A Plainfield attorney has been suspended for at least 180 days with two years of probation monitored by the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program after he accepted retainers from several clients but failed to adequately communicate with or appropriately advance their cases.
Three separate disciplinary complaints were filed In the Matter of Jeffrey B. Cooper, according to an Indiana Supreme Court order. According to the other’s stipulated facts, the suspension stems from Jeffrey Cooper being retained in six different client representations to handle various matters, including post-death estate administration, property title transfer, drafting of trust and power-of-attorney instruments and applications for benefits from the Veterans Administration.
In each case, Cooper accepted retainers but failed to communicate with his clients and move forward with their cases. In two of the cases, Cooper took actions constituting the practice of law while he was administratively suspended for dues nonpayment and noncompliance with continuing legal education requirements. And in another case, he failed to properly supervise a paralegal to whom he had delegated client work.
Cooper also failed to timely respond to demands for information from the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission regarding the clients’ grievances, leading to the initiation of multiple show cause proceedings against Cooper and a suspension for noncooperation.
In the Thursday order, the high court pointed to Cooper’s pattern of misconduct, his commission of multiple violations and his obstruction of the disciplinary process as aggravating circumstances. However, it also noted Cooper’s lack of prior discipline apart from the show cause proceedings, his early acceptance of responsibility for his noncooperation, his lack of dishonest or selfish motive, his voluntary involvement with JLAP to address factors contributing to his misconduct and his full restitution made to all aggrieved clients were mitigating circumstances.
Ultimately, the justices found Cooper violated eight Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct, including:
- Rule 1.1
- Rule 1.3
- Rule 1.4(a)(2), (3) and (4)
- Rule 5.3(b)
- Rule 5.5(a)
- Rule 8.1(b)
Thus, the justices imposed a 180-day suspension effective Feb. 22, with 60 days actively served and the remainder stayed subject to the completion of at least two years of JLAP-monitored probation.
As a condition of his probation, Cooper must provide the commission with an unlimited and irrevocable authorization and release form, to remain effective for the entirety of his probationary period, allowing JLAP to provide the commission with information regarding his treatment and progress. If Cooper violates the terms of his probation, the stay of his suspension will be vacated and his suspension will be actively served without automatic reinstatement.
Cooper is also barred from undertaking any new legal matters until after the suspension is complete. The costs of the proceedings are assessed against him.