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.
Kenneth C. Kern, of Marion County, was suspended Jan. 16 by the Indiana Supreme Court for noncooperation with the Disciplinary Commission in the investigation of a grievance. He must pay $525.92 for the costs of the proceeding.
William B. Fecher, of Cincinnati, Ohio, was suspended Jan. 16 by the Indiana Supreme Court for noncooperation with the Disciplinary Commission in the investigation of a grievance. He must pay $525.92 for the costs of the proceeding.
Lindsay P. Schneider, of Marion County, has been suspended by the Indiana Supreme Court following his guilty plea on Jan. 22, 2014, to Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He has prior OWI convictions, for which he was previously suspended. Schneider promptly reported his conviction to the Disciplinary Commission and is participating in counseling services.
For violating Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(b), he will be suspended for six months, beginning Feb. 17, with 30 days actively served and the balance conditionally stayed subject to completion of at least two years of probation with Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program monitoring. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him.
Eric L. Jackson, of Marion County, has been suspended for 12 violations of the Indiana Profession Conduct Rules, stemming from his loan modification work with a Florida firm. Jackson contracted with Consumer Attorney Services to be “of counsel” and provide services to CAS’ Indiana loan modification and foreclosure defense clients. A client referred to Jackson was not informed that Jackson’s role in the representation would be limited nor was he informed about how fees would be shared between CAS and respondent. After making an initial, brief phone call to J.D. and signing the fee agreement on behalf of CAS, Jackson had no involvement in attempting to obtain loan modification from the client’s lender. Jackson also did not keep the client informed about the status of litigation or the availability of a court-ordered settlement conference.
Jackson’s suspension will begin March 4 and last for 120 days with automatic reinstatement. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him. Justices Steven David and Brent Dickson dissent, believing the penalty is insufficient for the offense.
Joshua R. Payton, of St. Joseph County, has been suspended following his conviction of operating a motor vehicle with alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more, a Class A misdemeanor in Indiana, and fleeing or eluding a police officer in the fourth degree in Michigan. The convictions stem from a single episode that began in Michigan and ended in Indiana.
Payton was already given an interim suspension based on this conduct and was suspended for noncompliance with continuing legal education requirements. His suspension of 180 days, all actively served, began either on Jan. 21, the date of the order, or the date his current CLE noncompliance suspension is ended, whichever is later.
He is placed on probation for one year with JLAP monitoring. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him.
Ronald A. Safrin, of Hamilton County, has been suspended without automatic reinstatement for rule violations stemming from failing to register two attorney/client trust accounts as interest on lawyer trust accounts and a fee dispute with a client.
Safrin shared signatory authority for the trust accounts with another lawyer, who stole money from them. By failing to register the accounts as interest trust accounts, Safrin enabled the other lawyer to steal client funds from those accounts. That attorney has resigned from the bar.
The disciplinary action also says that Safrin entered into a written fee agreement with a client that included a nonrefundable retainer fee. He denied to the commission that his fee agreements ever contained a nonrefundable fee provision, which was false according to the commission.
For his violations of five of the Indiana Professional Conduct Rules and Rule 4 governing attorney trust account overdraft reporting, Safrin has been suspended for at least six months beginning Feb. 28. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him.•