The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission brings charges against attorneys who have violated the state’s rules for admission to the bar and Rules of Professional Conduct. The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications brings charges against judges, judicial officers, or judicial candidates for misconduct. Details of attorneys’ and judges’ actions for which they are being disciplined by the Supreme Court will be included unless they are not a matter of public record under the court’s rules.
Harlan L. Vondersaar, of Hendricks County, has had his conditional admission revoked because he practiced law while suspended, per an Oct. 1, Supreme Court order.
Vondersaar was admitted in May 2011 based on a consent agreement that required, among other things, that he refrain from the use of alcohol, have no arrest for a criminal offense, and have “no alcohol related incidents” for three years. Less than five months later, Vondersaar was arrested for, and later pleaded guilty to, operating a vehicle while intoxicated. His blood alcohol content was 0.31 at the time of his arrest.
He was suspended for 90 days, but the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission later sought permanent revocation of his conditional admission or show cause as to why he shouldn’t be held in contempt. The commission says Vondersaar continued to practice during his suspension, which he admits.
“Respondent has been given repeated opportunities to conform his behavior to the standards required of those seeking admission to our bar but has failed to meet those standards. Accordingly, the Court finds that Respondent’s conditional admission to practice law in Indiana should be revoked,” Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote in the order.
Vondersaar’s license has been immediately revoked, and he shall not submit an application for admission to the bar for 18 months.
Christopher T. Smith, of Hancock County, has been suspended for 90 days – stayed subject to completion of probation – following his guilty plea to Class D felony operating while intoxicated with minor passenger, per an Oct. 1 Supreme Court order.
Smith pleaded guilty to the charge April 19 and admitted that he endangered his three minor children, who were passengers in the car, as well as the public by driving. He has no disciplinary history, has been cooperative with the commission, and the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program believes his clinical needs would be best served by continuing to practice law and being monitored by JLAP.
The justices suspended Smith for violating Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(b), which prohibits committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer.
The suspension period will be stayed subject to Smith’s completion of at least two years of probation. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him.•