Anthem attorney gets JLAP probation after OWI crash

An attorney for Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc. received a stayed suspension from the Indiana Supreme Court and will undergo a year of substance abuse monitoring after a drunken-driving conviction arising from a property damage car crash nearly two years ago.

Jonathan T. Tempel was suspended for 90 days with automatic reinstatement, stayed subject to completion of one year of monitoring by the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program. Justices issued an order Friday evening accepting the agreed discipline proposed by the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.

Tempel pleaded guilty last September to misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Marion County, and his discipline agreement notes he had a prior OWI conviction in Boone County. The prior conviction was about four years before the Marion County conviction, according to public records.

“The Supreme Court’s Order references the steps Mr. Tempel has taken in his recovery from the disease of alcohol use disorder,” Tempel’s attorney, James Bell, said in an emailed statement. “Mr. Tempel’s recovery has been the result of hard work and dedication and his case is a wonderful example of what happens when an attorney takes advantage of the resources offered by JLAP. The public attention he is receiving from the Order is part of the process, but it does not aid in his recovery. Mr. Tempel is relieved that the case is resolved and he looks forward to continuing to take care of his health.”

The Supreme Court order notes Tempel “has no prior discipline and has voluntarily taken several measures since his arrest in Marion County to respond to his misconduct, including entering into a long-term monitoring agreement with JLAP. Respondent’s criminal probation and JLAP monitoring agreement include among other things the use of a SoberLink device for real-time alcohol monitoring.”

Four justices agreed with the discipline, though Chief Justice Loretta Rush dissented and would reject the agreement, believing “a period of active suspension and a longer term of probation are warranted given the endangerment involved in the Marion County criminal case.”

According to the police narrative from that case, Indianapolis officers responded to a report of a hit-and-run crash near Castleton in November 2017. A witness identified Tempel as the driver of a red BMW M3 that struck a parked vehicle, causing “massive damage” to the back of the parked car, after which Tempel attempted to drive from the scene on flat tires.

An officer who talked to Tempel wrote in the probable cause affidavit that Tempel was at first uncooperative, but later acknowledged he struck the car. The officer wrote that Tempel told the officer the crash was a civil matter and “not a big deal.” An officer said Tempel told him “he was just driving home and struck the car, and described the cars that are parked along the side of the road as landmines. Mr. Tempel said that he never knows where the cars were going to be parked along his street.”

Tempel refused to take a breath test or consent to a blood draw, after which a warrant was issued and blood was drawn at Eskenazi Hospital, leading to the filing of charges.

Tempel must abstain from using alcohol or other mind-altering substances during his probation, commit no criminal acts or ethical violations, and pay the costs of compliance. Failure to abide by the terms of the agreement may result in the stayed suspension being actively served without automatic reinstatement.

Tempel is also assessed the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

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