Disciplinary Actions: Oct. 1-Dec. 31, 2022

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.

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Probation

West Baden Springs attorney Charles Daugherty was suspended from the practice of law in Indiana for 60 days, effective Oct. 12, 2022, all stayed subject to the completion of at least one year of probation with monitoring by the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program. Daugherty violated Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4(a), 1.16(d), 3.2 and 8.4(d) when he failed to appear at two status conferences and two show-cause hearings for a client, to whom he never provided an explanation for his absences. When the client hired a new attorney, Daugherty did not provide the case file. The costs of the proceeding, $257.53, are assessed against him. He is now on probation, according to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys.

Carmel attorney Michelle D. Lady was suspended for 60 days, effective Nov. 4, with 30 days actively served with automatic reinstatement and the balance stayed subject to the completion of at least two years of probation with JLAP monitoring. Lady pleaded guilty to Level 6 felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a prior conviction in May 2022, and was subsequently found to have violated Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(b). The costs of the proceeding, $257.33, are assessed against her. She is now on probation, according to the Roll of Attorneys. Justice Geoffrey Slaughter did not participate in the decision of the matter.

Public reprimand

Bluffton attorney Andrew John Carnall was publicly reprimanded in a Dec. 1 order for a violation of Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(d). Carnall, who was then the elected Wells County prosecutor, violated the rule when he asked a deputy sheriff for permission to pick up Carnall’s son from the scene of a traffic stop at which his son was suspected of operating while intoxicated. Carnall’s son was ultimately not arrested. He self-reported to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission and publicly and privately apologized. Justice Christopher Goff did not participate in the decision of the matter.

Suspensions

Sarasota, Florida, attorney Robert W. Gray was suspended for at least 90 days, effective Oct. 4, without automatic reinstatement. Gray violated Rules of Professional Conduct 8.1(a), 8.4(a) and 8.4(c) when he created a company in Florida, The Inventor’s Platform, using an alias after he was suspended in Indiana in 2019 and consensually excluded from practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Acting under his alias, Gray contracted to provide legal services, paid contract attorneys a fraction of the fees collected and allowed nonlawyer personnel to draft clients’ provisional patent applications. He also supervised contract attorneys’ patent work despite being excluded from practicing before the USPTO. Finally, he made several misrepresentations during the Disciplinary Commission’s investigation into his conduct in Florida. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him.

Monticello attorney Clinton Andrew Hardesty was suspended, effective Nov. 4, for noncooperation with the commission’s investigation of a grievance filed against him. The costs of the proceeding, $529.72, are assessed against him. Hardesty was suspended for noncooperation again in a separate order, effective Dec. 29. The costs of that proceeding, $531.58, are also assessed against him. Both suspensions will continue until the executive director of the Disciplinary Commission certifies to the Indiana Supreme Court that Hardesty has cooperated fully with the investigations or until further order of the court, provided there are no other suspensions in effect. Prior to both orders, Hardesty was already suspended for continuing legal education noncompliance.

Indianapolis attorney John S. Keeler was suspended for 545 days, effective Nov. 4, without automatic reinstatement. Keeler pleaded guilty in April 2022 to one count of causing the filing of a false tax return and was sentenced to two months of minimum-security incarceration, one year of supervised release, and just over $69,000 in fines, restitution and fees. He had been under an interim suspension since June 9 and was found to have violated Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) and 8.4(c). The costs of the proceeding, $274.25, are assessed against him.

Vincennes attorney Justin B. McGiffen was suspended, effective Oct. 12, after he was convicted of impersonation of a public servant, a Level 6 felony. The interim suspension will continue until further order of the Supreme Court or final resolution of any resulting disciplinary action, provided no other suspension is in effect.

Merrillville attorney Robert McMahon was suspended, effective Oct. 6, after he was convicted of possession of child pornography, a felony. The interim suspension will continue pending further order of the Supreme Court or final resolution of any resulting disciplinary action, provided no other suspension is in effect.

Evansville attorney Kurt A. Schnepper’s suspension for noncooperation with the disciplinary process was converted to an indefinite suspension, effective Oct. 6. Schnepper was initially suspended on May 5 for failing to cooperate with the Disciplinary Commission’s investigation into two grievances filed against him. He did not respond to the commission’s motion to convert the suspension to an indefinite suspension. To be readmitted, he must cure the causes of all suspensions in effect and successfully petition the Supreme Court for reinstatement pursuant to Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 23(18)(b).

Indianapolis attorney Ralph W. Staples was suspended for at least one year without automatic reinstatement in a Nov. 2 per curiam opinion from the Supreme Court. Staples engaged in attorney misconduct by dividing attorney fees without his client’s permission, disobeying court orders, making false statements to the Disciplinary Commission and failing to timely respond to the commission’s demands for information. Staples may petition for reinstatement at the conclusion of the minimum period of suspension, provided that he pays the costs of the proceedings, satisfies the judgment against him, fulfills the duties of a suspended attorney and satisfies the requirements for reinstatement of Admission and Discipline Rule 23(18). The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him.

South Bend attorney John R. Voor was suspended, effective Oct. 12, for noncooperation with the Disciplinary Commission’s investigation of a grievance filed against him. Voor was already under a suspension for dues nonpayment. The costs of the proceeding, $529.72, are assessed against him.

Termination of suspension

Angola attorney Amanda R. German was suspended, effective Nov. 15, for noncooperation with the commission’s investigation of a grievance filed against her. The costs of the proceeding, $523.46, were assessed against her. German’s suspension was terminated as of Nov. 16, per a Dec. 1 order, after the executive director of the commission filed a certificate of compliance stating that German had cooperated with the commission’s investigation. Her law license is now active in good standing, according to the Roll of Attorneys.•

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