effective self–representation during most of these disciplinary proceedings reflect exceedingly poorly on his fitness to practice law,” the court wrote in its per curiam opinion.

The court noted that Coleman is already under an order of suspension for dues nonpayment and failing to fulfill CLE requirements. His misconduct led to an additional two-year suspension without automatic reinstatement. In order to be reinstated, Coleman must prove his remorse, rehabilitation and fitness to practice. The costs of the proceedings are assessed against him.
 

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  1. File under the Sociology of Hoosier Discipline ... “We will be answering the complaint in due course and defending against the commission’s allegations,” said Indianapolis attorney Don Lundberg, who’s representing Hudson in her disciplinary case. FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW ... Lundberg ran the statist attorney disciplinary machinery in Indy for decades, and is now the "go to guy" for those who can afford him .... the ultimate insider for the well-to-do and/or connected who find themselves in the crosshairs. It would appear that this former prosecutor knows how the game is played in Circle City ... and is sacrificing accordingly. See more on that here ... http://www.theindianalawyer.com/supreme-court-reprimands-attorney-for-falsifying-hours-worked/PARAMS/article/43757 Legal sociologists could have a field day here ... I wonder why such things are never studied? Is a sacrifice to the well connected former regulators a de facto bribe? Such questions, if probed, could bring about a more just world, a more equal playing field, less Stalinist governance. All of the things that our preambles tell us to value could be advanced if only sunshine reached into such dark worlds. As a great jurist once wrote: "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." Other People's Money—and How Bankers Use It (1914). Ah, but I am certifiable, according to the Indiana authorities, according to the ISC it can be read, for believing such trite things and for advancing such unwanted thoughts. As a great albeit fictional and broken resistance leaders once wrote: "I am the dead." Winston Smith Let us all be dead to the idea of maintaining a patently unjust legal order.

  2. The Department of Education still has over $100 million of ITT Education Services money in the form of $100+ million Letters of Credit. That money was supposed to be used by The DOE to help students. The DOE did nothing to help students. The DOE essentially stole the money from ITT Tech and still has the money. The trustee should be going after the DOE to get the money back for people who are owed that money, including shareholders.

  3. Do you know who the sponsor of the last-minute amendment was?

  4. Law firms of over 50 don't deliver good value, thats what this survey really tells you. Anybody that has seen what they bill for compared to what they deliver knows that already, however.

  5. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

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