Larry G. Whitney, the Marion County Bar Association president when Indiana Lawyer launched in 1990, is currently suspended from the practice of law. In 2005, the Indiana Supreme Court unanimously decided to suspend Whitney for multiple violations of the Indiana Professional Rules of Conduct resulting from his actions involving an insurance check for a client. According to his disciplinary order, Whitney deposited a check in his trust account that was supposed to go to his client’s chiropractor. He then told the chiropractor that his client intended to keep the money until the case settled. When questioned by the Disciplinary Commission about the matter, Whitney said the funds in question were never deposited into his trust account. He then threatened to file a defamation suit against his client if she filed a disciplinary grievance against him.
“We pause to comment on respondent’s defense that his threatened defamation suit against his client was a legitimate attempt to protect his reputation. Such defense is spurious in light of Ind. Admission and Discipline Rule 23, Section 20, which provides immunity from civil prosecution for written statements made without malice to the Commission. Further, in light of the confidential nature of Commission investigations, respondent’s threat served only to try to intimidate his client, not protect his reputation,” the order says.
The justices handed down a six-month suspension with automatic reinstatement, and Whitney was reinstated in September 2005. But he was suspended again in June 2012 for not meeting continuing legal education requirements and nonpayment of attorney registration fees. That suspension remains in effect.•