Three Indiana justices have decided that a Boone County attorney should be suspended for at least three years because his repeated misconduct has “injured his clients” and “tarnished the reputation of the legal profession.”
Kjell P. Engebretsen, of Lebanon, had two suspensions still in effect when the justices issued this latest suspension Oct. 29. The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission filed a complaint against Engebretsen in November 2011, which alleged misconduct that occurred from 2006 through 2011. He’s accused of neglecting clients’ cases, failing to inform clients that his medical problems would severely limit his ability to represent them, failing to refund unearned fees, and other charges.
Engebretsen did not respond to the complaint. Judge Thomas G. Fisher, who was appointed to hear the case, found five facts in aggravation, including that the attorney’s misconduct severely damaged the public’s perception of attorneys and caused great harm to his clients, and that he has shown no remorse and displayed indifference to paying restitution.
The justices found Engebretsen violated nine rules of professional conduct, including engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, and failure to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter. His suspension is effective immediately and is without automatic reinstatement. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him.
Justice Steven David dissented, believing Engebretsen should be disbarred.
Engebretsen was admitted to the Indiana bar in January 2005, and his disciplinary history dates back to 2008. He most recently was suspended for failure to pay costs and for noncooperation and was serving an indefinite suspension.