Noblesville attorney suspended after admitting multiple conduct violations

April 13, 2018

A Noblesville attorney has been suspended from the practice of law for at least one year after admitting to 10 violations of Indiana professional conduct rules.

The Indiana Supreme Court imposed the one-year suspension on Mark F. Nichols on Thursday after Nichols and the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission submitted a Conditional Agreement for Discipline. The first count against Nichols in the agreement found that he was hired by Client 1 to handle expungement matters but took no action and was unresponsive to the client’s inquiries.

Client 1 filed a grievance against Nichols, who told the commission he had not pursued the expungements because the client was required to gather his own criminal records — an assertion the Supreme Court characterized as either false or demonstrative of a lack of competence. Nichols also falsely claimed he had earned the fee Client 1 had paid him.

Similarly, Count 2 found that Client 2 hired Nichols to help her obtain specialized driving privileges, but the attorney was unresponsive and failed to make any filings. And in Count 3, Nichols failed to appear at Client 2’s plea hearing, or a subsequent show causing hearing, even though the client was incarcerated. Nichols never refunded Client 3’s payment or officially withdrew from the case.

Finally, Count 4 found that after Nichols was hired to file either a sentence modification or post-conviction relief for Client 4, who was convicted of murder, the attorney falsely told his client’s wife that he had filed a sentence modification, when he had not filed anything on Client 4’s behalf. He later told the wife that the court had lost the paperwork. The wife demanded a fee and filed a grievance, but Nichols told the commission he had worked 105 hours on the case and had earned the fee.

Considering that conduct, the parties agreed Nichols violated 10 Indiana Professional Conduct Rules, including:

  • 1.1
  • 1.3
  • 1.4(a)(3) and (4)
  • 1.5(a)
  • 1.16(d)
  • 3.2
  • 3.4(c)
  • 8.1(a)
  • 8.4(c)

The court approved the proposed discipline of a one-year of suspension without automatic reinstatement in a Thursday order, effective May 24. Nichols is prohibited from undertaking new matters between the issuance of the order and the effective date of the suspension.

The costs of the proceedings of In The Matter of: Mark F. Nichols, 29S00-1705-DI-344, were assessed against him.


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