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.
Kjell P. Engebretsen, of Boone County, has been suspended for at least three years because his repeated misconduct has “injured his clients” and “tarnished the reputation of the legal profession.” Engebretsen had two suspensions still in effect when the Indiana Supreme Court 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.
Three 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.
Charlie P. White, of Marion County, has had his disciplinary proceedings stayed by the Indiana Supreme Court per a Nov. 1 order. The former secretary of state sought the stay pending resolution of the appeal of his criminal charges. His law license, which was suspended in May, remains suspended.
The justices entered the interim suspension earlier this year after White was convicted of several felonies following a trial in Hamilton County on voter fraud charges. The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission didn’t object to the requested stay “in the interests of judicial economy,” according to the order.
Justice Mark Massa did not participate in the decision.•