Attorney suspended 90 days after second domestic violence conviction

A Logansport lawyer who was convicted for a second time of beating his wife will have his law license suspended for 90 days with automatic reinstatement, the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled.

James T. Knight “battered his wife” in October 2017 and pleaded guilty to a Class A misdemeanor count of battery, justices wrote in a Thursday order accepting Knight’s conditional agreement reached with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission. Justices noted Knight “has a prior conviction and prior discipline stemming from an earlier incident of domestic violence against his wife.”

The Cass County attorney was publicly reprimanded in 2015 in In re Knight, 42 N.E.3d (Mem.) (Ind. June 5, 2015), after he pleaded guilty in 2014 to Class A misdemeanor domestic battery in exchange for the dismissal of a charge of Class D felony criminal confinement.

Likewise, online court records show that in the 2017 incident, Knight faced more serious charges the state ultimately dropped: two counts of Level 5 felony criminal confinement resulting in bodily injury and a Level 5 felony count of domestic battery with a prior conviction. In pleading guilty to misdemeanor battery, Knight admitted to touching his wife in a rude, insolent or angry manner when he grabbed her and dragged her by her leg, resulting in her bodily injury.

After that guilty plea in December 2019, Knight was sentenced to a year of probation. After a judge attempted to modify his probation by adding a 600-hour community service requirement, Knight successfully appealed. The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the community service requirement as an abuse of discretion.

Finding Knight violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(b), which prohibits committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on Respondent’s trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer, justices suspended him from the practice of law for three months beginning June 10. “At the conclusion of the period of suspension, provided there are no other suspensions then in effect, Respondent shall be automatically reinstated to the practice of law, subject to the conditions of Admission and Discipline Rule 23(18)(a).”

Knight also was ordered to pay $263.85 in costs as well as the costs of the hearing officer, which will be submitted separately. Thursday’s order is In the Matter of: James T. Knight, 20S-DI-526.

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